Korean Economy News
5G Race: Korean 5G phones to debut in the U.S. in May

Yong Hwan-jin and Kim Hyo-jin

Korean makers Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. will both launch their 5G smartphones in the U.S. next month to make a head start in the 5G race against their bigger rival Apple Inc.

Samsung Electronics announced Wednesday it would release its Galaxy S10 5G phones through America’s largest carrier Verizon on May 16 and start taking pre-orders from April 18.

Verizon already went live with 5G on April 5, offering Motorola’s Moto Z3 as the first commercial 5G phone in Chicago and Minneapolis. But unlike the Galaxy S10, this device needs 5G Moto Mod, an add-on accessory resembling a small battery pack, to access the network.

LG Electronics plans to launch its first 5G smartphone, the V50 ThinQ, in Korea on April 19 and in the U.S. next month through the mobile operator Sprint. While the exact date for its U.S. rollout has not yet been confirmed, it is expected to be around the same time as its rival Samsung’s.

Sprint recently said it would turn on its 5G services in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City in May, with plans to expand its coverage to Houston, L.A., New York and Washington D.C. in the latter half of the year.

The two Korean companies will make their 5G phones available to more U.S. carriers in the coming months. They are expected to maintain their early lead in the U.S. for some time, with China’s Huawei and Xiaomi yet to release their own 5G-enabled phones and Apple reportedly holding out until 2020.

It remains to be seen whether LG Electronics can exploit 5G to regain its footing in the North American smartphone market. Apple is currently the dominant smartphone vendor in the region with a 38 percent share, followed by Samsung Electronics at 26.5 percent and LG Electronics at 15.9 percent.

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