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June 16, 2020
According to both companies, it’s the first mobile Windows PC from a major OEM with 5G ultra-wideband wireless service. Lenovo’s key rivals, HP and Dell, recently said they will ship their first 5G-capabile PCs this summer and fall, respectively.
Initially, U.S. customers can buy the new Lenovo Flex 5G from the carrier’s website or the My Verizon mobile app.
Verizon is selling the Windows 10 laptop with a 14-inch display for $1,400 or 24 monthly, interest-free installments of approximately $58. The price includes a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal (the new name for Office 365).
Additionally, customers must buy the carrier’s 5G service. Verizon is launching a new 5G plan with the laptop, which costs $30 per month for customers with existing lines. The cost is $90 per month for those without existing accounts.
The plan offers unlimited use of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service, which includes use as a hotspot and 4K streaming. Verizon’s new 5G data plan also includes unlimited use when connecting to 4G LTE, though speeds drop after 15 GB.
Outside of North America, Lenovo calls its new laptop the Yoga 5G. Later this year, Lenovo will sell it directly through its online store and in certain markets beyond the U.S. Lenovo also tapped EE to sell it in the United Kingdom, Sunrise in Switzerland and CCMC in China.
While Dell and HP opted to introduce 5G in their respective commercial laptops, Lenovo has gone down a different path. The company chose its consumer PC organization to deliver its first 5G laptop. For now, Lenovo isn’t pushing the Flex 5G through its commercial channels.
Nevertheless, partners building solutions that would benefit from 5G, despite limited service, can recommend the new Lenovo Flex 5G.
Lenovo previewed the Flex 5G at last year’s Computex trade show in Taipei. The company introduced it at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. During CES, VP of North American channels Rob Cato explained why Lenovo’s first 5G PC is for consumers.
Lenovo’s Rob Cato
“As we see more opportunities and more carriers offering 5G, it will start to bleed into the commercial market as well,” he told Channel Futures at the time.
Although he didn’t elaborate on Lenovo’s commercial plans, he described the Flex 5G as “a great opportunity for a number of our partners.”
Cato added that opportunities around 5G are on the radar of the company’s partners.
“They’re building out a group of services,” he said.
As the lines blur between high-end consumer PCs and commercial systems, the new Lenovo Flex 5G focuses on the business user. It is a convertible 2-in-1 system with a 14-inch IPS touchscreen. Weighing just under 3 pounds, it comes with 8 GB of RAM and either 256 or 512 GB of storage.
Lenovo claims its engineers designed the smallest 5G antenna module available. That was critical to ensure the device could …
… flip from laptop to tablet mode without impacting 5G coverage, Lenovo said. The modules enable antennas that work with millimeter Wave and Sub-6 GHz 5G networks.
Verizon’s network is designed for the former.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx 5G Compute platform powers the new Lenovo Flex 5G. The two companies teamed up to design the platform. Known as Project Limitless, the companies revealed the effort at last year’s Computex event.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx includes an integrated X55 modem, which Lenovo claims supports download speeds of 4 Gbps. The company said that is 10 times faster than 4G connections.
“Lenovo introduced the world’s first 5G laptop in market to equip the mobile generation with smarter technology for always-on connectivity and computing,” according to today’s prepared statement by Johnson Jia, SVP and general manager of Lenovo’s consumer business segment.
The new Lenovo Flex 5G laptop should appeal to those eager to start using 5G networks, despite sporadic availability.
A Bloomberg analysis suggested coverage in Asia and other parts of the world remains “patchy,” or slower than expected. In North America, Australia and Europe, carriers’ 5G services are also “underwhelming” so far, according to the report.
OpenSignal, which independently measures mobile networks worldwide, offered similar conclusions in a report last month evaluating 5G services.
“We can see mobile experience has improved dramatically in the past year,” according to the report.
However, the report noted download speeds can vary.
“It’s still early days for 5G despite launches in many countries,” the report concluded.
In a separate report looking at 5G in the U.S earlier this year, OpenSignal warned “the technology has a long way to go.” The report noted that 5G networks are still formative in the U.S. Among other things, spectrum availability and nuances among different networks make it difficult to draw “definitive conclusions” on 5G’s future.
As of February, OpenSignal said Verizon’s 5G network offered the fastest downloads, with average speeds of 723 Mbps. T-Mobile’s network maintained the longest network connections, while Sprint logged the fastest average combined 4G/5G download speeds.
Verizon’s mmWave service is a key reason why its 5G network is faster. But despite that benefit, mmWave’s downside is it doesn’t work well in buildings and requires more dense deployment.
“The problem is you have to put in a staggering number of cell sites to get millimeter wave coverage in a big city,” said TECHnalysis principal analyst Bob O’Donnell, in a recent interview.
For its part, Verizon late last month said it now has 5G coverage in 35 cities. But that doesn’t mean 5G is ubiquitous in those markets.
For example, Verizon recently announced live 5G service in San Diego, available in some highly populated areas, but not others.
Read more about:VARs/SIs
Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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