It's amazing to imagine how, just a few years ago, all you could ever do with your phone was place a call or send an SMS. But now, thanks to the 5G network, you can stream or download on your phone faster than ever before. But, is the 5G hype really worth buying into in 2020? Giant smartphone makers like Samsung, LG, and Motorola have already rolled out several 5G-enabled phones on the market. But, should you buy one yet? It all depends, and here's our take.
5G Network Coverage
A lot has changed since 5G networks came online back in April 2019. Four of the major U.S. carriers, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile already began activating 5G networks all around the U.S. While the coverage is still limited to some areas, 5G is already here right now. The 5G service gives you faster data speeds and downloading a high-resolution movie will be a matter of seconds instead of minutes. You can chat on a high resolution with people around the world and it will change how you use your smart TV at home. However, the full benefits might take longer to materialize considering that its coverage is not as widespread as was projected. Currently, it looks like if you don’t live in the suburbs of a major city, then you might have to wait a little longer before you consider buying a 5G device. And since you can't know for sure how long that will be, it's wise to hold on to your 4G phone.
Last year, 5G phones were pretty pricey with Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G costing an eye-popping $1,299. That’s a whopping $500 extra just to get 5G service. Right now, that’s not really worth paying for since you won't be experiencing the benefits of a 5G network in your area soon. However, the network coverage is expected to be widespread later on in the year. Hopefully, the arrival of the X55 modem, a smaller and faster integrated chip, is expected to bring down the prices of 5G handsets. Currently, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is the cheapest phone, with Sprint selling it at $840. Samsung’s Galaxy S20 is right behind it at $999. In other words, if you wait just a little bit longer, you’re likely to land a great deal for a 5G-enabled smartphone.
5G Phones Are on the Increase
Unlike last year, 2020 has seen the increase in the availability of 5G phones that work with every carrier. A few giant tech companies, such as Samsung, Oppo, OnePlus, LG, and Motorolla have rolled out different models of their 5G phones at cheaper prices than what we saw throughout 2019. With more companies expected to join the 5G bandwagon, you’ll have even more varieties to choose from at affordable prices.
5G Is Really Fast, but 4G Is Enough
Like we mentioned earlier, downloading a movie on the 5G network can take seconds. This is because the new Snapdragon X55 integrated chip 5G modem is faster and capable of hitting speeds of up to 7 Gbps, which is way far beyond what we are currently using on 4G networks. Regardless of such speeds, you can still do much with 4G phones. Granted, the downloads won't be as fast but with speeds of up to 100 Mbps, you can enjoy seamless streaming and decent download speed. That seems enough for a regular user for normal daily use.
You’ll Need New Phones
Older 5G phones might not support some of the networks offered by U.S. carriers. For instance, the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and the Galaxy S10 5G use the older X50 Qualcomm modem. This means that they can't support T-Mobile or AT&T’s sub-6 network, which are the kind of 5G networks that most people will be using in 2020. So, if you're considering upgrading to a 5G phone, you’d want to consider buying the phones equipped with the newer modem. For those who are sticking with Verizon and Sprint, older 5G phones will work on those networks but will not be as efficient as the second generation phones equipped with the new X55 modem. Plus, the more the sub-6 networks become widespread, the more the use of the older 5G phones will become limited.
Analysts expect iPhone 12 to hit the market with 5G connectivity. However, the launch is not expected until this fall, and this could be delayed further given the coronavirus outbreak, which could potentially disrupt Apple’s production schedule in Asia. In other words, iPhone users may have to wait until 2021 to get their first 5G phones.
The future of 5G will probably start taking more effect in 2021 and by this time, there will be plenty of 5G phone choices. The 5G service has great potential and we can't wait to see where it takes us in the next 10 years.