On May 17, Sprint will start taking pre-orders for its first 5G phone—the LG V50—and its first 5G hotspot—the HTC 5G Hub—in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City. Sprint will likely turn on its mid-band 5G network in those cities on May 31.
A new kind of 5G will finally be launching at the end of the month.
On May 17, Sprint will start taking pre-orders for its first 5G phone—the LG V50—and its first 5G hotspot—the HTC 5G Hub—in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City, Sprint’s first four 5G markets.
The devices will be delivered on May 31, so that’s almost certainly when Sprint will turn on its mid-band 5G network in those cities. Sprint’s 5G approach is different from that of AT&T and Verizon so far. By using existing cellular bands, Sprint can cover considerably more area than AT&T and Verizon have been able to do with their millimeter-wave towers, although that may be at the cost of overall speed.
The LG V50 will cost $24/month on a leasing plan, with a $80 service plan that includes unlimited 5G, unlimited 4G on the phone, and 100GB of 4G hotspot data. Sprint’s use of a leasing plan here is key: 5G phones are going to iterate very quickly, and Sprint wants the ability to swap out older 5G devices for newer ones on a faster cadence than the typical three-year replacement cycle we’re seeing for phones right now.
The plan also comes with Hatch’s 5G cloud gaming service, which we talked to Hatch about last month.
The HTC Hub will cost $12.50/month over 24 months, with a $60, 100GB service plan. That’s better than other hotspot plans out there right now, although it doesn’t quite live up to the unlimited-data promises of 5G. Hopefully that plan will improve.
Sprint is also committed to launching 5G in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Washington, D.C. in “the coming weeks,” the carrier said
Beyond that, though, things get hazy because Sprint’s long-term plans are trapped in the vortex of its proposed merger with T-Mobile. If the two carriers successfully merge, both of their 5G launch plans may radically change; if the FCC or DOJ prohibits them from merging, well, that would occasion a different set of plans. The FCC’s current “shot clock” suggests that a merger decision will come in June.
Sprint’s announcement today comes as Verizon makes its second 5G phone, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, available in Chicago and Minneapolis. The “race to 5G” has just gotten started, though, as Verizon’s coverage in its first cities is very limited right now. Sprint’s broader, mid-band 5G could quickly leapfrog Verizon on coverage.
We’re testing the new Verizon phone today and we’ll tell you all about it, and of course we’re going to get our hands on the Sprint devices as soon as we can.