Next-generation Internet connectivity has been available on smartphones since 2019, but 2020 was the year technology began to shine, with most state-of-the-art devices you can buy this year with the new technology and multiple networks launching coverage worldwide.
Samsung’s entire Galaxy S20 series included 5G-ready handsets, OnePlus brought the feature to its top phones, a number of other Android manufacturers debuted 5G-ready devices, and every single member of the iPhone 12 family is built with 5G in mind. .
This is impressive considering that this time last year only had a slim selection of 5G phones on the market, with choices like a specific Samsung Galaxy S1
It’s great that manufacturers are embracing the technology, and there are now even cheap 5G alternatives to big phones like the Google Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 mini. For example, the Realme X50 5G costs just £ 300 in the UK, making it one of the cheapest ways to get 5G.
One big rumor suggests that 5G phones will continue to be cheaper in 2021. It makes sense as the technology becomes more common, and there are rumors that Samsung will introduce a handset called Galaxy A22 5G which costs only 200,000 Korean won (approx. £ 135 , AU $ 240).
But while 5G technology is now much more widespread and cheaper to access, it’s still not a big enough sole reason to upgrade your phone.
If you are looking for a new handset and want it to be future-proof, choose at least a 5G-ready phone. That’s the smart thing to do. We recommend lightweight 5G handsets, in fact a good number of the devices in our best smartphone ranking are already 5G ready, but do not choose one of these just because it has 5G technology embedded.
When 5G signal is available and you have a compatible device, you can reach some phenomenal speeds. But there are many hoops to jump through to get there, and even by the end of 2020 it is still not ubiquitous.
You have to live in a 5G-ready area, have the right phone, pay extra for a 5G connection from your provider (this is not always the case, but many charge extra) and more.
It is now becoming a reality
In South London, for example, we have seen 5G coverage on a number of UK networks increase incredibly fast by 2020. It is still not available everywhere in this specific area, but we often get the faster speeds when we are on tour, and it is usually useful when streaming music or sending messages.
But it is not available everywhere, and if you do not live in such a metropolitan area, you may have to wait a while for it to roll out where you are. We expect the technology to expand much further in 2021, but there is no guarantee that you will see it where you live then either.
Then there is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has meant that we use far less use of mobile networks, as we stay at home on our Wi-Fi connections more. If your house is covered by 5G, you may experience higher speeds than Wi-Fi, but that is rare unless you live in the center of a city.
If you need to upgrade your phone, the choice of handsets in 2020 has made it easier to be ready for 5G to become more widespread in the coming years. You can upgrade to an iPhone 12 or any number of Android phones and know that you will not be left behind in a few years when 5G is more common.
Our advice is still that you should not upgrade specifically for 5G. Do not upgrade your phone for 5G only, as you might as well wait for it to become more common and more accessible.