As 2022 approaches, 5G is still a waste of time and money

In September 2019, I took out a 5G contract on a brand new phone. It was an exciting day because the phone was the original Samsung Galaxy Fold, and I was just about to start my life with this phone connected to what was billed as the newest and fastest cellular connection available.

Over two years later, I now know that one of these two technologies would prove to be exciting, enjoyable and beneficial, while the other would prove to be a huge waste of time and money.

Despite the Galaxy Fold’s flaws, I quickly fell in love with it, but despite all its hype, 5G has barely impacted my life, and activating it on my phone in December 2021 is also pointless. that it was over two years ago.


Before I go any further, I’ll point out that my experience will almost certainly not mirror yours exactly. You may have better coverage in your area and you may have traveled more, for example. But I also expect that it will always be difficult to name a specific benefit coming exclusively from 5G during this time, whether or not the 5G symbol is shining on your phone.

I remember the first time the 5G symbol appeared on my Galaxy Fold. This stuck in my mind because not only did my first taste of 5G not come when I was connected to the network I was paying for monthly, but I wasn’t even in the same country. I had just gotten off a flight to Japan and was at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, using a Japanese SIM card that I had purchased for my stay. Guess I had stumbled upon a test site because 5G was not prevalent in Tokyo at the time, and I never received a 5G signal again after leaving the airport.

The fact that I had to travel thousands of miles before 5G finally appeared on my Galaxy Fold set the tone for my continued use. I knew when I signed the contract that my local area didn’t have 5G, but since I lived a few miles from the UK’s second busiest airport, I thought there was a good chance that the coverage is slightly higher on my carrier network list than somewhere in the countryside.

Today, more than two years later, there is still no 5G coverage there. A town about 20 minutes away has a 5G signal, which I used for a recent test. If I go to London, which is around 90 minutes away, 5G is showing up more regularly, but it’s definitely not all the time. It’s also incredibly inconsistent, as I discovered when I performed a 5G phone test in another city. Despite a 5G logo appearing on all phones at the time, I was informed later in a conversation with a chipmaker that the phone may not be using a 5G connection at all.

Do I have any hope that 5G will arrive on my phone soon? I moved home late last year, and according to my carrier’s coverage map, my closest 5G location is a town about a 30-minute drive away. Right now, as I write this, I have a 4G signal bar on my Galaxy Z Fold 3 at home, so I don’t expect 5G to come in the near future if that is. is the best it can do with 4G, a technology that has been around since 2012. It is not important, as I will now explain.

The pandemic and 5G

Just six months after starting my brilliant, data-laden 5G contract, the coronavirus pandemic has occurred. I’m ready to give 5G a break because it won’t have much of an impact on my life in 2020, but my willingness to give 5G the benefit of the doubt doesn’t go far. For example, our forced time at home seemed like a great opportunity for networks and businesses to show off what 5G could do for services like virtual reality and video conferencing, but alas, all we got was that. is silence.

I have done my best to search for a signal on several occasions and visited more places in 2021 where 5G is easier to find. Every time, aside from the surprise of exclaiming that I actually get 5G on my phone (yes, it’s still rare enough that it is an occasion), I couldn’t list a benefit of its presence, or a service, app, or experience that I could try to actually use it.

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
Julian Chokkattu / Digital trends

There is, quite simply, nothing to do with 5G. In 2019, I would have added that this is the start and the benefits will surely start to arrive in the future. After all, that’s what we were being sold. We’re very close to 2022, and I can’t recommend one thing to do with 5G on your phone that will even competently demonstrate how significantly better it is than top-tier 4G, let alone something so cool. that it will amaze you.

You can take a speed test and know that the numbers on the screen will be a little higher than what you would see on the screen of a 4G phone. You can download an app, podcast, or show from Netflix faster than with 4G, but it’s never really that much faster in my experience. I’m also seeing a horrendous lag with 5G as the modem, phone, and network bustle about sorting through the signal before a download starts, negating the supposed speed advantage over just downloading with the 4G.

There is, quite simply, nothing to do with 5G.

In 2021, 5G lets you browse YouTube video with very little lag, web pages appear almost instantly, and yes, files download quickly most of the time. It’s great, except I saw all of this when I first tested 5G in the UK and Monaco, and that was in the summer of 2019. Expect something more is not a big demand now.

Am I expecting too much?

I paid for 5G for two years, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask for it to show up on my phone every now and then, or to have something specific to try when it does. After all, I’ve been hearing about how amazing 5G is (will be?) For even longer than this. Samsung called 2018 the “Year of 5G” at Mobile World Congress and gave industry event attendees a “glimpse into how user-centric 5G networks will soon transform our homes, cars, our cities and more ”.


He said 5G would help us get around in self-driving cars while watching ultra high definition movies indoors, allow us to play streaming games at home with millisecond latency, and we would allow living in smart cities where 5G nodes have been installed inside streetlights. . “Much of the 5G technologies that will enable the introduction of services at this year’s MWC are already in the commercialization stage” Samsung wrote enthusiastically at the time, giving the impression that these innovations were just around the corner.

Samsung admits that some of these advances have necessitated the widespread adoption of fixed wireless access networks (FWAs) and have not really given a time frame for its predictions. But here we are, up to three years after the presentation, and FWA is still largely a work in progress, with the benefits only being discussed. as future possibilities. And Ookla average latency speed for mobile networks in the United States in 2021 is 39 milliseconds. Still a long way to go, then.

The same year, the GSMA, a professional body for the mobile industry, assemble a paper on the “socio-economic benefits of 5G services”, in which he focused on mmWave 5G signals. He predicted that 2024 would be “the year when 5G should begin to show a measurable impact on growth.” It’s only been two years now, but Qualcomm – the loudest voice in the mmWave space – still talks about mmWave in terms of “typical use casesNot real situations, and listing perks that sound like science fiction. For example, have you recently used 5G-based augmented reality to display real-time stats and player information at a sporting event? No, me neither.

I’m sure it will all happen someday, but Openignal 5G performance report mid-2021 showed that even for people who have access to a 5G mmWave signal, they would be connected to it less than 1% of the time, and that was on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. It looks like you can change the release date for the Samsung and GSMA reports from 2018 to 2021 without worrying about them reading like old news.

Whether you care or not, it’s here

I can’t name a single time that I was happy to have 5G on my phone. If I had stayed with a 4G contract in 2019, the next two years would have gone exactly the same. Even though I could get a 5G signal on a regular basis, none of the transformation technologies that it will hopefully someday deliver are available for me to use or even test. Put simply, 5G has been a total waste of my time and money, and any advantage of having it over a really good 4G signal is almost nonexistent.

Today, almost every smartphone that costs over $ 250 has a 5G modem inside, and pretty much every phone contract comes with 5G data as well. The days of paying extra for 5G seem to be over as technology has become mainstream. What a great thing because, while we may have access to 5G in 2021, we are still waiting for a reason for it to exist.

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