Coverage is patchy, not all 5G networks are the same, and for most Apple customers in most places and on most networks, the speed increase you’ll get using it will be more like fast LTE than anything more profound.

So, what’s next for the much-ballyhooed 5G now that Apple’s introduced the iPhone 12?

When 5G isn’t really 5G

Most of the world’s networks now offer some form of 5G, including Verizon in the U.S. and EE in the UK. The problem is that deployment isn’t universal and in many cases, you’ll only find a 5G network in urban areas — though deployment will now accelerate.

There’s some consumer confusion around 5G, in part generated by poor marketing decisions on behalf of some carriers. At present almost half of iPhone users think they already have 5G. Compounding this is the fact that three basic breeds of 5G exist, each with different speed potentials:

  • Low-band 5G is more widely available, but delivers speeds about as good as 4G LTE.
  • Mid-band 5G delivers better speed than Low-band, and supports much better coverage than mmWave, particularly indoors.
  • mmWave 5G is the highest-frequency brand of 5G. This can deliver speeds topping 1Gbps, but it works only at limited range and doesn’t respond well indoors.

Apple’s devices support all of these three broad 5G families, though mmWave is harder to deploy and unlikely to see a great deal of presence outside major conurbations.

T-Mobile offers mid-band already. AT&T and Verizon are expected to supply it just as soon as they manage to buy additional bandwidth from the FTC.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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