New research shows that more than 70% of US mobile phone users have not heard of 5G. Almost none said 5G would influence the purchase of a new smartphone. Here is our 5G Guide.

We will get to the 5G research later – suffice to say that Telco’s and smartphone makers will spend huge marketing dollars to get you to buy one. In writing our 5G Guide we arrived at a strongest conclusion – do not purchase unless you have a genuine early-adopter, use case.

5G is coming, and all the marketing hype (at least overseas) suggests that unless you go 5G (yes, at a huge cost) you will suffer a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out – being left behind), will not have the super high data speeds, or the security you need. If you hark back a decade, 4G had the very same hype at its introduction. All Marketing BS.

GadgetGuy, a born sceptic, has run the 5G hype up the flagpole and frankly, none of it flies – let alone flaps gently in the breeze. Our brief 5G guide shows why you should not care about 5G – at least for a few more years.

GadgetGuy’s 5G Guide

5G is equal parts of marketing hype and true technology. The promise is years away.

5G is the next logical step after 4G, just as 4K was logical after 1K TV. There is nothing magic about it. 5G will do what 4G currently does – only faster.  At this stage 5G for consumers is all about getting you to buy more expensive 5G handsets and commit to higher value data plans for NO EXTRA benefit.

In fact, 5G in a consumer sense is about reviving flagging smartphone sales. For 99.9% of the world 3G or 4G are just fine thanks and 4G is not going anywhere for at least the next decade. Maybe in 3-5 years, 5G may have some verifiable consumer use cases when its coverage is better, and its prices are lower.

What is 5G – let’s get techy?

5G Guide
5G just does it faster!

In Australia, 5G will transmit and receive on three bands. Initially, it is the slower low-band (sub 1GHz) and mid-band (1-6GHz) both known as sub-6GHz. The faster Australian high-band (6GHz+) or mmWave (24.25–27.5GHz) – never used for Internet and communications technology here – will not be active until later in 2021. As yet there is no legislation to define the use of this spectrum, so no Telco has purchased bandwidth. And it may be reserved for commercial and special use cases – not consumers.

5G Guide

All bands perform at different speeds and latencies. Sub-6GHz is only marginally faster than 4GX Cat 9. mmWave is much faster but much easier to disrupt, and there are health questions as well.

That means your phone will need a 5G modem to support all three bands/waves to be futureproof. But it will also need to support any unique Australian frequencies used within those bands – these will not be the same worldwide, so a global 5G phone is still some way off.

We won’t go into the intricacies of NSA (non-standalone) SA (standalone) modes, but current modems only support NSA. Yet another reason to wait for dual support.

Also, a phone needs to support 3G, 4G and any other standards (GSM/CDMA/UTMS) used in your country.

This is currently via a separate 3/4G modem chip now usually built into the Qualcomm, Exynos or Kirin SoC. We recommend you wait until everything is built into the SoC – at least two to three years away.

Fact: The current two main 5G modems are the Qualcomm X50 and Huawei Balong 5000 only support sub-6GHz in NSA mode – not the mmWave high-band or SA mode that is the future of 5G.

Being higher frequency than 3G or 4G, these high-band waves do not travel easily through buildings (or anything really)

5G requires ‘small cells’ everywhere – in fact you will need to be within 300 metres of one to get mmWave . We are talking tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands when you take the three Telcos into account) of ‘small cell’ transmitters placed on almost every telephone/power pole/building/train station/airport/tunnel/roadside around the country.