back to article Yes, we have a 5G iPhone now. But that doesn't mean 5G has arrived

5G iPhones went on sale last Friday and a thousand social media pundits doubtless declared it meant the new network standard had capital-A Arrived and its role as catalyst of a "fourth industrial revolution" will now be realised. Bring on the self-driving cars, delivery drones and billions of connected things all running on …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He UK will get 5G (GCHQ) version.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No fan of “hypercompetitive” Qualcomm, I bought a new iPhone this time last year. I don't think I'm missing much — although 5G does seem to be giving the advertising industry, and hence media, a shot in the arm.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      I upgraded last year as well. I don't see any pressing need to go 5G, even if I lived in one of the big cities that actually has some 5G.

      I figure 5G will benefit me and my LTE only phone anywhere 5G is installed as all the people who have 5G capable phones will be using that, resulting in less busy LTE cells for the rest of us!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I had the same thought as things shifted from 3G to 4G, but there's a sting in the tail...

        As soon as a sufficient number of folks have shifted from 4G to 5G for you to notice much of a benefit, the networks will almost certainly begin to refarm the free'd-up 4G specturm into their 5G networks.

        1. Psmo

          Ah yes, somebody else noticed previously average 2G, then 3G performance drop once the next generation reached market penetration.

        2. DS999 Silver badge

          They won't refarm it

          5G and LTE are designed to co-exist in the same spectrum (look up DSS aka dynamic spectrum sharing) so there will be no reason for carriers to refarm spectrum. They will just enable 5G users to share it.

          Anyway, they won't consider even doing that until all the 2G/3G is gone.

  3. Naich

    Oh goody

    So with the coming of 5G, there is now no incentive to make the 4G that everyone uses any better. Users have to upgrade from the patchy old 4G system to the shiny new patchy 5G system. Why not just fucking fix 4G?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Oh goody

      I'd be happy if they even rolled out 3G here... Just ditched my Vodafone "up to 500mbps LTE" contract to go back to congstart "up to 50mbps LTE", because I actually get around 20 - 30mbps with them, whereas I get 0.001mbps with Vodafone at work and around 5mbps at home.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh goody

      As 5G generally uses new spectrum, deploying it will help fix 4G capacity problems. Coverage problems not so much, but in the UK there are other plans afoot to fix that :

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Oh goody

        >As 5G generally uses new spectrum, deploying it will help fix 4G capacity problems.

        No network has reported capacity problems across their networks, just in a few cells at certain times of day.

        However, if we go back to the launch of 3G, I suggest the only thing (potentially) fundamentally different between a 4G and a first generation 5G handset is in the radio section, with the 5G phone supporting the new "5G specific" frequency bands and all of the 4G bands.

        Obviously, like 3G, once the applications arrive - with 3G this was circa 5 years after launch, then the capacity will start to be used for real 5G use cases.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You are having a larf on this currently sunny Monday morning

    Bring on the self-driving cars, delivery drones and billions of connected things all running on their own slices of software-defined network providing unprecedented security and speed, is the rallying cry.

    A nice bit of El-Reg punditry there.

    Self Driving cars? which decade would that be?

    Delivery drones? Try that around where I live and the local neanderthals will see them as target practice.

    Billions of IOT things? Only if the ISP's get their finger out and enable IPv6 for one and all.

    As for security and speed?



    Lovely. I'd like to be alive to see a secure IOT network OOTB. As for speed? Who are you kidding eh? Our Vermin network has been as fast as a snail on depressants since lockdown. 5G won't make a happenth of difference for years as we only got decent 4G (on Three surprisingly) this time last year. EE and Voda are one bar at the best. 5G will need more basestations and that ain't gonna happen for years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You are having a larf on this currently sunny Monday morning

      Self Driving cars? which decade would that be?

      It seems that Mercedes are currently having to recall 12,799 mega expensive hyper barges because some idiot in engineering thought it was a good idea to wire a fancy look at me shiny logo to the same bit of wiring as the power steering, wipers and one headlight, so when your bit of bling borks you can't really control three tons of high speed metal.

      While the world's regulation system still allows the industry to take not even the slightest bit of interest in basic safety design principles what chance do we have of safe self driving cars.

      Self Driving cars? which decade would that be?

      I suppose the other answer will be, the decade after Linux takes over the desktop.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Self Driving cars? which decade would that be?

      I'm sorry to be explicit, but there's no other way to say it, so there goes: sarcasm.

  5. IGotOut Silver badge


    "AT&T’s 5G (NSA) speeds were 46Mbps, only slightly faster than its 4G LTE speed of 43 Mbps. Rival carrier T-Mobile’s 5G speeds were even worse at 25 Mbps"

    That's odd, maybe they could get some Chinese tech in, as they seem to be really good at rolling it out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      Gigabit speeds at the BTS need a very high-speed backhaul network connecting those BTS too....

