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Samsung, Motorola compete to win 5G smartphone race

With South Korea and the US gearing up for the commercial rollout of their fifth-generation wireless networks next month, the countries’ smartphone manufacturers are scrambling to attract consumers by touting their functionalities.

The starting players are Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker, which is betting on its advanced technologies, and Motorola, which is hoping that its high-tech functions and midrange pricing will help it leap out of its No. 8 position.

Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S10 5G is set to launch April 5, while Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod, enabling its Moto Z3 smartphone to connect to a fifth-generation network, will hit the market April 11 -- the same day Verizon launches the US’ first 5G network service.

While the 5G Moto Mod has been available for preorders since March 14, Samsung Electronics has withdrawn its original plan to take preorders. Instead, the company said it will run a promotional event that offers wireless earphones, a wireless charger and a discount voucher for replacing the screen.

“If we were to proceed with our previous plan of preorders, there would be trouble for consumers because it would take longer than scheduled for (the 5G smartphone) to roll out,” said Samsung Electronics. 

Galaxy S10 5G. Samsung Electronics
Galaxy S10 5G. Samsung Electronics

It is still uncertain how much Samsung’s first 5G smartphone will cost, with speculation ranging that it might be as much as 1.5 million won ($1,320). The retail price of Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod is much cheaper, $350.

The competition is also intensifying to see which phone maker will offer a better 5G experience.

According to Samsung, the Galaxy S10 5G can access network speeds roughly 20 times faster than what is possible on current 4G networks. The smartphone also features a 6.7-inch display, a 4,500 mAh battery and quadruple-camera setups.

Dubbed the world’s first “5G-upgradable smartphone” by Verizon, Motorola’s Moto Z3 5G Mod uses its sizable “backpack” for 5G connectivity. Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 chipset along with an X50 LTE modem, the smartphone offers dual connectivity, meaning it can access both the 5G and LTE networks.

“Available exclusively from Verizon, the 5G Moto Mod is an accessory that allows your Motorola Moto Z3 to connect to the 5G Ultra Wideband network,” said Verizon. “Simply snap the 5G Moto Mod onto the back of your Moto Z3 to connect to the 5G Ultra Wideband network.”