New Samsung 5G phones can tap both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave spectrum

Samsung Electronics on Tuesday introduced its new Galaxy S20 5G lineup of smartphones, including two 5G models that are the first capable of tapping both sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave spectrum bands.

The S20+ and the S20 Ultra models are available March 6, and can support the various flavors of 5G deployed by U.S. carriers.

That means the premium devices can handle super-speedy but short-range millimeter wave 5G that’s been deployed by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile; Sprint’s mid-range, high-capacity 2.5 GHz 5G; and the low-band 5G flavor currently rolled out by T-Mobile and AT&T using 600 MHz and 850 MHz, respectively. The handsets also still support 4G LTE technology.  

RELATED: Qualcomm: 5G is all about sub 6 GHz and mmWave

Previously, consumers had to choose between mmWave or sub-6 GHz for 5G smartphones, but support for both is key as all of the major carriers plan to use multiple spectrum bands for their 5G services.

The new models come with a high price tag. The 6.7-inch S20+ retails for $1,199.99, while the 6.9-inch S20 Ultra costs $1,399.99

Samsung’s 6.2-inch S20 5G ($999.99) smartphone currently only supports the low and mid-band 5G varieties, but Verizon said it will start offering a version of the S20 that works with mmWave spectrum in the second quarter of 2020.

“As we enter this new decade, 5G will completely change how we communicate and how we experience the world around us,” said TM Roh, president and head of Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, in a news release. “As all three S20 variants come with 5G connectivity, Samsung is providing a next-generation device for transforming people’s lives. With an incredible, AI powered camera, you can capture the moments as they happen and connect more seamlessly with the people you love.”

Samsung said the S20 series is also suited for both non-standalone and standalone 5G deployment mode capabilities and support dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology.

Verizon has only rolled out high-band mmWave 5G across 34 cities (in limited areas) and indoor venues and stadiums so far but plans to roll out low-band 5G this year, in part relying on DSS.

AT&T has rolled out both mmWave and low-band 5G and it looks as though with the Samsung device launch consumers will get their first chance to try the carrier’s high-band “5G+” service. So far 5G+ was only available to select business customers.  

RELATED: AT&T to launch 5G for consumers using low-band 850 MHz spectrum

While AT&T’s 5G+ is live in select parts of 35 cities, the carrier notes its only available in very limited locations and requires an approximate unobstructed line of site to the signal source. AT&T’s low-band flavor however is currently available in 45 markets and covers 50 million people, with nationwide coverage expected by mid-year.

AT&T also said it plans to offer 5G service to its prepaid Cricket Wireless “soon” with the Samsung Galaxy S20+.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, announced additional deployments of its low-band 5G alongside the Samsung launch. It’s expanded to 95 additional cities and towns, and says its low-band 5G network covers more than 1 million square miles and 200 million people. With a federal judge handing T-Mobile a court win yesterday allowing the operator to merge with Sprint, T-Mobile is also poised to get its hands on Sprint’s coveted mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Additional device details:

  • Galaxy S20 and S20+ have 64-megapizel camera, S20 Ultra has 108MP camera and all come with enhanced zoom capabilities
  • Ability to shoot 8K video
  • S20 line offers 25W fast charger, S20 Ultra supports 45W Super Fast charging
  • 120 GB standard storage for S20; 128 GB and 512 GB for Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra