Chinese equipment maker provides additional detail on its first 5G smartphone, due to launch in mid-2019

Huawei will launch its first 5G smartphone, complete with a foldable, high-definition screen, in the middle of next year, the Chinese vendor’s rotating CEO Ken Hu confirmed at the World Economic Forum event in Tianjin this week.

There is much talk in the industry of the longer-term benefits of 5G technology, such as automated cars, smart manufacturing, and sensors connecting myriad objects, Hu said. But consumers will be able to enjoy the next-generation of mobile technology sooner rather than later, he insisted.

"We should focus more on the short-term [and] what we can do with 5G immediately," he said.

The industry roadmap is for 5G smartphone launches next year, he said. "We’re going to launch our first [5G] smartphone in the middle of 2019."

This is not the first time Huawei has indicated it will bring a 5G phone to market in 2019, but Mr Hu was able to add some further colour.

"In our first smartphone we’re going to launch a foldable screen," he said.

As such, consumers will be able to carry a big, HD screen with them, and thereby realise the customer experience boost promised by 5G, with its faster speeds and lower latency.

Hu was speaking on a panel session focusing on the arrival of the new 5G era.

Session chair Wang Feng, editor-in-chief of, opened the session with a warning to attendees: "The bad news is you will have to throw out your phones in another few months, but at least this time it will be a real upgrade!" he said.

Huawei’s Hu was not wholly convinced about an immediate mass disposal of handsets – "I don’t think that’s the case!" he said – but he was keen to highlight the fact that 5G will make its presence felt in the consumer market in the near future.

"We’re going to take advantage of 5G not just in the long term but also in the short term," he said. "So the question is how we’re going to speed up the deployment of 5G."