At 1 a.m. Beijing time on Wednesday, Apple will release the long-awaited new generation of iPhone 12, one of its biggest selling points being support for 5G technology, but for most people, it’s not available at all. At the launch, the “5G” will be a central topic and one of the main selling points of the iPhone 12. Compared with current 4G LTE technology, 5G is theoretically equivalent to 10 to 20 times the speed of 4G.
However, Boris Metodiev, deputy director of Research firm Strategy Analytics, said: “On the current network, using an iPhone 12 or any 5G-enabled device is like owning a Ferrari, but you can only use it in a local village and not at 200 miles per hour because the road can’t support that speed. “
To that end, analysts say, Apple will have to balance the launch of the iPhone 12 in the early hours of Wednesday morning: attracting consumers and not over-boasting about the high-speed experience of 5G.
Currently, most 5G networks in the United States use low-frequency wireless spectrum (i.e. airspace), which is slower than high-frequency spectrum, but more reliable over long distances. It could take years to achieve the speed promised by mobile phone operators.
Although several U.S. carriers have deployed lower-band 5G networks, the speed is only slightly higher than 4G. In the first half of this year, RootMetrics, a unit of research firm IHS Markit, tested 5G networks in 125 U.S. regions. The test found that the 5G network speeds of AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint were only slightly faster than the 4G LTE.
Although both AT&T and T-Mobile claim that their 5G networks already cover “the United States,” that means they can reach 200 million people in the United States. But in fact, their 5G network coverage is still sporadic, and data speeds are not always fast.
Gene Munster, an analyst at Loup Ventures, a venture capital firm, said: “A faster variant of the “mid-frequency” 5G is being rolled out, but it is unlikely to reach three-and-a-half Americans by 2025.
Verizon’s 5G network, which uses millimeter-wave technology, is much faster, but can only be used in parts of 36 cities. Also, the signal deteriorates rapidly due to frequency.
OpenSignal, a research firm, reported in June that while Verizon’s 5G users are connecting at nearly 10 times faster speeds than Sprint and T-Mobile, the actual average speed is much lower.
By contrast, faster 5G networks are more popular in China and South Korea, but Apple will compete with local brands, including Samsung and Huawei.
Another disappointment is that applications that offer new features at higher speeds (5G) have not yet been developed. Industry executives say it is a “chicken and egg” issue at this stage. It should be noted that in the original 4G era, it was Facebook’s mobile app and Alphabet’s YouTube that drove the growth in interest.
Morgan Kurk, chief technology officer at CommScope, a telecoms equipment maker, said: “Applications that dazzle us and really take advantage of the network will only be developed when the network and devices are truly available. “
Analysts say the U.S. consumers most motivated to buy 5G phones will be those who really need a new smartphone and those who want to protect their investments.
“If you’re buying a phone that you want to use for three years, you want it to support 5G,” said Geoff Blaber, vice president of CCS Insight, a research firm. “What’s certain is that there’s not much you can do on a 5G iPhone, but not a lot on a 4G iPhone, ” Braber said. “