The Mobile World Congress isn’t just about flagship smartphones: HTC has launched a new 5G smart hub, putting the next-gen cellular connectivity right inside your home – provided you’ve got any 5G infrastructure near where you live, of course.
Like the 4G routers that came before it, the HTC 5G Hub is able to act as a hotspot to connect multiple devices to blazing 5G speeds. Up to 20 different gadgets can be hooked up to the hub, which will display information about connection speeds and data usage on its integrated 5-inch screen.
Assuming your carrier can serve up decent 5G speeds to your home, the HTC 5G Hub could effectively replace your Wi-Fi router for streaming 4K videos around different rooms. As well as the additional speeds – several multiples faster than 4G LTE, depending on conditions – 5G also offers extra bandwidth so more devices can get online at once without interference.
Inside the HTC 5G Hub you’ve got some serious hardware, with a Snapdragon 855 processor that’s also showing up in the top smartphones of 2019, and a Snapdragon X50 5G modem. The latest Android 9 Pie is on board too, and Google Assistant voice control is supported.
The HTC 5G Hub has some local storage on board and supports the use of memory cards too, so you could download a high-resolution movie straight to the device and then serve it up to a compatible television set via the built-in USB-C port.
There’s another reason HTC is interested in bringing 5G to the home – potentially being able to stream virtual reality content to something like the HTC Vive Cosmos. Streaming virtual reality and augmented reality graphics means no need for expensive PCs at the user end for generating visuals.
“5G will be the game-changer for VR and AR, and the new HTC 5G Hub will seamlessly deliver the great bandwidth of 5G to our devices, driving our vision of Vive Reality – a boundless, immersive environment where human experiences will come to the forefront,” said HTC CEO Cher Wang in a press statement.
The box – which bears a passing resemblance to the Amazon Echo Show – is portable as well, thanks to a 7,660-mAh battery (it’ll even charge your phone, if you want). Maybe if you can’t get any 5G connectivity at home, you could take the HTC 5G Hub on a road trip, although it will fall back to 4G LTE speeds when 5G isn’t available.
At the time of writing, HTC hasn’t announced a price for its new smart hub, but it says it’ll be launching in the first half of 2019. If you don’t want to jump to a 5G phone just yet, this is another option, though you’ll also need a data plan as well – Sprint is partnering with HTC on the hub in the US.