Does your next phone really need 5G? How do you decide

5G It was as soon as synonymous with premium costs, nevertheless it has grow to be the norm in most new merchandise telephones Even those who value lower than $300 in some circumstances.

However you may be questioning if 5G is critical in a brand new cellphone. You may get an excellent deal on a file refurbished gadget Two years in the past it doesn’t assist 5G. You might need been wanting ahead to the iPhone 11, which is likely one of the least expensive telephones Apple presently sells at $500 however cannot connect with 5G.

For US consumers, the reply largely is determined by which provider you have got, how a lot you are prepared to spend, and the way lengthy you intend to maintain in your subsequent cellphone. Since 5G is out there in nearly each new cellphone at no extra value, there are some causes to not purchase a 5G-enabled cellphone.

Mix that with the truth that carriers construct information mid-range networks — which offer quicker speeds than lower-band 5G choices in addition to broader protection from quicker millimeter wave networks — and the argument for purchasing a stronger 5G cellphone.

Learn extra: Not all 5G is similar: we clarify totally different names and flavors

On the identical time, it is vital to keep in mind that 5G speeds and protection will fluctuate relying in your provider. And 4G telephones will proceed to work for years to come back.

“They are not going to show these 4G networks off any time quickly,” stated Avi Greengart, president and principal analyst for analysis and consulting agency Techsponential. “Your cellphone will die earlier than you must fear about it.”

Understanding 5G

Figuring out if you happen to want 5G in your subsequent cellphone begins with understanding the present state of 5G. All three main community suppliers within the US supply 5G, and there are three primary flavors you have to be conscious of.

There may be low-band 5G, which is extensively obtainable however provides speeds just like 4G LTE and millimeter wave 5G, the ultra-fast model that solely works in a brief vary. You probably will not discover the distinction between 4G and 5G while you’re on a community with low bandwidth. However millimeter wave networks are so uncommon that you just in all probability will not end up close to them regularly until you frequent crowded locations like stadiums, arenas or airports. Even then, protection is usually solely in particular areas.

The completely satisfied medium between these two networks is the 5G mid-band, which provides quicker speeds than 4G however can even cowl a lot bigger distances than millimeter wave. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Cell are all in varied phases of mid-range deployment, with T-Cell presently taking the lead. The provider stated in February that its Extremely Capability community, which consists largely of mid-band spectrum acquired from Dash, Reached 210 million folks by the tip of 2021. T-Cell expects to succeed in 300 million folks with its mid-range community, Extremely Capability 5G, by the tip of 2023.

Alternatively, Verizon To cowl 175 million folks with its ultrawide community, which makes use of millimeter wave and mid-band spectrum, in 2022. AT&T Plans to cowl 200 million folks its mid-band community by the tip of the yr.

Learn extra: Apple wants a 5G iPhone at an inexpensive value

T-Cell, Verizon, AT&T 5G

Quicker entry to 5G community



210 million folks



175 million folks



200 million folks


All of those applied sciences can work collectively to supply higher protection, velocity, and efficiency than 4G LTE.

“So we’re not simply speaking about cities, however loads of the nations that folks reside in are coated by T-Cell 5G,” Greengart stated. “So you will need to purchase a 5G cellphone for causes of protection and velocity.”

How a lot are you prepared to spend?


The iPhone 11 of 2019 is likely one of the least expensive iPhones from Apple, nevertheless it doesn’t assist 5G.

Angela Lang / CNET

The largest think about deciding whether or not you should purchase a 5G cellphone is how a lot you might be prepared to spend. In case you have lower than $200 to spend on a brand new gadget, it may be laborious to discover a helpful 5G cellphone.

In case your funds permits spending greater than $400, there are a lot of compelling 5G choices like $429 for iPhone SE And the Galaxy A53 5G 450 {dollars}. The Google Pixel 6A $450Not too long ago launched on July 28, it additionally helps 5G. This can be a important departure from the time Samsung Galaxy S10 5G It was launched practically three years in the past at a excessive value of $1,300.

Cheaper telephones could not assist all flavors of 5G, i.e. the quicker millimeter wave networks, however that should not come as a deal breaker for most individuals procuring immediately. With their benefits in velocity and vary, the three main networks have prioritized 5G mid-band deployment over the previous yr. So long as your new cellphone helps 5G mid-band, it is best to have the ability to join at greater speeds in additional locations.

You will need to take into account what’s most vital to you in regards to the cellphone and the way lengthy you intend to maintain it. In case you favor a bigger display screen, a extra fashionable design, twin cameras and plan to improve your cellphone once more in a few years, 4G helps The $500 iPhone 11 may be the most suitable choice From the $429 iPhone SE that helps 5G know-how.

However if you happen to’re searching for a cellphone that may provide help to for the subsequent three years or so, it is in all probability greatest to search for a 5G gadget. Most Android telephones within the $400-$500 vary have 5G and fashionable options like multi-lens cameras and enormous screens.

The scenario is totally different for Apple followers. The one possibility that helps 5G beneath $600 is the 2022 iPhone SE, which has Apple’s newest smartphone chip however lacks different necessities like a big display screen and a number of cameras. Might change this fall when it is iPhone 14 . rumored It’s launched and drops the Apple file iPhone 12 And the 12 mini items Worth accordingly.

Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst at Technalysis Analysis, says 5G is prone to really feel extra vital in early 2024. By then, carriers may have extra time to construct their very own mid-range networks.

“You may get quicker speeds,” O’Donnell stated. “Hopefully by then we’ll see some extra providers and apps that benefit from 5G.”

backside line

pile of phones

Sarah Teo / CNET

To find out if you happen to want 5G in your subsequent cellphone, take into account how a lot you are prepared to spend, how lengthy you intend to maintain your cellphone earlier than upgrading and the kind of protection your provider provides.

Investing in a brand new 5G cellphone is mostly the very best transfer if you happen to can afford it as a result of it ensures that your gadget will really feel quick and handy for years to come back. But when your funds is tight, or if the 5G telephones obtainable to you now simply do not fit your wants, you’ll be able to’t miss out on a lot by choosing 4G as a substitute.

“As a purely purposeful cellphone, you’ll be able to’t go incorrect with a great LTE cellphone,” O’Donnell stated.