When 5G was first introduced, the big question for smartphone users faced with the prospect of replacing their devices to use it was: Is 5G worth it?
The huge popularity of 5G devices initially seemed like a resounding yes, but there are now concerns that the novelty has waned and many still see little real-world difference between 4G/LTE and 5G speeds…
For many years, 5G has been hyped as one of the biggest developments in mobile technology, with promises of gigabit speeds. Sales of 5G smartphones showed that consumers were sufficiently excited about the technology to upgrade, and Apple’s introduction of 5G for the iPhone 12 was seen as key to the range’s popularity.
However, real life didn’t quite live up to the hype. In my own testing with the iPhone 12, I found that while the isolated 5G coverage occasionally offered broadband-like speeds, the coverage was spotty.
At 10:58 p.m., two 5G bars delivered a completely useless download speed of less than 1 Mbit/s and a decidedly average upload of 11 Mbit/s.
Two minutes later, just a few hundred yards away, two 5G bars have been replaced by four 4G bars and we have a much more respectable 33Mbps up/17Mbps down.
In just a handful of steps, I’ve reached four bars of 5G, at the speeds most people would like to see on their home broadband connection: 196Mbps up, 86Mbps down.
This type of variability is the norm, not the exception. In fact, if you stood still in the exact same spot, you could sometimes see big differences within minutes. From what I’ve seen, signal strength, not 5G vs 4G, is the most important factor in speed. The only exception is that only full-strength 5G will bring you the kind of broadband-like speeds we’ve been promised.
Two years and two iPhones later, things haven’t changed dramatically.
Is 5G worth it? Consumers not so sure anymore
That financial times reports that consumer demand for 5G has declined.
Even in the Southeast Asian markets, which have adopted 5G much faster than most European and North American countries, consumer demand for 5G smartphones has only just begun to slow down. According to a recent report by Canalys, a company that analyzes technology markets, shipments of 5G devices fell by 7 percent to 24.5 million in the second quarter of this year.
“The 5G hype has died down and demand has shifted to more practical aspects of smartphones such as battery life, storage, processor speed and camera quality,” said Chiew Le Xuan, analyst at Canalys. “Everyone is feeling the need and the practical applications of 5G are yet to be seen.” He argues that 4G speeds are sufficient for everyday use in the vast majority of cases.
Airlines worry about the return on their investment
Cellular carriers collectively spent hundreds of billions of dollars buying 5G spectrum and building 5G infrastructure FT says many are now worried about whether that investment will pay off.
Concern is growing as to whether enough people are paying for the services they have invested so much in […]
As intense competition keeps 5G product prices low, operators are trying to recoup some of their infrastructure investments by coaxing consumers into higher tariff bands that offer more data. However, the global livelihood crisis could undermine this strategy, especially since the new products usually only offer minor advantages over the old ones.
The big fear is that the 5G experience will mirror that of 4G/LTE. There, network operators spent huge sums of money to upgrade their networks, but found that consumers were not willing to pay extra for it. The real beneficiaries of LTE have been companies like Apple, Google and Netflix, who now have the higher speeds to offer higher quality streaming without paying the bill.
What is your opinion?
What is your experience with 5G? Have you seen dramatically improved speeds that live up to the hype, or were the improvements more modest? Do you pay or would you pay a premium for 5G? Please take our poll and share your thoughts in the comments.
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