Here's why Verizon skips the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G release

Here's why Verizon skips the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G release
Have you ever wondered why the Galaxy S20 5G model is grayed-out in Samsung's store if you choose Verizon as a carrier? America's largest cell phone operator has only the Galaxy S20+ and Ultra in its roster for now, while the S20 5G is coming at a later date.

Verizon's 5G network is now built around the ultra wideband mmWave that offers the fastest 5G speeds but later in the year Verizon will have it on lower frequencies that provide better coverage, and that's when the Galaxy S20 5G will launch in its carrier stores.

Samsung Galaxy S20 5G release on Verizon

How to use Samsung Galaxy S20 on Verizon while you are waiting on the mmWave 5G model availability:

  • You can buy the unlocked Galaxy S20 from Samsung right now, and use it on Verizon right away, as the carrier supports it as BYOD gear activated on its network.
  • Wait until next month or some time in Q2 and get the real S20 5G model. We asked Verizon to confirm the exact release timing and our favorite press person George Koroneos confirmed that "It will be available in the first half of 2020."
  • You can buy it from Spectrum Mobile, a Verizon MVNO, at its $45 Unlimited plan that now includes Verizon's 5G mmWave coverage, with the caveat that "this phone is not immediately compatible with Spectrum Mobile’s current 5G network but will be compatible in the future as our 5G network expands."

We've actually known that the S20 (SM-G980) model won't support mmWave networks before Samsung announced the series, even in its SM-G981U reincarnation that supports lower 5G bands like those on T-Mobile or AT&T. Back in January, we found the S20 listed at the FCC states as a device that "contains the following capabilities":

850/1900 CDMA (BC0, BC1, BC10), 850/1900 GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 850/1700/1900 WCDMA/HSPA, Multi-band LTE, 5G NR (n71, n5, n66, n2, n41), 802.11b/g/n/ax WLAN, 802.11a/n/ac/ax UNII, Bluetooth (1x, EDR, LE), NFC, ANT+, Wireless Power TransferThe device contains receivers which tune and operate between 30MHz – 960MHz in the following bands: CDMA850, GSM850, WCDMA850, LTE B12, LTE B13, LTE B14, LTE B26, LTE B29, LTE B5 and LTE B71.

At the same time, the S20+ (G986U) listing at the FCC, for instance, ratcheted the 5G bands up quite a bit to the following:

850/1900 CDMA/EvDO Rev0/A, 1x Advanced (BC0, BC1, BC10), 850/1900 GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 850/1700/1900 WCDMA/HSPA, Multi-band LTE, 5G NR (n71, n5, n66, n2, n41, n260, n261), 802.11b/g/n/ax WLAN, 802.11a/n/ac/ax UNII, Bluetooth (1x, EDR, LE), NFC, ANT+, Wireless Power Transfer

Verizon may subsidize 5G mmWave phone pricing

Notice the n261 band in the S20+ listing? That's Verizon's 28GHz spectrum that delivers the blazing fast 5G speeds that get touted in marketing materials but has trouble penetrating thick walls and even your hand if there weren't a bunch of antennas around the frame of all mmWave handsets.

Verizon, however, is not just doubling but quintupling its 2019 5G mmWave cells rollout this year, going all in on the ultradense network that is needed to sustain its superior 5G speeds, and leaving the lower bands for a later time.

What could be behind its decision to eschew what could probably turn out to be the most sought-after Galaxy S20 model given its lowest price? Well, according to Joe Madden, a Principal Analyst at research shop Mobile Experts, "it's the cost per gigabyte, stupid!" and if Verizon has the Galaxy S20 5G with mmWave support at the same price as the regular S20, it might actually be subsidizing it:

  • Verizon is strong-arming its handset and other device vendors to offer mmWave. UE suppliers have been reluctant to move into mmWave, because it’s an expensive and touchy feature to add. Verizon has successfully convinced Samsung, Apple, Dell, and others to provide at least 20 devices during 2020.
  • Verizon has chosen not to offer the Samsung Galaxy S20 handset, even though it’s available from other carriers now. Verizon wants to be sure that its customers have very few non-millimeter wave choices, and they’re choosing to risk losing customers that really want the latest Galaxy phone.
  • One point is not really clear yet: We believe that Verizon will be offering mmWave handsets for the same price as a low-band 5G handset from competing carriers. We should be able to verify this in about three months. If this part is true, then our conclusion is that Verizon is actually subsidizing mmWave adoption by accepting a lower margin on the mmWave phones.

Said cost per gigabyte is much less than all other options when using Verizon's 28GHz stations, says Mr Madden for Fierce Wireless, and the carrier is putting everything else on the backburner, given the huge upswing in mobile video streaming that is well on its way to eat 80% of all mobile date being used.

To offset the pain of the S20 5G delay on its fast 5G network, though, Verizon is offering a BOGO deal for free S20+ and Ultra models, if you sign them up for a new Unlimited line. That might go a long way in luring people to its budding mmWave coverage for the next two years while they are paying off their S20 series handsets.

Related phones

Galaxy S20
  • Display 6.2 inches 3200 x 1440 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP (Triple camera) 10 MP front
  • Hardware Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 12GB RAM
  • Storage 128GB, microSDXC
  • Battery 4000 mAh
  • OS Android 11 Samsung One UI

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.
FCC OKs Cingular's purchase of AT&T Wireless