The Early Adopter's Guide To 5G

Image: Getty Images

You were the first of your friends to migrate from a dumb phone to a smartphone. You were also first to join a 4G plan. You always get the new version of Android before anyone else and buy the latest handset on launch day. You are a tech pioneer - and now, your time has come again.

At long last, the wonderful world of 5G is open to consumers. But you will need to tread carefully. As the adage goes, here be dragons!

After years of hype, 5G is finally here. Kind of. Only Telstra has publicly launched its 5G network so far, and only in select parts of 10 cities across Australia. This will continue to grow across the coming weeks, months and years, but building a network takes time.

While 5G networks are still a bit of work in progress, there's already a range of 5G devices on the market. If you want a device that's ready to go when 5G arrives in your area, you’ve got options.

There are also benefits to being an early adopter. If you pick up one of these devices before Telstra refreshes its phone plans at the end of the month, you'll get free 5G access for the life of your contract.

After the plan refresh, Telstra 5G connectivity will only be free for all customers for 12 months. When these 12 months are over, 5G will cost extra. Unless you're on one of Telstra's two most expensive plans, you'll pay a $15 premium per month for 5G. We've got no idea how much these two plans will cost yet, but given Telstra's track record, you can be certain they won't be cheap.

So if you’re keen to get in early, here's a look at the 5G devices you can get your hands on right now.

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Image: Supplied

Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G was the first 5G smartphone to launch in Australia, and unsurprisingly the most expensive. 5G connectivity is the major difference between the Galaxy S10 5G and the S10 series devices, but there are a few other changes to be aware of.

The Galaxy S10 5G is the largest phone in the S10 family, with a massive 6.7-inch display. It has an extra camera lens on the back for 3D depth sensing, for a total of four. It has a larger 4,500mAh battery, and can charge at a faster rate. And lastly, storage isn't expandable, but you can get the S10 5G in a choice of 256GB or 512GB.

If you purchased a Galaxy S10+ on a Telstra plan earlier this year, you're currently able to trade it in for a Galaxy S10 5G provided it's in good working order. Your monthly bill won't change and doing so won't extend your contract. The only catch is you only have until June 18 to do so.

Here are Telstra's 256GB Galaxy S10 5G plans:

And here are Telstra's 512GB Galaxy S10 5G plans:

In both cases, the 160GB plan is the sweet spot. In addition to a whole lot of data, you get unlimited talk and text, unlimited international talk and text for 15 destinations, 2GB of roaming data, and “peace of mind” data to use if you go over your allowance.

OPPO Reno 5G

Image: Supplied

As you might expect from OPPO, the Reno 5G is one of the more affordable smartphones around. Retailing for $1,499 outright, it's still not what anyone would call cheap, but it can easily save you around $40 per month compared to other 5G smartphones if you're shopping for a plan.

On top of 5G connectivity, the OPPO Reno 5G has a triple rear-facing camera with 10x hybrid zoom and a rather unique notchless design. This involves a pop-up shark fin front-facing camera that slides up whenever you want to take a selfie.

Here are Telstra's Reno 5G plans:

If you want the Reno 5G on a plan, the best value option is Telstra's $109 per month plan. It includes 50GB of data, unlimited talk and text, unlimited international talk and text for 15 destinations, and slower speed “peace of mind” data for if you go over your full-speed data allowance.

And if you pick up your Reno 5G before July 7, you'll get a bonus pair of Bose SoundSport Free wire-free earbuds valued at $299.

LG V50 ThinQ

Image: Supplied

The LG V50 ThinQ is the most interesting 5G smartphone currently available in Australia. Or at least, the weirdest. 5G connectivity may be a defining feature, but the V50 comes with a rather unique second screen accessory.

The V50's secondary display almost makes it a poor-man's foldable smartphone. If you find the primary 6.4-inch display isn't quite enough screen for you, you can clip a secondary 6.2-inch display onto the V50 with a case-like accessory. Most of the time, this simply lets you run a different application on each screen, but it can also be used as a controller for some games.

While you need to pay for the second screen case in most markets, it's included in the box if you pick up the LG V50 on a Telstra plan. These are as follows:

If you're after the LG V50 ThinQ, the best value option is Telstra's $124 per month plan. This includes 20GB of data, and unlimited talk and text.

HTC 5G Hub

Image: Telstra

If you're just after a 5G modem, the HTC 5G Hub is currently your only option. The HTC 5G Hub is a portable hotspot based on a Snapdragon 855 processor and packs a 7,660mAh battery. It can support up to 20 simultaneous devices over Wi-Fi, and also has an Ethernet port for connecting wired devices.

There's more to the HTC 5G Hub than just 5G connectivity. Since it runs Android Pie, it's almost an entertainment device. There's a 5-inch 720p touchscreen, support for Android apps such as Netflix, and a USB Type-C port for connecting it to external displays.

Even if 5G coverage is currently quite limited, the HTC 5G Hub is also the fastest 4G hotspot you can get from Telstra.

Here are Telstra's plans for the HTC 5G Hub. They max out at 100GB per month, so a HTC 5G Hub is unlikely to replace your primary internet connection any time soon.

Where is 5G currently available?

Limited Telstra 5G coverage is currently live in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, on the Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Toowoomba. You can see Telstra's 5G rollout map here.


Alex Choros is Managing Editor at WhistleOut, Australia’s phone and internet comparison website.


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