5G is the next big thing. The new-generation mobile network is being rolled out all over the world as we speak. Its rollout is not without issues, though – some providers are met with hostility, and some antennae, with fire. This doesn’t stop it from being deployed in an ever-increasing number of areas. And it doesn’t stop smartphone makers from embedding 5G-capable modems into their handsets.
A series of 5G smartphones have been revealed, even released by several manufacturers already. As the number of these is growing, one can’t help but wonder if it’s worth investing in a next-generation 5G smartphone right now?
What are the benefits of a 5G smartphone compared to a “traditional” LTE-capable one? Comparing 4G and 5G will show you that the latter is capable of superior transfer speeds, better sound quality, and more simultaneous connections to the same tower. The question is: are these benefits alone worth the investment in a next-generation smartphone right now?
The answer is probably “no”. In most areas where some form of a 5G network was deployed, it’s 5G NR (5G protocols over LTE hardware) which offers some improvement over LTE but nothing dramatic – nothing to really justify the extra investment in the new phone.
The 5G network is being built as we speak. Right now, it is available in a handful of countries, mostly in the most densely populated urban areas. In other areas, the above-mentioned 5G NR is being rolled out, with telecoms planning to build their true 5G infrastructure in the near future. In some countries, the frequencies are yet to be allocated to the telecoms bidding for them.
The network is growing fast but, depending on where you live, it may be too early to invest in a 5G-capable smartphone.
Let’s face it, 5G is an excellent selling point for a smartphone – and manufacturers are making good use of it. Right now, the cheapest 5G smartphone is the Realme X50 5G (Chinese version) that you can buy for around $400-$470 USD, depending on the store. Its capabilities are similar to other handsets that, without support for 5G, can be much, much cheaper.
The 5G phones of all other manufacturers fit in anywhere between the upper-mid-range and the high-end. And this usually means extra bucks paid to have them.
If you are planning to switch to a new phone in the coming weeks, by all means, do check out a 5G-capable phone – it may be a good investment for the future. But don’t switch phones for the 5G alone. At least not yet. More options – many of them at much friendlier prices – will emerge in the coming months.