5G Phones Are Coming – But Why Do They Matter?
If you pay attention to what’s happening in the world of mobile phones – or just the world of technology in general – you’re probably aware that 4G is about to give way to 5G at the top end of mobile phone network performance. With 5G will come a whole range of brand new mobile phone handsets, and commercials telling you that you need to get yourself a new phone right now if you want to take advantage of all the latest features. But what is 5G, and is it really worth updating your current hardware to take advantage of the new technology?
What’s In A Name?
5G quite literally means ‘the fifth generation.’ Mobile phone technology is worked on and improved all the time, but a new ‘generation’ of technology means there’s been a significant step up in terms of what’s possible. In this case, it means that wireless data networks are about to leap into a new era, and we’re about to break records in terms of connection speeds and network reliability again. To explain things in more technical terms, the launch of 5G – which became available in several locations around the world in May this year – means that we’re operating with new rules when it comes to mobile data. The chips and antennas inside new-generation phones are different from the ones that can be found inside 4G phones. The frequencies used to broadcast the data received by those chips and antennas are different.
Why Is It Necessary?
To put it simply, you can’t stand in the way of progress. Just like some old television sets were rendered useless when analog television signals were switched off, some old phones which have struggled along into the current age will prove to be incapable of receiving 5G. If you’re happy with your handset and you have no issue with your data speed, the fact that you now can’t take advantage of the latest innovations might be frustrating. It’s a necessary step, though, because the type and amount of data we process through our mobile phones has changed dramatically over the course of the past decade.
Most of the increased demand for data is down to the fact that many of us now use our phones for things we’d use a laptop or desktop for five years ago. Entire industries have changed focus because of this. As an example, consider the evolution of mobile slots. Ten years ago, mobile slots were barely past the development stage – anybody wanting to play slots outside of a casino setting was doing so through their humble computer. Online casino website like KongCasino.com came along and gave gamblers the chance to do the same thing, but through their phones. Because that was seen as a more convenient way of playing, mobile slots are now surpassing online slots as the way that players prefer to engage with slot games. That means more traffic, and greater dependence on a reliable connection (if data fails while playing mobile slots, bets are voided. That’s not good for players or providers). Where industries find a need, technology follows.
What Came Before This Point?
If you’re lucky to be young enough to remember the very first mobile phones that had an internet connection, then you remember the 3G network. Because we’ve all heard of 3G, it’s easy to believe that’s where the story began, but it wasn’t. The first generation of wireless mobile phones – with their huge batteries – was launched during the 1980s. Although nobody called them as such, they’re now recognized as 1G phones. 2G phones came along in 1991, and they were the first to allow for the possibility of SMS messaging. Internet connections were the next big breakthrough, and they arrived in 1998 with 3G. We’ve been on 4G – with fully-fledged internet access as opposed to WAP – since 2008.
What Makes 5G Better?
One simple answer – speed. The transition between 3G and 4G was mostly about speed, and the upgrade to 5G is happening because now we can go faster again. If you’re using a mobile phone in a 4G connectivity area, your optimum download speed is somewhere between twenty and thirty megabytes per second. That’s around the same speed as the average home computer internet connection on WiFi, and so it feels fast. 5G, believe it or not, is up to ten times faster. That means no buffering on videos, lightning-fast downloads, and HD resolution video calls if you have a camera which can support them. Lag should become a thing of the past, as should pixelation. At 300 megabytes per second or faster, from the point of view of a user, everything should be almost instant.
Should I Upgrade To A 5G Phone Now?
It might be better to wait a while unless you’re someone who relishes being right at the cutting edge of technology. Although 5G is switched on in most major cities, the network isn’t yet complete. You won’t get 5G coverage everywhere you go, and you’ll also find that some websites you use haven’t optimized their services for 5G customers yet. As an example, you should be able to download an HD-resolution movie from Netflix to your 5G phone in a matter of seconds, because Netflix is 5G-ready, but the Google Play store isn’t yet. Downloading apps and software from Google will take the same amount of time as it does right now.
There’s also cost and storage to consider. If you start downloading movies and huge files from the internet to your phone, you’re going to burn through a lot of data. That data is going to come at a cost, and your current deal with your network provider might not be designed to deal with that cost. The last thing you need is huge data charges on top of the considerable outlay you’ve just made on a new phone. Phones aren’t as big as most external hard drives either – even if you have 256GB storage on your phone, you’ll find that it soon fills up if you’re constantly downloading movies and other large files. You can avoid that by streaming films instead of downloading them – but if you can already do that comfortably with 4G, then why bother upgrading?
New technology is always very exciting, but we don’t have to buy anything just because it’s exciting. If you’re big on technology, there’s no harm in jumping on the 5G network early and finding out what the fuss is all about. If you’re not, it’s probably worth hanging back for six or twelve months, letting the new system iron out all the inevitable teething problems that will occur, and then making the change when coverage is better and data charges have settled.