The introduction of 5G networks is still in progress, so availability will vary from region to region. 5G occupies several different bandwidths and offers different speeds and ranges. Hence, it is important to check which ones are available before making any buying decisions based on the potential for faster internet. mmWave 5G is the fastest but is only found in a few areas at the moment. Carriers prefer urban areas due to population density and greater need for high bandwidth. Sub-6 is more common, but only slightly faster than LTE. Again, comparison speeds vary across the country, so some local research is required to gather solid information.
Balancing speed, coverage, and call quality with battery life can be challenging. Apple’s new Smart Data mode uses LTE when 5G speed is not required, but can instantly switch to 5G on any of the many supported bands. Apple decided to use LTE to maximize battery life when the extreme speeds of 5G are not needed. When browsing the news or checking the weather, stock reports, or any activity that requires mostly text and images, LTE is fast enough and using 5G wouldn’t make a noticeable difference. In this case, the iPhone 12 uses LTE. For streaming 4K resolution movies, downloading large files, and playing graphically intense games, 5G makes a huge difference and is used. How well this feature works is of course crucial to the experience. If Apple’s algorithms do not detect the need for speed quickly enough, the function will fail and the user will suffer. As with many automated systems, it would have been more ideal to give the user the option to manually choose whether to enable the feature.
Apples 5G Design & Future 5G Tech
Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup includes four models, each of which supports both 5G types. Apple has managed to reduce the size and weight of the iPhone without reducing battery life, despite the additional power consumption that results from using 5G data. Apple has been slow to bring the latest type of cellular to market, but it can be worth the wait. This depends entirely on the accuracy of the data load predictions. An alternative solution would have been to simply add larger batteries to the iPhone 12.
In the future, 5G should actually use less power than LTE. However, during these early stages, the modem can step up to connect to a more distant 5G signal, and the technology may be less sophisticated than future versions. In theory, 5G should be more energy efficient, it just isn’t that way yet. Recognizing this, Apple has found a way to take advantage of all the speed of current 5G networks without affecting the iPhone 12’s battery life.
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About the author
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Alan is a tech writer based in Nova Scotia, Canada. A tech enthusiast since he was a teenager, Alan keeps up with what’s new and what’s next. With over 30 years of experience in computer, video, and photo equipment, you can expect useful tips and insights into his writing. Alan has a degree in programming, having focused on design, editing and animation for many years. Managing the logistics and e-commerce operations for a mobile accessories company has taken a long time in recent years. Alan is a true jack of all trades in this ever-changing, computer-enriched world. In order to remain flexible in thinking and in his body, he practices yoga, light cardio and a whole food diet based on minimally processed plants.
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