You can now buy Samsung's first 5G smartphone, but its main selling point will be useless until more cities get 5G

galaxy s10 5gSamsung

  • Verizon is now selling the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, but Verizon's 5G network is still scarce.
  • That means you could buy the Galaxy S10 5G without the guarantee that you'd actually ever connect to Verizon's 5G network.
  • So far, Verizon's 5G network is only available in "parts" of Minneapolis and Chicago. The carrier is activating its 5G network in 30 cities total in 2019, but it didn't say exactly when.
  • It's best to wait and see when 5G will be available in your area before buying a 5G-capable smartphone.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

You can buy and use Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G smartphone that can connect to Verizon's 5G network starting May 16, but there aren't many places in the US where Verizon actually has a 5G network - at least for now.

5G is the new mobile network standard that's said to be significantly faster than the 4G LTE networks we've been using so far to connect to the internet on our smartphones. Verizon claims its 5G network will let you stream 4K video with ease, video chat without drops, and things that took minutes to download will instead take seconds.

Someone from New York can buy the Galaxy S10 5G and they won't encounter Verizon's 5G network until the carrier actually activates it there - and there's no telling exactly when your area will get Verizon's 5G network.

The carrier's 5G network is currently active in two cities - Minneapolis and Chicago - and it plans to activate its 5G network in 30 cities in 2019. Verizon listed the next 20 cities that will get its 5G network, but it didn't say when the network will arrive.

verizon coverage map 2019 mayVerizon

As for Minneapolis and Chicago, Verizon said its 5G network is only available in "parts" of those cities.

For Minneapolis, Verizon's 5G network is active in Downtown West, Downtown East, and Elliot Park.

For Chicago, Verizon's 5G network is active in the Loop, Magnificent Mile, the Gold Coast, River North, and Old Town.

That means that if Galaxy S10 5G owners don't often venture to the areas listed above, they wouldn't be making the most of their 5G smartphone. Instead, they'd be connected to Verizon's 4G LTE mobile network the majority of the time.

Read more: AT&T's controversial use of the term 5G 'E' even fooled tech billionaire Marc Benioff.

Verizon's 5G network - as well as 5G networks from other carriers - will surely expand over time, at which point it'll make more sense to buy a 5G smartphone. Indeed, 4G LTE networks also took a while to become widely available in the US when they were first rolled out.

But for now, it doesn't make too much sense to buy a 5G smartphone, as you'd be paying a premium for 5G connectivity when it's barely available. Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G costs $1,300, whereas the regular Galaxy S10 starts at $900. Verizon offers tasty deals where you can trade in your old smartphone to significantly offset the cost of the Galaxy S10 5G, but discounts won't make 5G networks arrive any faster. You'll still likely be connected to 4G LTE networks the majority of the time.

This isn't a knock on Samsung or Verizon. There always needs to be a first, and Samsung has stepped up to the plate. As for Verizon, its an incredibly complex process to roll out a brand-new mobile network, and it's understandable why 5G isn't widely available the moment. But buying or adopting the first of something isn't always the best move.

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