Do You Need a 5G Phone Yet?

August 28, 2020 •

5G Phones

This time last year, 5G was barely more than a novelty. The phones were available, but the high price tag and the lack of network service meant that buying one didn’t make sense. Since 5G networks started rolling out in April, however, things have changed. All of the major networks offer at least some coverage, and manufacturers are offering more models. Samsung, for instance, is offering 5G connectivity on every Galaxy S20 model. But, do you need to update yet? It all depends on what your specific needs are and what’s offered in your area. Here are a few of the pros and cons:

Faster Service on a 5G Phone

In tests, 5G offers faster speed and lower latency than 4G networks. This is true whether the network is using super fast millimeter wave technology or low-bandwidth spectrums.

However, even if you stick with your 4G phone for awhile longer, you may still see speed improvements without having to upgrade. There are two reasons for this: first, as more users adopt 5G, you’ll see less competition for 4G. Second, dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology means that carriers will often be using the same spectrum band for both.

Wider Reach

All four networks have rolled out 5G at this point. However, check a coverage map to see whether 5G is available where you are now. Don’t make a decision based on proposed network coverage that will show up at a later date. Past experiences with fiber optic and other technologies show that these coverage maps are often overly optimistic.

As it stands now, super fast 5G can be hard to find on a consistent basis. In many areas, you’ll probably see a slight improvement over 4G, but nothing too dramatic.

5G Phones Are More Affordable

The first 5G phones had an outsize price tag, but there are now several models available in the $1,000 range. If it’s time for you to upgrade your phone anyway, a 5G phone could be a good pick. However, if you would be switching for 5G capability alone, hold onto your wallet a little longer. Lower cost 5G phones are on the way.

Even when 5G becomes the standard, it will not completely replace 4G. So, if you have a phone you love, you’ll still be able to continue to use it. For now, you can buy a 5G phone if it’d benefit you, but a 5G phone has not risen to the level of need.