5G started to take off around 2019, and it became widely available by the middle of 2020 and early 2021. Smartphones also started to come out with 5G around the same time, and carriers quickly jumped on advertising the new technology as something you must have to encourage more users to upgrade and sign up for more expensive plans.
This strategy seems to have worked, and many users upgraded, but there are still tens of millions of people who are using 4G smartphones. 4G devices are often equipped with slower chipsets, but that’s not true for all devices and manufacturers. In the case of HUAWEI, the company has been put on a special entity list that bans the company from accessing 5G technologies.
In this article, we’ll provide three reasons why it doesn’t make much sense to buy a 5G smartphone in 2022. Suppose you’re happy with your current 4G-only device. In that case, we don’t necessarily recommend you to upgrade, unless your phone is starting to show its age, and you have legitimate reasons to upgrade – such as wanting a better display, camera, and faster speeds when gaming or browsing the web.
- 1 5G isn’t fully utilized yet
- 2 5G mmWave adoption is slow
- 3 4G is available everywhere, and it works great
5G isn’t fully utilized yet
On paper, the sub-6GHz technology is faster than 4G LTE, but that’s not always the case in practice. Depending on your area and traffic, you may see 40 Mb/s download speeds and 150 Mb/s at other times, over LTE. Sub-6Ghz can often yield similar results, although it can range anywhere between 10 Mbps to a couple of hundred Mbps. The average speed for 5G networks is used to be around 50 MB/s, while LTE is around 28MB/s in 2020 (via OpenSignal). You can find more up-to-date analytics on this page.
As a power user, I see no noticeable benefits of using 5G while traveling and using Google Maps. When I occasionally want to see videos on-the-go, I usually turn to YouTube or Netflix, and 4G provides a comfortable experience. There are usually no buffer or loading screens, and content often loads in a matter of seconds. While 5G – in theory – eliminates ever seeing the loading screen, it can happen, depending on the traffic and your location to the nearest tower.
5G mmWave adoption is slow
The 5G mmWave technology is a true game-changer, and it lets you download at gigabit speeds. Downloading the entire series of your favorite TV show could take only a few seconds, and it could have a massive impact on machine learning, and autonomous driving technologies.
Big companies are already using it where possible, in many large US cities, but it’s still unavailable outside less densely populated areas. mmWave can’t travel as far as sub-6Ghz; therefore, the speeds are much slower. Sub-6Ghz is easier to install, and it’s widely available worldwide, while mmWave is behind as it requires more hardware and more towers.
4G is available everywhere, and it works great
4G might not be as fast as 5G, but it’s available in most rural places and the countryside. It provides great speeds even when you’re in the middle of nowhere, and it works for the most part. 4G is also stable; it lets you easily browse the web, make calls, and even make video calls with friends and family.
Many applications and services are also well optimized to provide a comfortable experience while the connection is slow, and it’s rare to see an application and content loading for more than 20 seconds in developed regions. If you consume a lot of media, you might think that 5G will yield better results, and while that could certainly happen, you’re better off checking your carrier’s website for more information to see if there are 5G towers near your home or workplace.