Home / NewTech / The iPhone 11 is missing 5G. Why does it not matter

The iPhone 11 is missing 5G. Why does it not matter


The 4G speed of iPhone 11 channels this year.

James Martin / CNET

You will not see 5G on the iPhone 11, 11 Pro or an Apple iPhone until 2020. This is because Apple and Qualcomm, who until recently were in an exciting legal battle, kissed and invented what makes a 5G iPhone possible – albeit a bit late. Other manufacturers of Android phones, from Samsung to the lesser-known OnePlus, have attached their wagons to 5G data speeds (Verizon has even accelerated its first network launch to become the world's first consumer service available). For most buyers, however, this makes little difference.

5G describes the next-generation data network that mobile operators and handset manufacturers are already beginning to take advantage of. This technology promises to increase the phone's speed by 10 to 100 times today's 4G speed, so you can download and upload large volumes of content in a fraction of the time. (The use also goes beyond the phone.)

One day, 5G will be the new standard for data speeds, but at present growth is slow and coverage is sporadic and limited. Samsung said it had already sold 2 million 5G phones, while roadblocks blocked the path between premature adoption and mass use.


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So, 5G, when it did not show up on Apple's big revelation on Tuesday, was not that big a deal. That's why Apple's delay on 5G can not drastically affect the iPhone's reputation.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Apple fans will buy the iPhone anyway.

iPhone sales could stall without 5G features, predicts IDC, but if Apple has proved one over the years, then it is that the most steadfast fans remain undeterred (some, however, seem to switch).

Although sales to the industry are slowing, Apple has kept the iPhone's cult secret alive, and people who have been waiting three to four years for the upgrade are unlikely to wait.

(This is how the iPhone 11 Pro compares to a grade 10.)

5G is not everywhere you want it yet

We tested 5G networks around the world, from London to Sydney LA. Even in the best of circumstances, faster 5G speeds worked within a neighborhood, or perhaps the city center. In the worst case, we saw incredibly high speeds at each intersection and only outdoors, with 5G often falling back to 4G.

5G carrier networks are in the works and are being improved daily by mobile operators. But if you can not reliably reach ultra-fast speeds wherever you are, 5G has little meaning when it comes to providing the best speeds for your 4G neighbor.

SK Telecom in our tests in downtown Seoul.

Robert Rodriguez / CNET

You do not have to pay a 5G premium for your bill.

It's not just the parts that make 5G phones expensive. Your monthly 5G data plan is also expected to cost you.

Verizon has temporarily waived the initial $ 10 monthly allowance, and it is hoped that at least some networks around the world will package 5G prices into one package. Yes, as much as we want 5G to be free – or at least included in the price of the phone – you should at least expect to pay for an unlimited data plan. So, even if you spend a small fortune on this iPhone 11 Pro Max with 512 gigabytes of storage, at least you will not pay that monthly 5G fee.

(How to choose the best US 5G carrier.)

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The Samsung A90 5G is one of four 5G models. Mobile phones for Apple's archrival.

Chris Monroe / CNET

5G network technology is a jumble

The way that smartphones use 5G networks – at least at an early stage – is confused.

Phones need a 5G-enabled chip and 5G modem to connect to the network (they are currently disconnected, and this takes up space). And every phone model only works with the tapes of a particular network, so you can not get your 5G phone from one operator to another.

Soon, however, come new chips that make the parts into a smaller package, 5G phones thinner and cheaper. And multimodal modems mean that a single phone may be able to address networks.

If Apple waits longer for the technology to mature, it bypasses this early tangle of which phone works and when, where. This is just the latest example of how the company has come of age with a highly polished technology developed by its Android rivals.

Hey, you have a better battery life instead. In the phones we've tested, the fastest 5G technology (Millimeter Wave) can also chew on your phone's battery, especially in hot weather.

Longer battery life is a theme for this year's iPhone 11. The entry-level model is designed to last up to an hour longer than the previous year's iPhone XR. The runtimes of the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max are up to four or five hours longer than those of the iPhone XS or XS Max.

When the first 5G iPhone hits the market, the choice may not be that easy.

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