Live Apple iPhone Event Tracker: The 5G Smartphones
Many of us are eagerly anticipating Apple’s new iPhones on Tuesday because they are expected to include a major new feature: 5G, for the fifth-generation cellular network.
Phones with 5G capability have been positioned as far better than our current devices. That’s because carriers like AT&T and Verizon have hyped 5G as a life-changing technology capable of delivering data speeds so fast that you can download a feature-length movie in seconds.
But tamp down your expectations, at least for now. In the near term, the new cellular technology probably won’t be a big leap forward from its predecessor, 4G. Instead, in most cases, 5G will only be incrementally faster, if at all.
Here’s what you need to know:
The much-hyped, ultrafast variant of 5G is known as “millimeter wave.” But its reach is limited right now. This flavor of 5G lets carriers transmit data at incredibly fast speeds. The catch? Its signals travel shorter distances, covering a park in New York but not a broad swath of the city, for example. It also has trouble penetrating obstacles like walls. So for now, the carriers are focusing its deployment in large spaces like sports stadiums and outdoor amphitheaters.
That’s good news if you enjoy livestreaming concerts or games. But it’s unlikely we will be attending those types of events anytime soon in this pandemic.
And because of the technical limitations, we are unlikely to see this ultrafast 5G deployed nationwide anytime soon, meaning we won’t be getting its incredible speeds in the vast majority of places.
Our cellular networks are broadly shifting to a