Xiaomi teases 5G connectivity on upcoming phone (Update: Don’t hold your breath)

By | 3rd September 2018

A teaser render of the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3. Weibo

Update, September 3, 2018 (08:12AM): Xiaomi’s Donovan Sung posted a photo roughly two hours ago, showing what looked like an unreleased phone with 5G connectivity. The phone bears a resemblance to a device that was previously teased by Xiaomi, tipped to be the Mi Mix 3.

Now, the Xiaomi spokesperson has posted a follow-up tweet, simply revealing that the company successfully tested 5G connectivity on its phones. Sung also pointed to an official rollout of 5G connectivity in 2019.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the Mi Mix 3 is getting a 5G model, as we initially thought. Xiaomi may have just designed the phone seen in this photo for internal testing only.

Original article, September 3, 2018 (08:05AM): The race for 5G is heating up, as the likes of Samsung, Huawei, and others race to be first to market with the new technology. But it looks like Xiaomi is in the running too, judging by a new teaser image the company posted.

A picture, posted to Twitter by Xiaomi spokesperson Donovan Sung, shows a phone with extremely thin bezels. But if you look near the signal strength indicator, you should spot the “5G” icon.

Check out the screen in the background of the photo and you’ll also see what looks like a network testing utility. And yes, the program mentions “NR5G.” For the uninitiated, 5G New Radio (5G-NR) is part of the official 5G standard, as determined by the 3GPP specifications group. Nevertheless, Xiaomi appears to be teasing 5G and as the phone will likely be running Qualcomm silicon it could well be making use of the company’s 5G X50 modem.

Is Xiaomi ahead of the curve?

The Xiaomi logo at MWC 2018.

So it seems like Xiaomi is teasing a 5G phone of some kind and based on the details in the picture’s background, the device is running the 3GPP 5G standard. This would mark a shift from early 5G plans undertaken by some other companies. For example, Verizon’s 5G network, set to launch later this year, will use its proprietary 5GTF standard before transitioning to 3GPP’s 5G-NR.

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It’s also worth pointing out that this phone looks identical to a unique slider-based phone teased by Xiaomi last week (seen in the header image). The Chinese brand says this device is scheduled for an October launch. It’s possible that both photos are showing the Mi Mix 3 then, as Xiaomi usually reveals the main Mi Mix phones (i.e. not the S model) in September or October.

But when will this Xiaomi phone actually be available to consumers? That’s a key question, because what’s the point of a 5G phone if networks don’t support the standards (both proprietary or unified) yet? In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Xiaomi announces a standard and 5G Mi Mix 3 this year, but waits until next year to actually release the 5G-capable model.

What do you think of a Xiaomi 5G phone? Are you eager to get on the 5G train? Let us know in the comments!