(Reuters) – 5G will finally get its close-up in the US with the expected debut of Apple Inc’s next iPhone on Tuesday. But the promising blazing speeds will not be realized for most people.
The device, called the iPhone 1
However, using the next iPhone or any 5G-enabled device on today’s network will be “like having a Ferrari … but using it in your local village and not being able to drive up to 200 miles per hour simply because the roads cannot maintain these speeds, ”explained Boris Metodiev, assistant director of the research firm Strategy Analytics.
Apple, which is expected to unveil the new phone during a virtual event on Tuesday, will have to walk a tightrope between enticing users to upgrade their phones, while not promising much of what 5G can do today.
Current 5G networks in the United States use mostly low-bandwidth wireless spectrum or airspace, which is slower than the high-frequency spectrum but more reliable over longer distances. It will probably take years before the massive promise to increase the speed of telephone operators makes augmented reality and real-time cloud games seamless.
Several US telecommunications operators have implemented networks based on lower-spectrum bands at slightly higher speeds than 4G. A noticeably faster version of the “mid-band” 5G is also available, but is unlikely to reach three-quarters of Americans by 2025, according to longtime Apple analyst Gene Gene Munster of venture capitalist firm Loup Ventures.
The fastest speeds advertised by carriers are the 5G type, called millimeter wave or mmWave, which operate over shorter distances. Verizon Communications Inc has the largest current mmWave network, available only in limited areas.
Although Verizon 5G users could connect almost 10 times faster than Sprint and T-Mobile, the actual average speeds are far lower, according to a report from a mobile signal from research firm OpenSignal in June.
On average, customers of AT&T Inc and Verizon with 5G phones saw only a small increase in 4G speed, according to the same study.
In South Korea and China, faster 5G networks are more widespread. But Apple will compete with local brands, including Samsung in South Korea, which already has its second line of 5G phones, and China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], whose sales increased after the ban of the telecommunications giant in the United States.
The other big disappointment is that applications that use higher speeds to deliver something new have yet to be created. In this part of the technology cycle, this is a problem with chicken and eggs, executives said, noting that interest in 4G is fueled by Facebook Inc.’s mobile apps and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube.
“The applications that we will be stunned by that will really benefit the network will not be developed until the network and devices are available,” said Morgan Kurk, chief technology officer of CommScope, a telecommunications equipment maker.
Consumers in the United States who are most motivated to buy a 5G phone would be those who need a new smartphone right now and are looking to protect their investment.
“If you’re buying a phone that you’ll have for three years, you’ll want to make sure it supports the latest networks,” said Jeff Blaber, vice president of research at CCS Insight.
Just know what to expect, Blaber added. “There will be relatively little you can do on a 5G iPhone that you can’t do on a 4G iPhone today.”
Report by Kenneth Lee in New York and Supanta Mukherjee in Stockholm; Edited by Richard Chang