As we look at this week’s big Apple announcement, all expectations are that Apple will join Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and others with 5G-capable phones. It seems exciting. After all, if 4G was good, 5G has to be better. Right?
But here’s the thing: While 5G has long-term potential for overall telecommunications infrastructure, it doesn’t appear to have many near-term advantages for smartphones. In fact, it would seem that if you’re paying just to upgrade your phone to 5G, you’re probably wasting money.
In this article, I’ll explore five reasons it’s hard to get happy about 5G – at least for this generation of smartphones.
1. Not available in most areas
Sure, 5G will be built out tower-by-tower across the United States. But right now, it’s pretty unimpressive. Here’s what CNET wrote in June about connectivity:
On availability, T-Mobile users were connected to its 5G network 22.5% of the time, over twice the percentage of AT&T (10.3%) and nearly double Sprint (14.1%). Verizon, whose millimeter-wave network doesn’t currently extend beyond certain blocks in 35 cities, had users connected to its 5G network just 0.4% of the time, according to OpenSignal.
That’s a best case of 22% of the time. That means that four out of five calls made using the provider with the highest percentage of 5G connections aren’t able to use 5G.
2. Won’t make watching YouTube or Hamilton any better
Sure, you might want to stream your favorite movies in 4K. But here’s a fact of life: If you’re watching a movie on a smartphone, it’s going to be just as pretty in 1080p as in 4K. The screen is too small to make all that much of a difference.
If you’re investing in a brand new phone because you think 5G will make your on-phone video watching