Huawei is planning to release an 8K 5G TV by the end of this year, a new report from Nikkei claims. According to sources familiar with the company’s plans, the set would include a 5G modem to allow it to stream remote content directly without the need for a cable box or fixed-line internet connection, and it could even act as a router for other internet-connected devices in your home.
Pairing a fast 5G connection with an 8K display could theoretically be a way of overcoming the difficulties of streaming data-heavy 8K content without requiring a high-speed fixed-line internet connection at home. Along with 8K, Nikkei speculates that the TV’s 5G connection could also let them stream 360-degree videos, although that sounds like an absolutely terrible user experience.
Nikkei reports that Huawei would use these 5G TVs to build out its ecosystem of consumer electronics, similar to what Samsung already has with its lineup of TVs, smartphones, wearables, and smart home devices and appliances. Huawei is currently the second largest seller of smartphones worldwide, behind only Samsung.
Watch out, Foxconn
If pairing an 8K display with a 5G connection sounds familiar, then you might be thinking of the “AI 8K+5G” buzzword soup that Foxconn is claiming to be working on at its troubled Wisconsin innovation centers. Technically, manufacturers like LG have claimed their TVs are AI-powered in the past, so it’s possible a new breed of TVs from Huawei — and Foxconn? — could deliver on the vague AI 8K+5G promise. Huawei does love to slap “AI” onto gear intended for the living room.
Huawei has its work cut out if it wants to break into the TV market at all, and that’s before you consider the futility of integrating a cutting-edge 5G modem with a next-generation display. Televisions are famously low-margin products to sell, and the average consumer’s TV upgrade cycle is a lot longer than it is for laptops and smartphones (even if that appears to be changing for the latter). 2019 is also still very early for both 5G and 8K. 5G networks are currently only available in a limited number of locations, and native 8K content will be a rarity for a while yet.
Although the market for a 5G 8K TV will truly be niche in 2019, Chinese smartphone companies have demonstrated a willingness to get seriously experimental when looking for a hit. In other words, just because it’s a bad idea doesn’t mean it won’t happen.