With local telcos well on the way to rolling out 5G networks, many of us will be wondering what to do with our next smartphone or connected tablet/laptop purchase. Should we follow out usual upgrade cycle, whatever that is for you, or wait until 5G capable devices are available? Here are some rough time frames to consider.
With Telstra and Optus testing out their 5G networks with pre-production devices and plans by Telstra to have 500 5G-capable sites by the time we ring in the new year, those of us thirsting for faster communications will soon start to see our desire fulfilled. But past experience suggests rushing out to buy a new 5G-ready device might not be the best idea.
For a start, new 5G devices will be priced at a premium and the network they’ll need for maximum performance won’t be ready all in one go. It will take the carriers some time to get the network to a point where you can enjoy those speeds across the same footprint you have with 4G today.
If the only reason you’re upgrading a smartphone or other connected device is for faster cellular comms, then the main sticking point won’t be the hardware in your hand – it will be the availability of the fast network.
We seem to have settled into a cycle with the announcement and release of new smartphones. Samsung launches its new flagship devices in March, during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Apple releases their new iPhones in September and Google pushes new Pixel devices a few weeks later.
It’s hard to be definitive now, but I’d expect all of next year’s flagship phones to support 5G. But with Samsung coming early in the year, I’d wait until later in 2019 rather than upgrading straight away unless you needed a new phone for some other reason.
By the latter part of next year, the carriers should be well on the way to deploying 5G widely. I’d expect major city centres to have a reasonable level of 5G coverage by then. So, if faster comms are important to you I’d wait before spending your money.
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