At the Dawn of 5G, Should You Still Buy a 4G Smartphone?

By: | October 26th, 2020

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

As 5G networks are being rolled out in many countries around the world, and with the hype about the new mobile internet connectivity technology riding the wave, people are rightfully wondering, is it time to ditch the 4G choice yet? The answer is somewhat complicated, but basically it’s a “no”, and here’s why.

5G coverage will need at least another three years if not more, in order to become ubiquitous. Until then, 5G will only be available in malls, stadiums, airports, etc. So, first of all, even if your device is 5G-capable, you will be stuck with 4G most of the time.

Then there’s the absence of a killer app that puts the advantages of 5G into action. We know that 5G will decrease latencies and increase data transfer speeds greatly, so teleconferencing without hiccups and freezes should become a thing. Also, live streaming on 4K, or cloud gaming on AAA titles, or big data analytics while “on the go” will all be theoretically feasible. Yet, there’s still none of that enabled on the software level yet, so people who rock a 4G device aren’t missing out on something “hot” or “cool” at the moment.

Sure, you may think that buying a 5G device now makes your investment future-proof, but you are letting the fact that you are a beta-tester slip. 5G devices are going to get better with time, more energy-efficient, generate less heat, support more bands, etc. This optimization and design improvement can only come with time and real-world testing, and 2020 5G devices are just a testbed for this in some sense.

Finally, 4G devices are about $150 cheaper compared to a 5G device that sports similar hardware, run cooler, and can stay away from the charger for longer since they go easier on the battery. The only downside of buying a 4G device in 2020 is that it will depreciate a lot during the next couple of years, but if you get yourself an inexpensive model, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Bill Toulas

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