HTC might not be making very many phones anymore, but that doesn't mean it can't trot out 5G mobile devices here at MWC 2019. Following up on its 5G hotspot from a continuing collaboration with Sprint, the company has unveiled the HTC 5G Hub. It's not just a connectivity hub that lets you link to 5G networks, but also has a 5-inch Android tablet built in. Though you can speak to Google Assistant on the Hub, it's not designed to be a smart display. Rather, its screen is meant more for accessing quick controls than actually watching videos on.
As a mobile hotspot, the HTC 5G Hub can connect up to 20 users, who can also stream 4K video or play games concurrently. The Hub will be available for Sprint's 5G markets, of which there will be nine lit up in the US this year. But you can also fall back to gigabit LTE where 5G isn't available and continue watching your videos.
The hub's built in 5-inch display runs Android Pie and is powered by the beefy Snapdraon 855 CPU, which should be plenty of muscle for your Angry Birds sessions or YouTube recipe videos. It'll offer up to 2.3Gbps of download speeds with its Snapdragon X50 5G modem, though its 4GB of RAM and 32GB of ROM are pretty modest.
The HTC 5G Hub carries a 7,660mAh battery that the company says should last about a full workday depending on how you use it. If the screen is on and just one or two people are connected, or if many people are linked and the screen is off, the device should last about a day. Since no real 5G networks are live yet, HTC can't give a realworld estimate of battery life on 5G connections. The device can charge your phone, too.
With the hub, the idea is that you can connect to faster 5G networks even if you're on an older phone that doesn't have the necessary equipment built in. You can connect to the hub via 802.11ac WiFi or WiFi 6 to run more-taxing tasks like AR, or quickly get a movie download under way. You could also offload videos and photos cluttering up your phone and transfer them to the Hub's onboard storage or microSD card (with support for up to 2TB).
We don't know how much the HTC 5G Hub will cost yet, but it will be available in the second quarter of the year, and seems like a potentially lower cost way to try out 5G when the networks become available.