Apple’s new iPhone 12 series has a faster processor, better cameras and MagSafe charging in an exciting new design. But the phone’s defining feature is its 5G wireless chip, which opens the door to zippy mobile networks that surpass cable internet. So, are you going to upgrade to iPhone 12 just for 5G?
Is 5G really that special?
Companies like Apple are excited about 5G because it will revolutionize the internet. Under perfect conditions, 5G is a hundred times faster than today’s 4G technology. It has a theoretical maximum speed of 10 Gbps, which is faster than cable internet and can be compared to some service providers’ fiber plans.
In other words, 5G is the real deal! Large movie or game downloads only take a few seconds with a 5G connection. A 5G phone can participate in mobile zoom calls without any delay and quality issues with 4G phones. And as mobile gaming grows exponentially, 5G stands as the only solution for data-heavy multiplayer and gaming experiences.
All iPhone 12 models support 5G connections, so even an upgrade to the cheaper iPhone 12 mini can change your mobile experience for the better. At least that’s how it is on paper. In reality, 5G is still rare, and not all 5G connections are the same. The average iPhone 12 buyer may not experience a significant increase in mobile speed, provided they even have 5G services in their area.
5G is still rare, and not all 5Gs are the same
You can not have a good story without a tragic irony. The secret behind 5G’s speed is its use of high frequency signals, which have lots of data and a lightning fast pace. But this speed is a compromise for stability. While slow 4G signals can reliably travel long distances, 5G signals can hardly overcome an empty city street.
We are finally at the point where fragile 5G signals are sustainable thanks to dynamic signal switching and a system with three separate 5G spectra. Still, carriers need to install 5G hardware every few blocks to provide a noticeably reliable 5G service for a city or town. This is why 5G takes so long to deploy, especially in small towns, suburbs and rural areas.
Even if your corner of the world has 5G access today, you may not notice any significant difference between it and 4G. This is because the fastest 5G spectrum, called millimeter wave (mmWave), has a short range and requires hundreds (or thousands) of base stations to provide full coverage for a city. Carriers are not willing to install expensive mmWave hardware in rural areas, so they opt for slow wide range sub-6 5G stations instead. Sub-6 5G speeds are comparable to 4G LTE and may be slower than 4G depending on your service provider.
Want to check if 5G millimeter scale is available in your area? Verizon’s coverage map distinguishes between slow “Nationwide” 5G and faster mmWave “5G Ultra Wideband” signals. Other operators, such as AT&T and T-Mobile, are not as transparent about their coverage. I suggest you google “5G millimeter wave” along with the city name to check if 5G coverage is available in your area.
If you are lucky enough to get mmWave 5G access, then hey, that’s a good reason to buy an iPhone 12! But even without 5G, the iPhone 12 is a great device. You should still consider upgrading, even if you live in the countryside without a lick of 5G.
There are other reasons to upgrade
As always, the new iPhone series has an improved processor, a better screen and stylish new camera sensors. That’s probably a reason to upgrade to the iPhone 12, especially if you’ve rocking on a device that came out before the iPhone X.
But what if you come from a newer iPhone? And why would you buy iPhone 12 over the discounted iPhone 11? To be completely honest, the iPhone 12 does not have lots of new features. The big new feature (besides 5G) is the MagSafe connector – a magnet inside the iPhone 12 that lets you connect accessories, cases and fantastic wireless chargers.
The iPhone 12 also has some small improvements in the quality of life as a harder ceramic screen with four times better drip performance than previous iPhones. The expensive iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max also offer 4K 60 FPS recording with Dolby Vision HDR, which is a huge improvement over previous iPhones.
And hey, mmWave 5G coverage is coming eventually find your way to your city. You can buy an iPhone 12 today and take advantage of 5G in a year or two, or send it to a friend or family member if you want to replace your phone in a few years. The iPhone 12 can also hold its value better than previous iPhones, as the average buyer does not want to own a slower 4G phone when 5G is ubiquitous and reliable.