Are 5G smartphones Worth Buying?


5G smartphones are in the Indian market for more than a year, and till now, there is no 5G network coverage in India. The first few 5G smartphones were launched back in February 2020 and, those were the flagship smartphones powered by the Snapdragon 865. So, the question arises, are 5G smartphones worth buying? The answer to the question is not as simple as the question is. Certainly, few factors can answer your question.

Availability of the 5G in India

In India, many smartphone companies have already introduced 5G smartphones under various price brackets. But, due to the lack of 5G network availability, it is more like a marketing gimmick rather than a feature. The reason behind the unavailability of the 5G network is the allotment of the 5G bands in India. The 5G bands will be allotted to the cellular carriers after the auctioning of those bands. The auction of the 5G bands will be governed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). According to a Parliamentary standing committee report, the 5G spectrum auction is expected to happen in the coming few months and the 5G will be commercially available by late 2021 or early 2022.

Also, it has to be noted that if 5G commercially launched in early 2022 then, it might take another six to ten months for proper functioning and expansion of the 5G network. However, big telecom players like Airtel and Jio made their separate statements on 5G. In Reliance’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), Mukesh Ambani says that their company has developed a complete fifth-generation wireless network solution from scratch. Also, Airtel has already tested 5G in their Hyderabad tech lab.

Compatibility with different 5G bands

Many tech reviewers often use the word futureproof while mentioning any 5G smartphone. The word ‘futureproof’ means the 5G smartphones are ready for the future 5G network rollover. But, it isn’t always true for every 5G mobile. The ability of any 5G mobile to receive a 5G network is determined by the supported bands of that particular frequency. There are a total of 3 frequency ranges that are required for the 5G network, if any smartphone supports all the 3 frequency ranges then, that the particular smartphone is futureproofed.

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The 3 frequency spectrum for the 5G network is the low Band spectrum that is the sub 1GHz spectrum, the Mid-Band spectrum that is between 1GHz to 6GHz, and finally, the High-Band spectrum that is mmWave. According to some reports, TRAI is planning to auction only the Mid-Band spectrum but, the Indian telecom operators are requesting TRAI to consider the auctioning of the mmWave bands.

OnePlus 9 Pro with Mid-band spectrum support
iPhone 12 with supporting all spectrum band
Samsung S21 Ultra with low and mid-range spectrum

In the Indian smartphone market, there are many 5G smartphones, from flagships to mid-range smartphones. These smartphones claimed to be the 5G smartphones but, the truth lies under the hood. Some smartphones support a total of 13 5G bands like the iPhone 12 series, and some smartphones like the OnePlus 9 series that support only 2 mid-band spectrum. Samsung flagships support low-band and mid-band spectrum. Also, some mid-range like the Realme X7 series support a mixture of low-band and mid-band spectrum. To know more about 5G bands refer to Wikipedia.

Longevity of the 5G smartphones

However, the answer to the question “Are 5G Smartphones Worth Buying” is quite controversial. It is to note that many mid-range smartphones tend to perform well for the two to three years of their purchase. The SoC in the mid-range smartphones became slow even for the day-to-day task after a duration of over 2-3 years. However, flagships tend to perform way better than any mid-range smartphones. Due to the powerful SoC of any flagship, the smartphone will perform well for at least a period of 3-4 years. Also, it is to note that flagships like the OnePlus 9 series lack the basic 5G features.

To summarise the answer to the question “Are 5G Smartphones Worth Buying”, we recommend you to choose your 5G device wisely. If you choose a smartphone that lacks particular 5G bands, which may affect the user experience during the rollover of the 5G network. But it is better not to rush for a 5G smartphone without the availability of the 5G network.

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