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Apple's iPhone 12 has 5G – what’s it and is it well worth the improve?

Apple has unveiled its latest iPhones. As expected by industry watchers, they are the first iPhones to feature 5G network connectivity.

The cheapest iPhone 12 is the 5.4-inch iPhone mini, which will start at $ 699. The 6.1-inch version has a starting price of $ 799. Both phones have two cameras. The company also announced two high-end Pro models, the iPhone 12 Pro starting at $ 999 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max starting at $ 1,099.

The products were presented at an event with the slogan "Hi, Speed".

Does that mean consumers should be willing to spend big on the 5G-enabled smartphones the tech giant is bringing out?

Wait, says an expert. The allure of connecting to the high-speed 5G network might be tempting, but consumers should consider even more before purchasing the latest iPhone or other smartphones that can connect to the network.

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"It really boils down to your patience, perspective, and desire for the latest cool thing."

– Bob O’Donnell, President and Chief Analyst of TECHnalysis Research

"It really boils down to your patience, your perspective and your desire for the latest cool thing," said Bob O’Donnell, president and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, a consulting and market research firm.

These are good questions consumers in any economy should be asking themselves – especially at a moment when the coronavirus pandemic has brought so much uncertainty to so many household budgets and may well continue to do so for a long time.

What does the 5G network bring you?

Experts note that faster speeds and a more responsive network. But at the moment that also depends on factors such as where you live and the cellular provider you are using.

This is because the 5G network is made up of three different bands: the low, medium and high bands, according to Dan Hays, director of corporate strategy for technology, media and telecommunications at PwC, the consulting and auditing firm.

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"For the end user, especially today, the 5G experience is determined more by the cellular network operator you subscribe to than by the 5G technology itself."

– Dan Hays, director of corporate strategy for technology, media and telecommunications at PwC

"For the end user, especially today, the 5G experience is determined more by the cellular network operator you subscribe to than the 5G technology itself," said Hays, who did not specifically comment on certain companies or brands.

Verizon
VZ,
-0.18%
, AT & T.
T,
-0.43%
and T-Mobile
TMUS,
-0.29%
have different ranges for each of the three bands or "flavors" as O’Donnell describes them.

According to O’Donnell, the highest band can offer services that are 50 times faster than the current 4G network. However, geographic coverage is currently very limited. The mid-band spectrum is between 10-15 times faster while the low-band is up to two times faster, said O & # 39; Donnell.

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In a year, “the exact same phone will have better service as the networks have improved. The question is how patient are you? "

– Bob O’Donnell, President and Chief Analyst of TECHnalysis Research

The capacity of the network is constantly evolving, he added. In a year, “the exact same phone will have better service as the networks have improved. The question is how patient are you? "

"Since the announcement that AT&T 5G was available nationwide, our teams have worked to deepen our 5G coverage, which will further improve the overall performance of our 5G service," said Shannon Settle, vice president, access engineering and technology at AT&T Communications.

(Verizon and T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Faster 5G speeds mean what exactly?

It will enable new apps and services, Hays said. He is waiting for the rise of more "cloud games" that allow realistic, high-definition gaming with other users. Hays is also looking for augmented reality apps. "Today it's difficult to implement augmented reality on a smartphone because the network has to be very responsive," he said.

Apple noted better gaming experiences on Tuesday, saying 5G connectivity would allow users to play games like League of Legends.

See also:Roblox, a popular video game platform for children, is planning an IPO

And these are just the technological developments that experts can foresee. "There will be things we can't even think about," said O & # 39; Donnell.

Is 5G worth it now?

If analysts' expectations turn out to be true, Apple
AAPL,
-1.40%
will introduce 5G-enabled phones – but these are not the first phones to operate on the 5G network. Samsung, Google
Aco,
+ 0.89%
and LG are some of the companies that already offer 5G-enabled smartphones.

The Samsung range of 5G-enabled smartphones starts with a Galaxy A51 5G, which, according to a spokesman, has a starting price of $ 399.99. The Google Pixel 4a with 5G capacity is priced at $ 499. The LG Velvet for T-Mobile customers is priced at $ 588.

Apple, Google
TogetL,
+ 0.78%
and LG did not respond to requests for comment.

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Many consumers typically upgrade to a new phone with their current phone after three years.

"We assume that 5G will become the standard feature of most new smartphones in the next one to two years," said Hays. However, most consumers typically hold onto their phones for three years before upgrading.

And even before the pandemic shifted people's financial priorities, many consumers seemed unwilling to embrace faster speeds, according to the PwC study.

In the company's own research on consumer attitudes in 2018 and 2019, more than two-thirds of cell phone users were unwilling to pay more for 5G-enabled phones, Hays said.

If a consumer needs to buy a new phone right now anyway, there is a stronger reason to opt for something that can connect to the 5G network, according to O’Donnell.

But if someone is already on a relatively new phone, it might make more sense to wait a bit while the networks expand. "You can argue either way," said O’Donnell.

Apple stock is up 63% since the start of the year. The Dow Jones industrial average
DJIA,
+ 0.39%
is up 0.45% and the S&P 500
SPX,
+ 0.01%
rose by 8.86% over the same period.

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