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      Nothing to do with kit, everything to do with spectrum.

      AT&T had more mid band spectrum than T-Mobile at the time. T-Mobile's low band spectrum excels at distance and building penetration versus mid band which has higher speeds but worse coverage. For really high speeds you need high band spectrum but coverage distance is measured in feet, not miles, and building penetration is somewhere between problematic and nonexistent.

    3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      T-Mo's early 5G was a software upgrade to the newer ultra-long-range Band 71 transmitters. Instant 5G! The problem is that there are a LOT of people within range of of a Band 71 tower. The only way Band 71 can work at all is if it's a last resort channel. The 5G icon shows on the phone but everyone's still on LTE 2+4, with fallback to long-range LTE 12, with fallback to ultra-long-range n71. On the plus side, customers 100 miles into the middle of nowhere may see speed increases from 0.5 to 0.7 kbps.

      Midband 5G starts with replacing the Sprint gear so that's taking time. I imagine it takes time to properly dispose of equipment that's simultaneously electronics waste and cursed artifacts.

      Highband 5G will take a long time to be useful, if ever. The number of 5G phones supporting it seems to be declining.

    4. JetSetJim

      Re: Hmmm

      NSA mode is not limited by the LTE leg - Verizon (and others) can do 5Gbps over NSA - 4.2Gbps of it is 5G, and 800Mbps over LTE.

      Admittedly it's with a boat load of spectrum (800MHz of 5G + 40MHz of LTE), but still impressive. And for sure the backhaul has to be capable of it, too.

  6. Richard Jones 1

    Getting any G Might Feel an Improvement

    Mobile service are supposed to be, well mobile, are they not. Without wired service at home and Wi-Fi the mobile is about as useful as a stone with a flat battery. Yes 4G might be interesting, if it damned well worked, but 5G is a pipe dream, simply worth nothing at all. It costs a fortune just for handsets, but works as well as said stone with a flat or even a missing battery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Getting any G Might Feel an Improvement

      >It costs a fortune just for handsets

      Depends how you define a fortune. There are 5G handsets at ~£350 now.

  7. G R Goslin

    Oh, how I wish!

    Oh, how I wish we had even 3g around here. I only get 3g since Ihave one of my telco's femto cell units hooked into my router. And that is only effective until I reach my back door. When the signal dies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh, how I wish!

      I DO get 4G here, 20 miles south of Downing Street. I mean, honest, I have seen the 4G icon come up a few times, for a short while.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Oh, how I wish!

        Visiting family in the Middle of Nowhere, Saskatchewan, Canada a couple of years back my brother, a Sussex resident, remarked wryly that he was getting much better 4G service there than he did in England. (So I guess that things haven't changed much in the last couple of years.....)

        1. Happytodiscuss

          Re: Oh, how I wish!

          Good ol Sasktel.

          Saskatchewan is mineral and food rich and flat as a table top with only two curves in the main road transecting the province east to west (or west to east). They do their own thing and have had fiber backhaul in place waiting for the ROW to catch up for a while. As in Alberta there is lots of black fiber with access points planted according to some logic but at least follow the sectional lines when in the countryside. Waiting on 5G business case like the rest

          Efficiently run operation Saskatchewan.

  8. iron Silver badge

    4G is more than fast enough for Spotify and YouTube (or your streaming providers of choice) so I don't see the need for 5G handsets. Not to mention the problems even getting decent 3G or 4G speeds previous commentards have mentioned.

    Merc's 5G project sounds interesting. Having worked in industrial automation 15 years ago I can imagine lots of useful solutions that it would enable but cost is going to restrict it to flagship plants operated by the big boys. The chance of anything like that coming to the UK in the next 5 years is slim to none.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Merc's 5G project sounds interesting. Having worked in industrial automation 15 years ago I can imagine lots of useful solutions

      My experience of industrial automation was radio unfriendly production environments were - a shield cable gave much better and more reliable performance..

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      It's also odd given that boring mesh wifi could do the same. Unless I missed the killer point.

      It seems they went, "When it goes from AP1 to AP2 there is an issue, rather than, is the a way we can have lots of AP1s?

      Maybe they did, but clean hand over is possible.

  9. Lars Silver badge

    Well written article

    But, why would anybody buy an Apple phone when you can get something better for less also made in China.

    1. ThomH

      Re: Well written article

      Because, although you may believe yourself the font of all objectivity, different people have different definitions of 'better'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well written article

      No issue with the writing.

