5G is the latest word that is being blown out of proportion in the tech community, to the point that non-tech people are also asking about this. It is the term to garner attention and is used by most brands to aid sales.
This begs a few questions, such as What is 5G? How does it work? And, most importantly, is it the right time to buy a 5G phone? These are some of the most asked questions and, if you too were wondering about the same, worry not, as we will discuss and answer all of these questions.
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What is 5G?
5G, as evident by the name, is the fifth generation of the mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard, which replaces 4G. It enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together at lightning-fast speeds averaging about 1Gbps. Qualcomm, the chipset manufacturer that has played a pivotal role in the spread of information and hype in regards to 5G.
The role of 5G is to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, reduced latency, better network reliability, massive network capacity, increased network availability in areas with poor connectivity, and higher performance coupled with improved efficiency.
There are three types of 5G waves, low-band, mid-band, and high-band or millimeter wave type networks. Out of these three, two are more common, the base low-band variant, more commonly known as sub-6 waves and, the high-band variant that is referred to as mmWave.
The Low-band acts as a blanket network that covers all parts of the country and delivers speeds that are the same as we get in 4G networks but with better latency and reliability. The uncommon mid-band is a much better band than the low-band but it covers comparatively shorter areas and has speeds of about 100-200Mbps.
The last band mmWave is the most interesting one which can deliver speeds of about 1Gbps or more, and this band is rarely available. It delivers the fastest possible speeds but the only downside is that it covers very short areas, particularly a few meters around the mmWave cellular tower.
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Should you buy a 5G phone in India right now?
The answer is ‘No’ and ‘Maybe’, and let’s talk about both aspects and discuss why 5G should not be a primary feature that you look for before buying your next smartphone.
1. 5G is not yet available in India
5G might be the buzz word in town and countries such as the United States have rolled out the technology for its users. But in India, the 5G spectrum is yet to be auctioned and the network providers need to implement the technology to its users.
With the Indian Department of Telecommunications lagging behind in the auction of 5G, the smartphone brands have jumped ahead and launched their 5G smartphones but it makes no sense to buy a 5G compatible smartphone as you won’t be able to use it.
2. Telecom Operators are Reluctant to implement 5G
Since the inception of Jio, the competition amongst the telecom operators have increased a lot and with Jio offering telecom plans at throwaway prices, other telecom operators had to cut down the price as well. This led to all major telecom operators facing massive financial losses.
Now the already debt-ridden telecom operators are reluctant to bid for the 5G spectrum as the technology is expensive and they believe 5G won’t be a big money makes for the first couple of years.
3. 5G devices are Expensive
Smartphones that feature the 5G band are expensive, with the 5G modem built as an added layer onto the Snapdragon 865 chipset, its expensive to produce smartphones as the manufacturing cost of the chipset is high along with the 5G modem.
Last year with Snapdragon 855, it had a built-in 4G modem and a 5G modem can be added for supported markets as an addon. Now with Snapdragon 865 there is no 4G variant and the modem provided is 5G compatible, although the 5G can be disabled for some markets, that does not reduce the manufacturing cost as the modem is still there and it is just disabled.
4. Poor Battery Performance with 5G
The 5G modem is battery hungry and consumes a lot of battery when enabled. The reason behind this is that the 5G service works in conjunction with repetitive signals from 4G as well as 5G and this back and forth switching between the bands to provide a stable connection drains a lot of battery.
5. 5G is still in Development
Many countries might have rolled out the 5G technology and the OEM’s are banking on the availability of 5G in the United States and other countries. But the users are still not getting proper 5G services with the 5G signals only available in large cities and that too in some parts of the city.
Users also report that the 5G speeds are not substantial as promised 1Gbps, and are far from this expected speed. Plus the coverage of mmWave 5G is uncertain and that’s the band that offers maximum speeds of about 1Gbps.
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Should you Buy a 5G Phone?
If you live in India, buying a 5G phone in 2020 is not the best idea, considering it will take 2-3 years for proper rollout and, by then devices with better chips meant for 5G will be available for cheaper.
Basically, to put it simply, do not buy a phone just for 5G, if the phone you are considering has 5G, then it is fine but, do not upgrade or purchase a highly-priced phone just for 5G, since, the spectrum is not yet auctioned and the network providers are not ready with the technology and, there is nothing good about buying a phone for a feature that you can’t even use.