5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

With the deployment of the first 5G networks in the U.S., hype for the next generation of wireless technology is hitting fever pitch. AT&T says 5G “will be a whole new kind of network,” Verizon promises “a spectacular impact on how we live, work and play,” T-Mobile believes 5G “will change the way we live,” and Sprint goes so far as to liken 5G to “the step up from black and white TV to color TV.”

What does all that really mean? Well, in most cases when carriers talk about the advantages of 5G, they’re referring to technologies that are still developing, like autonomous cars, augmented and virtual reality, or the Internet of Things. Those are all fascinating applications, but those discussions don’t provide us with much information about what we should expect from the actual 5G smartphones that are coming soon from companies like OnePlus, Samsung, LG, Google, Asus, Xiaomi, Nokia (HMD), and more. Let’s delve into the details here.

A reasonable expectation for the first 5G smartphones would be that they’re significantly faster than their 4G LTE predecessors. However, as analyst Joe Madden recently noted, 5G phones might not be noticeably faster in the way consumers are expecting. If the public is expecting things like launching Instagram to be faster … well, most of that depends on the computing power of the phone, while only a small amount rests on the actual data transfer time.

[Read More]