We're deep into summer and almost due for a couple of new phones from Samsung and Apple. Perfect time, then, for LG to finally bring around its new Velvet smartphone from overseas to the U.S. market. It came to AT&T late in July and is eventually going to make it to T-Mobile, but we now know exactly when Verizon will bring it to customers.
Research house Canalys tracked 31.9 million smartphone shipments in the U.S. for the second quarter, down 5% from last year. Diverging plotlines between the novel coronavirus pandemic and the trade war with China are putting intense pressures on the industry in terms of cost and product strategy.
Despite all the carrier-infused hype, we're still in the early days of 5G in the US. A crux for the new network is that it currently mostly only works on extremely low or extremely high frequencies, so it's either barely faster than 4G or super-fast, but hardly able to penetrate walls. The federal government seems to recognize this issue, as it has announced that it will hand over a portion of previously military-exclusive midband frequencies to the FCC, which should help carriers create both more robust and faster 5G networks.
Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors power a lot of Android phones these days, but there are some exceptions. Huawei's tiff with the US government cut the Chinese company off from chip suppliers earlier this year, leading the company to investigate other sources. Now Qualcomm is asking the Trump administration to alter the restrictions placed on Huawei so it can sell more 5G Snapdragon chips.
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We're now just a couple of hours away from Samsung's Note20 Unpacked livestream. It'll likely bring us many mentions of the word "innovation," a tour of the company's electronics headquarters, a bunch of celebrity cameos, and, oh yes, new smartphones, a new tablet, and a new smartwatch. You can watch the event as it happens right here, starting at 7 a.m. PDT (10 a.m. EDT).
The rollout of 5G networks across the United States has been complicated and somewhat underwhelming. Most 5G-capable phones are still expensive, and the mmWave-based networks carriers like AT&T and Verizon are building have limited coverage (read: a few city blocks). The situation is starting to look a little better, as T-Mobile today began deploying the world's first standalone 5G network.
More and more 5G phones are being released, but only one has truly international support for 5G bands: the Nokia 8.3 5G. First announced in March, the 8.3 5G is making its way stateside in just a few months, meaning we might have a more affordable 5G option soon.
Motorola took a few years off from making flagship phones, but 2020 was supposed to be its big chance to get back into the high-end. Well, it's a lot harder to sell a $1,000 phone in the midst of a global pandemic, but maybe a somewhat cheaper phone has a shot? The new Motorola Edge is the pared-down version of the Edge+ that launched a few months ago. Unlike that phone, this one is unlocked and has a Snapdragon 765 for 5G connectivity rather than the 865.
Google is finally letting Android phone owners use their 4G and 5G connections to stream gameplay to and from Stadia starting today. The company is calling this an open experiment and, as it may turn out, could bear significant limits.