Over the past few weeks, there have been reports on how to convert 4G to 5G in seconds. The concept of using a smartphone case to convert 4G to 5G first hit the web in a bid to save Huawei. Interestingly, the major company behind the development of this case is not popular. Two months ago, China Unicom, one of the major carriers in China revealed that it will officially release the “5G Communication Shell” and give priority to listing it on China Unicom channels. According to China Unicom, the so-called “5G communication shell” is the hardware that makes it possible to convert 4G to 5G in seconds through eSIM technology. This smartphone case supports Huawei P50 Pro and it can use China Unicom 5G network.
Main brand behind the “convert 4G to 5G” technology
The 5G smartphone case usually comes with the Huawei P50 Pro on China Unicom’s platform. Although China Unicom is significantly popularizing this product, it is not a hardware product from China Unicom. The main brand behind the 5G communication case is Digital Source Technology. Although this company dates back to 1973, its first registration in China was in 1999. It has digital electronic information and communication products as its main business. The main business includes high-definition LCD TV, digital TV set-top box, information software, Internet of Things, Internet of Vehicles, new energy, real estate, software park construction and other industrial products and businesses.
Digital Source Technology records a 1.778 billion yuan ($264 million) revenue in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 32.2%. The company’s operating profit is 120 million yuan ($18 million), a year-on-year increase of 98.86%. Furthermore, its net profit is 60 million yuan ($9 million), a year-on-year increase of 39.87%. We can see that Digital Source Technology may not be popular but its finances are pretty decent.
According to the company, despite this breakthrough, its business model remains the same. The company claims that the “5G communication shell” is a personal consumer electronic product for specific users. It uses modules and other components for external procurement.
How new is the 5G communication shell concept
When the article “Convert 4G to 5G in seconds” first hit the public, it appeared like a new breakthrough technology. However, this is not the case as we have had similar technologies. The “5G communication shell” is not a new concept. The “Apple Peel” that first appeared in the 2010s also transformed the iPod Touch, an MP4 multimedia player with functions such as listening to music and watching videos, into an iPhone with communication functions such as sending text messages, surfing the Internet, and making calls.
The “Apple Peel” looks similar to a mobile phone protective cover. The back of the protective cover has a physical SIM card slot, a communication module, and a data interface at the bottom to connect with MP4. In layman’s terms, a communication module with a communication function is available to the MP4 peripheral.
5G communication shell concept is similar to Apple Peel
The principle of the “5G communication shell” is similar to that of “Apple Peel”. However, it is just a physical SIM card, which becomes an eSIM card.
The eSIM card is a virtual card that telecom operators actively promote. Mobile phones and other hardware manufacturers are also promoting eSIM. In the past, our phone cards have undergone decades of evolution, such as SIM, Mini-SIM, Micro-SIM, and Nano-SIM. Although they are getting smaller, they are all physical cards. The eSIM is an embedded SIM, that is, the SIM card is directly embedded in the hardware device. Thus, users no longer need a physical card in the physical sense.
At present, most eSIM cards are mostly on wearable devices. For example, the eSIM card is embedded in the smartwatch, and the smartwatch is paired and connected to the mobile phone. After the eSIM function is enabled on the mobile phone APP, a dual terminal on one number is realized, so that the smartwatch can access the Internet and make independent calls.
“Convert 4G to 5G” technology uses an integrated SIM Card
The “5G communication shell” uses an embedded SIM card, so that the eSIM signal in the communication shell is integrated with the SIM card signal in the mobile phone to form a 5G signal. According to the user guide on the official website of Digital Source Technology, there is a USB interface inside the “5G communication shell”. After the mobile phone aligns with the internal USB interface, the mobile phone will automatically display a pop-up window to connect and pair with Huawei. After the pairing is successful, it will jump to the smart life management page, and then enter the eSIM activation page. Select the SIM to be bound, and complete the operator’s eSIM service activation.
5G communication shell opens eSIM interface Image source: Shuyuan Technology official website
The thickness of the communication shell is 3.2mm and the weight is about 52g. There is a dual-core CPU chip inside the communication shell. This communication shell supports 5G NSA (non-independent networking), SA (independent networking), and Sub-6 networks. In addition to the USB port inside the communication case, there is also a charging port outside the phone case. This allows the case to support super-fast charging of mobile phones.
The ‘5G communication shell’ works as a 5G CPE (which requires a physical SIM card). When early 5G mobile phones were not available, manufacturers had to use 5G CPE terminals. 5G CPE is equivalent to a 5G modem and WiFi. The combination of routers can convert the 5G signal of the operator’s base station into a WiFi signal. This will allow users to feel the 5G network speed in advance through the WiFi network.