The Pros and Cons of Buying a 5G Phone in 2021

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) allocated 5G spectrum to major telecoms in late 2020 with main cities already covered by this new high-speed service. As expansion continues and more phone brands launch 5G-enabled handsets, 5G is expected to become the new standard for smartphones. 

But should you jump on the 5G bandwagon? Here’s how to decide.

What is 5G technology?

Technology, 5G, Aerial, Abstract Background

As the name suggests, 5G refers to the 5th generation mobile network and the latest global wireless standard for mobile data speeds. The main advantages of 5G over previous generations include lower latency and faster speeds. These benefits are most pronounced on a smartphone when retrieving data from the cloud or internet. 5G can retrieve files with little delay and makes working from multiple devices more seamless and fluid.

Compared to its predecessors, 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks, 5G is incredibly fast, offering up to 1Gbps in download speeds. Although the technology is still in its infancy, maximum 5G speeds can outpace those currently being offered by the nbn™.

Some of the newer smartphones in today’s market have high-resolution displays built for HD videos and mobile games, and 5G delivers the speed needed for mobile users to take full advantage of those stunning screens.

Should you buy a 5G phone now?

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Some consumers are opting to wait for 5G to be rolled out across more Australian cities, or at least through most of the major cities. It might be worth holding off on an upgrade since a 4G phone is still quite capable of delivering decent speeds. It might also be worth waiting for 5G phones to become more affordable, and for more 5G phones to be released so that you have options beyond Apple and Samsung. 

If you decide to buy a 5G phone, you’ll still be able to use it on your mobile operator’s current 4G and 3G networks even if you’re area is not yet covered by 5G.

In any case, there are some factors worth taking into consideration when deciding to buy a 5G phone:

  • 5G network coverage in your area – About half of the population already has access to Telstra 5G. That number is expected to grow to 75% by June 2021(mobilecorp.com.au). However, 5G is currently limited to cities and major regional centres, so if you work or live outside of these areas, you may not have reliable 5G access just yet. 

Even within a capital city or regional centre, however, 5G coverage may still be patchy since 5G towers can only transmit signals for about 200 to 500 metres. Depending on where you live, work, or travel, 5G connectivity could be faster or slower than what you’re currently getting on 4G. So before splurging on a new handset with 5G capabilities, it’s important to check whether your home or work  address has 5G access. 

  • Price considerations – Handset components like the superior and new generation micro-processing chips needed to process 5G speeds come at a steep cost. A high-end 5G smartphone like the latest one from iPhone or Samsung can cost around $1,800. If you believe that the technology is worth your money, you can be one of the first Aussies to own a 5G smartphone. But if price is a concern, it’s worth waiting for prices to go down, and for more brands to come out with budget to mid-range 5G smartphones. 
  •  How long you plan to hold on to your new phone – 5G network is still in its infancy, and with limited coverage throughout Australia, you’ll need to decide if this is the best time to invest in a 5G-compatible handset. The answer partly depends on how quickly or how often you upgrade your device. If you upgrade every two to three years, will buying a 5G smartphone now allow you to take full advantage of 5G connectivity as it develops, or is it worth waiting until 5G offers more tangible and robust benefits?

Follow Mobicity for updates on 5G smartphones and other news on the mobile industry. 

Clarence James

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