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What 5G means for Apple’s iPhone 12



Apple iPhone 12 colors
Apple

All iPhone 12 models support 5G. While some Android phones support 5G, this is the first Apple to bring out phones that support 5G. So are there ultra-fast speeds everywhere? And what does 5G mean for battery life? We̵

7;ll break it down.

Which iPhones have 5G?

All iPhone 12 models support 5G. The iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Max all support 5G.

Future iPhones will likely support 5G as well. However, older iPhones like the iPhone 11, iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and iPhone X don’t support 5G. This feature requires new hardware in the iPhone and cannot be added via a software update.

How fast is 5G?

5G speeds are more complicated than you think. That’s because 5G has multiple variants.

Apple's iPhone presentation with 4.0 Gbit / s and 5 G speed
Apple

The fastest and most hyped version of 5G uses millimeter wave (mmWave) technology to achieve incredibly fast speeds. When someone says that 5G can offer speeds of over 4.0 Gbit / s under “ideal conditions”, it is called millimeter waves.

Here’s the problem: millimeter wave technology is a short range. In dense urban areas, it can be worth installing the necessary amount of base stations for wide coverage, and millimeter waves can deliver high speeds.

But millimeter wave base stations are not covered everywhere where 5G is covered. Smaller cities and rural areas would need many more base stations that are closer together. Realistically, the cost of this deployment means that 5G is unlikely to reach the promised fastest speeds in most small towns, rural areas, and suburbs. You get “Sub-6” 5G that is more similar to 4G LTE.

That doesn’t mean 5G is bad. 5G adds additional mid-band spectrum intended to provide faster service to rural areas covered by a slower low-band service under 4G LTE. 5G should spread cellular data at current speeds and make it more reliable.

5G is an upgrade – and it allows very high speeds with closely spaced cellular base stations under ideal circumstances – but those lightning-fast 5G speeds won’t happen all over the country.

Another problem: in some cases, 5G networks have slower speeds than 4G LTE networks. In September 2020, a PCMag test found that AT & T’s 5G network was slower than the 4G LTE network in almost every city tested. This is a result of AT & T’s decision to deploy 5G and can be addressed by cellular carriers. However, it shows that upgrading to 5G in 2020 isn’t necessarily an improvement.

CONNECTED: Not all 5G are created equal: millimeter wave, low-band and mid-band explained

Will 5G drain your iPhone’s battery?

One
Apple

One reason iPhones likely haven’t included 5G in the past – in addition to cellular carriers taking more time building their 5G networks – is because they can use more battery power.

According to Apple, the antennas of the iPhone automatically switch between 4G LTE and 5G mode to save battery power. If your iPhone doesn’t need 5G, it will use 4G LTE. If 5G speeds help, then your iPhone will switch to 5G. This is known as “Smart Data Mode”.

We assume that Apple has been waiting for the technology to mature and that the iPhone’s battery life will not decrease due to 5G.

Where is 5G available?

If you’re wondering where 5G service is available, you can check your cellular operator’s website. For example, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon have 5G coverage maps. You can zoom in and check out the color-coded map to see what reports from your carrier are available in your area.

Keep in mind that most maps only show where 5G is available. They often don’t show where fast millimeter wave 5G is available. Most of the 5G coverage shown on the map consists of 5G in the middle and lower bands.

Verizon is unusually transparent here compared to other wireless carriers. Verizon calls its 5G millimeter wave function “5G Ultra Wideband” and shows areas on its map that support 5G Ultra Wideband. For example, if you look at Verizon’s map of 5G coverage in Los Angeles, you’ll see 5G Ultra Wideband (millimeter wave) on some city blocks, but not in most parts of the city.

Verizon's map of 5G coverage in Los Angeles

You may want to search for “Millimeter Wave 5G” and the name of your carrier or city to see if your carrier has announced it’s available in your city.

Do you have to pay extra for 5G?

While you definitely need a 5G phone to use 5G, you probably don’t have to pay extra for 5G service. Cellular providers offer 5G services as part of their standard cellular plans.

Verizon planned to charge an additional $ 10 per month to access the 5G network, but discontinued that plan in August 2020. We are not aware of any wireless carriers in the US that charge additional fees for 5G.

Should you be interested in 5G?

In the long term, 5G is an important upgrade. For example, cellular data can be much faster in dense urban areas and stadiums. When millimeter wave base stations are deployed on a larger scale, 5G can even transform your home internet connection. Speeds similar to 4G LTE should also become more widespread and reliable in less dense areas.

In the short term, most people are unlikely to be close enough to mmWave base stations to see these high speeds. Worse still, 5G networks take longer and may be slower than their 4G counterparts. Hopefully the iPhone is smart enough to use 4G LTE networks when they are faster than 5G networks.

The release of a 5G iPhone by Apple is an important step. 5G is the future, and carriers will take it even more seriously as so many iPhone users are benefiting from it.

But is 5G a must at the end of 2020? Not really. Not for most people.

Here’s the good news: all iPhone 12 models support 5G and all support millimeter wave (mmWave) technology. When you upgrade to a new iPhone, you get 5G support. These 5G networks get better the longer you keep your iPhone.

However, if you’re happy with your iPhone and are considering upgrading to 5G only, we don’t recommend it. 5G takes even more time before it’s really valuable to most people.

If you live in a dense urban area next to mmWave-enabled base stations, a 5G-enabled iPhone might be a worthwhile upgrade! But most people are not in that situation.

CONNECTED: What is 5G and how fast will it be?




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