Apple’s recent announcement about its newest lines of smartphones had all the makings of a typical Apple unveiling: the hype, the buildup, the mystique — and the prohibitive price tag.
iPhone 12 features an edge-to-edge screen, a sleek new look and innovative features that will bring the smartphone’s functionality to another level. The most prominent upgrade for the new line of iPhones — and the one Apple is pumping most — is that the iPhone 12 supports 5G networks. Many consumers are jumping at the chance of upgrading their browser speed and assume that 5G will be the default network of the future. While this may be true several years down the line, it’s still a bit too early to embrace an all-5G world.
If you’re only buying an iPhone 12 for the 5G compatibility, here’s why you may want to hold off on that purchase:
5G is currently not available in most areas
The long-term plan is for 5G towers to be built all across the country. This means that faster downloads, less delays and lightning-speed browsing is in our future. And we’re talking dizzyingly fast — Verizon claims its ultra-wideband network clocks peak downloads of 4 gigabits per second! That’s between 10 and 100 times faster than a typical 4G connection. In practical terms, as CNN reports, this can potentially translate into the ability to download a two-hour movie in fewer than 10 seconds, as opposed to seven minutes with 4G. Or, as Apple put it, it’s “Hi, Speed.”
Right now, though, for private consumers looking for high-speed networks on their smartphones, the optics are sketchy. According to OpenSignal, in June, T-Mobile users who’ve already had the option to use the high-speed bandwidth were only able to connect to a 5G network 22.5% of the time, which was more than twice what AT&T users reported (10.3%). Verizon users shared even more dismal statistics, with users connecting to 5G networks just 0.4% of the time. In other words, four of every five calls made using the best provider of 5G cannot even use 5G!
If you pay for an iPhone 12 because you’re looking for an upgrade in speed, you may just be wasting your money.
Plans will still have data caps
Many consumers mistakenly believe a higher-speed connection means more data. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Even plans that offer unlimited data aren’t really unlimited. Instead, there are no overage charges and data will slow down considerably once it hits a cap. A faster connection, in this case, means you’ll likely blow through your data quicker.
General uses for 5G are unrelated to smartphones
Most of the highlights of 5G have nothing to do with your personal phone.
5G is reportedly less expensive for carriers to operate and maintain. Unfortunately, this bonus has no effect on private consumers at all. Don’t expect your bill to be lowered because your carrier is saving money on costs.
5G is also being touted for these current and future uses: driverless automobiles, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), cloud computing, advanced IoT (Internet of Things), and health care. Most of these functions have very little to do with the average smartphone user.
5G is not a perfect technology
Controversies surrounding 5G abound, from the practical, to the conservational and beyond.
Primarily, 5G towers, while smaller than their 4G counterparts, need to be installed relatively close to each other without any large obstacles in the way. 5G also needs many more towers than 4G. All of these towers in close range can potentially interfere with weather satellites, which in turn, can adversely affect weather forecasting, aviation and naval defense operations. Also, as the Wall Street Journal reports, many people across the country aren’t happy about these armies of towers springing up around them.
In an attempt to show it’s on the right side of environmental issues, Apple has announced that iPhone 12s will not come with a pair of headphones or a charging brick. According to the tech giant, there are already 700 million corded white EarPods in the world and 2 billion Apple power adapters. The obvious downside here is that many customers will now need to purchase a pair of headphones and a charging brick after paying for their new phones — to the tune of $38.
If you plan on purchasing an iPhone 12
If you’re in the market for a new iPhone despite the drawbacks of 5G technology, here are some of the better features you can expect from an iPhone 12:
- Night camera improvements. The pricier iPhone 12 pro models have been fitted with a telephoto lens on the back and a lidar sensor, both of which improve depth measurement and focus, especially when in the dark.
- Increased durability. The iPhone 12 has been fitted with a Ceramic Shield, a new layer of protection which Apple claims is four times as crack-resistant as its older versions.
- Immersive display. iPhone 12 models feature all-screen Super Retina XDR displays with superior color accuracy. Apple claims its newer model phones offer an immersive viewing experience with nearly twice the peak brightness of iPhone 11s.
There are four options for iPhone 12s, each with its own price point:
- iPhone 12, $800 – 6.1-inch screen with two cameras on the back.
- iPhone 12 mini, $700 – 5.4-inch screen with two cameras on the back.
- iPhone 12 Pro, $1,000 – 6.1-inch screen with extra camera features.
- iPhone 12 Pro Max, $1,100 – 6.7-inch screen with extra camera features.
Apple’s latest products may be riding on the wave of the future, but be sure to do your research carefully before blowing big bucks on a feature you may not be able to use for another few years.
Your Turn: What do you think about the iPhone 12? Tell us about it in the comments.