In our previous piece on 5G LTE phones and when they will launch it was pretty clear that most networks will have at least one 5G phone on sale at some point this year, but should you buy it?
Obviously if you’ve read the title the answer is no but let’s dig into a few reasons why you should really wait at least one year.
It’s no secret that over the past few years phones have been going into ludicrous mode when it comes to their prices. Good, top tier smart phones used to come in at around the $500/$600 USD mark 5 years ago.
Now they’re easily pushing past $1,000 USD and for what? Slightly bigger screens? More cameras on the back/front? Faster CPU’s? Personally I’d rather see them kill this whole multi-camera trend and scale it – and the phones price – back to a single rear/front shooter but that’s just me. It just kind of feels wrong paying laptop prices for phones…
One things for certain though, 5G will give carriers and phone manufacturers yet another reason they can point to when justifying higher prices. To be fair, 5G is quite a large technical leap forward. You can have a read below of the type of differences and technologies that make 5G special but suffice to say, they aren’t cheap to develop and deploy!
Everything you need to know about 5G
Read the Guide!
So the first phones with 5G will be more expensive. This is the first of many reasons in my opinion on why you should wait.
After price, battery is usually one of the top points when considering a phone. Unlike price though, battery – or lack there of – remains a thorn in your side day after day.
If you weren’t around back when 4G was rolled out you might not remember that the first 4G phones were utterly atrocious when it came to battery life. We’re talking like half a day tops even with brand new phones!
When it comes to technology the first generation is usually put together as best as possible but there’s always efficiency gains and battery saving techniques that are only discovered after you deploy the first generation of it.
Further to this and like with the original 4G phones, the first 5G modem chip-sets are separate to the other 2G-4G SoC’s. This means that instead of having one single, all integrated and power efficient chip running all your G’s, you’re forced to power and run two of them. Obviously this is going to be worse when it comes to battery life.
While most of the phones we’ll be seeing with 5G this year will have the Snapdragon X50 5G modem in them, Qualcomm has already gone ahead and released their 2nd generation X55 chip.
The X55 5G Modem is better in every possible way but most importantly it’s an integrated 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G chip. This means that phone makes don’t have to take as much of a battery (or real estate size) hit when adding the fifth G to their latest flagship.
It’s also ups the already ridiculous 5 Gbps 5G down link of the X50 to 7 Gbps! The 5G uplink (3 Gbps) on this thing is faster than the 4G downlink (2.5 Gbps)!
It also includes a number of other benefits like 200 MHz bandwidth for the sub-6 GHz spectrum vs the old 100 MHz as well as support for 5G/4G spectrum sharing and FDD and SA 5G modes.
You can see all the specs on it at their website here but it’s obviously a good jump over the now 1+ year old X50 modem. And while it’s a bit weird to be already “waiting” for the next iteration of a technology that hasn’t even come out yet in its first form… it’s an important thing to know when it comes to 5G technology and its future.
Wait Until 2020
This new X55 modem will start shipping to phone manufacturers at the end of 2019 according to Qualcomm, so it’s safe to assume we’ll really be seeing almost all phones go 5G properly in 2020.
This isn’t a bad thing as it gives all the carriers much more time to properly roll out their network upgrades as there’s a lot of upgrades to do! It’ll also hopefully mean that the general hype around 5G will have died down at least a little and prices will reduce.
At the end of the day one of the main reasons I created this website is to help everyone learn more about some of the most fantastic future technologies that are fast approaching, their pro’s and con’s and how to best take advantage of them.
When it comes to 5G the hype is actually well justified. If the carriers can keep their backhauls up to scratch we are going to be seeing a huge increase in raw upload and download speeds as can be seen by the X55’s 7/3 Gbps download/upload specs. We’ll also be seeing around 10x faster latency which will potentially enable a slew of new capabilities in mobile devices and make browsing that much more snappier too.
But in regards to how to best take advantage of this new tech? Wait until 2020 to buy your first 5G phone and also start to think now about what you or your business could do if you had real world download speeds 2-5 times faster than what you currently have because that’s coming. Fast.
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