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Here's when 5G could make an actual difference in your life


A new timeline sheds some light on when 5G's many potential benefits could come to real people.

There are so many promises about how faster 5G data will transform our lives, it sometimes feels mythical. Though lightning-fast download speeds are slowly coming to more carriers and phones, the prospects of self-driving cars talking to each other, remote surgery and 5G replacing your home Wi-Fi feel like the stuff of a still-distant future. But at last, we're finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Qualcomm, which makes the 5G chips and modems that every 5G phone in the US will rely on, shared a road map (scroll down to see the slides) that spells out when we might start seeing 5G improvements beyond just fast download speeds. Qualcomm isn't the only major 5G player, of course -- Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson are all leaders, too -- but Qualcomm's investments in 5G research and development mean that it has a strong hand in getting the next wave of 5G benefits off the ground. So, its timeline is a good place to start.

Here are five next-gen milestones that could actually affect you.

Every high-end phone could be 5G in 2020

Qualcomm has said it before: all premium phones will support 5G next year. It's a confident statement that both predicts and reflects the trend we're seeing with phones such as the Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, LG V50, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and others. But there's a little nuance here, too.

The pattern so far points to a pricier 5G version of every mainstream phone, for example, as we see with the Galaxy S10 Plus (which is 4G) and Galaxy S10 5G. 4G-only options are still valuable during the 5G transition because they come with a lower price tag. And phone-makers like Samsung want to flood the market with options at every price point, to capture a wide swath of buyers. 

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