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The Fusion 5G arrives on AT&T’s shelves this Friday, January 7th. | Image: AT&T

AT&T has announced the Fusion 5G, a budget phone with a couple of features previously reserved for much more expensive devices: mmWave 5G and wireless charging. It will cost $219 (or $6.12 per month if you’d rather go that route) when it goes on sale this Friday, January 7th.

Support for mmWave is a bit rare in the under-$300 class — many budget phones only offer the more common but (currently) mediocre sub-6GHz 5G rather than faster but hard-to-find mmWave. In fact, back in the heady, early days of 5G in the US, phones like the Google Pixel 4A were sold in two variants: a cheaper version with sub-6GHz only and a more expensive one with mmWave. A couple of years later, it’s still tough to find a mmWave signal, but at least you don’t have to pay more for a phone that supports it.

Wireless charging is a notable inclusion, too, though not entirely unheard of in a budget phone. Like mmWave, it’s a formerly flagship-only feature that’s still somewhat uncommon even in midrange devices. Other specs include a 6.82-inch display, 4,750mAh battery, 48-megapixel rear main camera, and 64GB of built-in storage. It ships with Android 11.

it’s still tough to find a mmWave signal, but at least you don’t have to pay more for a phone that supports it

While mmWave is a nice inclusion on paper for the price, realistically most Fusion 5G owners will be connecting to sub-6GHz 5G. AT&T hasn’t been as aggressive as Verizon in building out its mmWave network. Unless you spend a significant amount of your time in NFL stadiums or certain parts of certain airport terminals, you may never come across a mmWave signal. In any case, sub-6GHz 5G will slowly get better when AT&T begins lighting up its new, faster C-band spectrum — which won’t happen for a couple more weeks at least.

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