5G or Fifth Generation of wireless networking is on the rise, and we can see it around us everyday flashing in the news. 5G offers much higher speed and can connect to a higher number of devices than the present 4G or LTE network. It is supposed to support up to a million devices per sq. Km, providing speeds up to 10Gbps on a handheld device. This connectivity is much higher than the LTE or 4G network, which can only support up to 100,000 devices per sq. Km. 5G has reported having a much lower latency rate as well compared to the present technologies.
With the recent developments in 5G worldwide, there are multiple applications possible with the implementation of 5G. This technology can give a boost to a much better digital world by supporting IoT devices, smart-home devices and can even help in building smart cities.
5G smartphones in 2020: Hot or not?
Availability of 5G
In India, there have been some 5G trials by different companies, but as of now, it is not open for public use. Different telecom operators like BSNL, Airtel and Jio have conducted 5G trials, and telecom equipment manufacturers like Huawei, Ericsson, and Samsung are also testing various use cases. But there is a catch here.
The government has not done 5G spectrum allocation yet, which was to be done in 2019. This will enable telecom operators to start full trials in different parts of the country. Even if the spectrum allocation is done at its earliest now, it will take up to six months to an entire year for the companies to roll out 5G as they will need different infrastructure and equipment.
In the initial phase, the companies can do it through the 4G or LTE infrastructure using non-standalone (NSA) mode. With further development, it will be swapped with the standalone (SA) mode that will be used on the 5G core network once it is fully developed. In the west, telecom operators in the US have rolled out 5G to the end-users. Different telecom operators like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile have started their commercial 5G services in parts of the country but aren’t available throughout the nation as with 4G availability. The 5G service doesn’t live up to the hype of the crazy fast download speeds.
OpenSignal measured the maximum 5G speed in the USA to be 1,815Mbps or 1.8Gbps approximately. This speed, though not bad at all, is much less than the speeds promised during the 5G hype created. Smartphones with 5G support are also very rare in the market and differ from operator to operator. T-Mobile supports only two 5G phones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren Edition.
Similarly, in the other countries where 5G has been commercially rolled out, such as the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, the 5G network is available only in some areas of the country. It will take time to make it possible to have 5G access everywhere.
Expensive 5G Smartphones
Different smartphone manufacturers are pushing their 5G handsets into the market and hope to be one of the first 5G devices people use in their daily lives. Smartphone chipset companies have started to manufacture chipsets with 5G modems support in them.
Qualcomm has launched two new chipsets, the Snapdragon 865 which requires the snapdragon X55 5G modem separately to connect to a 5G network and the Snapdragon 765 which will have an in-built 5G modem. These chipsets enable smartphone manufacturers to pack their phones with 5G capabilities. Companies have priced their 5G handsets significantly higher than the regular version of the phones. The Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G and OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren Edition cost $200 more than their non-5G versions.
So should you buy a 5G device?
Even though there are several 5G smartphones in the market, the actual infrastructure to support the 5G network is still in development and will take time. Paying more just for getting a new technology that isn’t even available everywhere and will take quite some time to develop and mature is not the smart choice.
While you might feel that buying a 5G smartphone is future-proofing, you’ll most probably end up buying a new smartphone by the time 5G reaches to its full potential where it can be a reliable source of network connectivity. Till then, you can easily meet the basic requirements for everyday usage with a 4G smartphone.
Let us know in the comment section below on what you think of the 5G technology and do you think it is a smart choice to pick a 5G phone right now?
A BTech student whose interest lies in automobiles, tech, music, coding and badminton.