Will I Have To Buy Anything New To Use 5G?

Man Holding Cell Phone Smiling

5G is the latest generation in wireless technology that will offer ultra-fast speeds with low latency and is worth all the hype. 5G promises to deliver speeds of up to 20 Gbps with a 1 millisecond latency- that’s about as instantaneous as you can get! This new breakthrough in wireless tech is expected to power the fourth industrial revolution. While 5G hasn’t blanketed the U.S. in coverage just yet, it’s going to require a lot of work to make that happen from the four major carriers: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile/Sprint and the newest wireless competitor to enter the market, DISH Network. 5G is available in some cities and if you’re lucky enough to be in a city with 5G, you may be able to utilize this brand-new technology before the rest of the country, but it comes with a catch. It is only available in very limited areas, so maybe just a few city blocks scattered across a downtown area. Before you go outside running to the nearest 5G hotspot, you’ll need to first get a 5G eligible device. One of the biggest questions surrounding 5G is “Will I have to upgrade my current device?” and the short answer is, yes you will need to upgrade to a 5G capable device to use the full potential that 5G will offer. 

In order to fully access the new 5G network (when it does come to your area) you will need to upgrade all of your current devices to 5G eligible devices that have 5G radios that connect to a 5G network. There isn’t a software update that upgrades your 4G phone, to be able to use a 5G network, new chips and antennas are necessary. There are currently just a few phones and devices that are 5G capable on the market. 

Current 5G devices in the United States:  

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G (Verizon and AT&T) 
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 5G (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile)
  • LG V50 ThinQ 5G (Sprint) 
  • OnePlus 7 Pro 5G (Sprint) 
  • Motorola Moto Z4, Z3 or Z2 Force (Verizon)
  • 5G Moto Mod (Verizon) 

Current 5G devices available elsewhere: 

  • Huawei Mate X and Mate 30 5G
  • ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G

*All devices are up-to-date as of October 2019. 

A big misconception in the market right now is if you’re an AT&T customer, you have 5G. That is unfortunately false and you’re not alone in thinking that. You have what’s called 5GE, or 5G Evolution. 5GE is just AT&T’s name for the latest iteration of LTE. (AT&T has been in a bit of hot water lately for this consumer confusion.) 

The need to upgrade doesn’t mean 5G is replacing 4G LTE, it’s just building upon that existing connection. It’s not going to make any 4G device you’re using obsolete, just like when 4G came out 3G didn’t go anywhere. You’ll likely find that your current device works even better than before, and you didn’t even have to buy a 5G capable phone to see an increase in performance. Like with any new technology, 5G and 5G devices need some time to mature in the market. There’s a reason why Apple hasn’t announced anything regarding 5G capable devices. 5G is an incredible wireless technology that is going to change the way we connect with the world, but there are some growing pains to fight through first. 

Unless you’re a techie who lives or works in an area that has 5G coverage, it’s best to wait before rushing to upgrade your devices to something with 5G capabilities. On the flipside, if you do want to use the full power of 5G you will need to upgrade, and there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.