(Reuters) – 5G will finally have its first plan in the US with the expected debut of Apple Inc.’s next iPhone on Tuesday. But the incredible speeds promised won’t materialize for most people.
The device, dubbed the iPhone 1
Using the next iPhone or any 5G-enabled device on today’s network, however, will be “like having a Ferrari … but using it in your local village and you can’t drive up to 200mph simply because the roads can’t. to maintain those speeds, ”explained Boris Metodiev, associate director of the research firm Strategy Analytics.
Apple, which is expected to unveil the new phone at a virtual event on Tuesday, will have to walk a tightrope among enticing consumers to upgrade their phones without promising too much what 5G can do today.
Current US 5G networks mainly use low-band wireless spectrum, or airspace, which is slower than the high-band spectrum, but more reliable over longer distances. It will likely take years before the huge speed boost promised by telecom operators will make augmented reality and real-time cloud gaming seamless.
Several US telecom operators have deployed networks based on lower spectrum bands, with speeds slightly faster than 4G. A significantly faster variant of “mid-range” 5G is also being rolled out, but is unlikely to reach three-quarters of Americans by 2025, according to longtime Apple analyst Gene Munster of venture capital firm Loup Ventures. .
The higher speeds touted by carriers are a type of 5G called the millimeter Wave, or mmWave, which works over shorter distances. Verizon Communications Inc has the largest mmWave network today, available only in limited areas.
Although Verizon 5G users could connect nearly 10 times faster than Sprint and T-Mobile, actual average speeds were much lower, according to the June research firm OpenSignal’s mobile signal experience report.
On average, AT&T Inc and Verizon customers with 5G phones have seen only a small increase over 4G speeds, according to the same study.
In South Korea and China, faster 5G networks are more pervasive. But Apple will compete with local brands including Samsung in South Korea, which is already on its second line of 5G phones, and China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. [HWT.UL], sales of which increased after the telecom giant was banned in the United States.
The other big disappointment is that applications that use higher speeds to deliver something new have yet to be created. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem in this part of the tech cycle, executives said, noting that interest in 4G has been fueled by mobile apps from Facebook Inc and YouTube from Alphabet Inc.
“The applications that will amaze us, that will benefit from the network, will only be developed when the network and devices are available,” said Morgan Kurk, chief technology officer at CommScope, a telecommunications equipment manufacturer.
The most motivated US consumers to buy a 5G phone would be those who need a new smartphone right now and are looking to protect their investments.
“If you’re buying a phone that you’ll have for three years, you’ll want to make sure it will support the latest networks,” said Geoff Blaber, vice president of research for CCS Insight.
Just know what to expect, Blaber added. “There will be relatively little you can do on a 5G iPhone that you can’t do on an iPhone 4G today.”
Reportage by Kenneth Li in New York and Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Editing by Richard Chang