      However weaving the Gartner bullshit voodoo in to it without revealing that in the headline meant I broke my rule of not reading articles including stuff from the technology astrology fuckwits Gartner.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well written article

      I'm happy with my Android phone (which was made in China) but many people believe that Android is evil, will sell their personal details, suck out their brains and therefore should be nuked from orbit.

      They say that Apple is expensive but they don’t sell their personal details.

      Then, those same people go on Facebook!

  10. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Pfft, 5G is old news, AT&T is already one generation past that!

    I'm with AT&T and I have "5GE" already. It says so on the screen of my phone. It has one more letter, so it MUST be better than 5G.

    It is not like a Telco would be deceptive and create some sort of weird marketing term just to appear they had full 5G coverage, right? They are all honest companies that would never manipulate the marketplace by creating confusing nomenclature.

  11. Dasreg

    WAP, GPRS, etc

    Without the IOT 5G is just a faster connection. But nobody says they don't want a faster connection. Only if the cost is prohibitive, which is never the long run scenario. IOT security...SKYNET!

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Because I am not on an unlimited data plan on my phone I see no real advantage of being able to downloads at hundreds of Mbps that 5G can offer, as I am still limited by my mobile phone plan as to how much I can download per month, and even for streaming videos from youtube I don't have an issue with the speeds I get on 4G.

    If they can eventually start offering home broadband connections using a 5G modem which can offer good speeds for a comparative price to fixed line options, it is something I would consider 5G for as a replacement for my VDSL internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Home BB replacement

      That is the only realistic scenario I can foresee the current 5G deployment will be useful for. (again, assuming pricing is comparable toLandline and speeds are consistent)

      For mobiles and people on the move, 5G is a waste because covergae is so limited and patchy and NOT Continuous (so as to be meanigful) and the handover problems to 4G when on the move (driving, trains, walking - yes walking, cycling etc.

      The networks are only converting the current 4G hardware/antenae . No new towers, base stations and Antennae are being provisioned. Trump has helped them stay put (newtons law of motion- inertia).

      5G remains a marketing gimmick for the near term future.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Home BB replacement

        5G remains a marketing gimmick for the near term future. .... Anonymous Coward

        Hmmm .... If one considers, AC, the informative intel freely shared below in the posting, Stealth that be known by another Name, 5G heralds a long term future development for all manner and matter of gimmicky near term future marketing, although of course, many will not recognise that as such and thus it is possible that they will all too readily and loudly doubt and deny it.

        It is a common Earthly affliction akin to a debilitating infection resulting in a chronic disability to fully function admirably ..... and thus they are both fated and destined to server the old requirements of past masters rather than enjoy the novel fruits of future bounty.

  13. ThomH

    "I think a lot of people thought, 'Wow, 5G has launched. We're going to have autonomous cars and remote surgery from day one'"

    Really? I'd posit that precisely nobody thought that. Not in tech, not outside tech, not anywhere.

    Scrolling down Apple's sales pitch for the iPhone 12, 5G is item number six, trailing reduced bezels, tougher glass, the use of steel, the IP68 waterproofing and its availability in four colours. Which is all quintessential Apple, but suggests that even at the company that's all about sales pitches they think that most people don't really care about 5G at present.

  14. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Just wait till the marketing bastards get started though

    It's up to 10 times faster than existing 4G phones!

    "up to" meaning occasionally for a few seconds in the middle of the night. Or because they've started severely throttling 4G devices to "encourage" people to upgrade to 5G. By the time it actually does what they're claiming right now for a majority of users, they'll be wildly hyping the forthcoming miraculous 6G phones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just wait till the marketing bastards get started though

      Agreed. The marketing Bar Stewards will make you believe that their 5G products/handsets are better than Mama's milk, will make your morning cuppa and also wipe your bottom after a dump.

      The ground reality of 3G/4G is so dire, that 5G is sold as a panacea and cure all. By the time UK networks pull their collective fingers out, we might be suffering hideously about 7G from the same marketeers.

      Seriosuly, where are we headed?

  15. da39a3ee5e6b4b0d3255bfef95601890afd80709

    Still waiting to watch TV on my 3G network launched March 3rd, 2003

    ... as promised when 3G networks were launched on March 3rd 2003, spectrum sold, and operators hyped (H3G looking at you). I can't even listen to a streaming radio service for an entire 4 minute song going by train from Tunbridge Wells to London today. So all you operators and marketeers promising whatever it is that you are promising, I stopped listening a LONG time ago. I will adopt a networking tech 1-2 years after it arrives having pleased end users with useful services and reliable data. I am not prepared to be an out of pocket early adopter for you. Next.

  16. Lorribot

    What a load of .....rubbish.

    None of the use cases stated for 5G require exceptional bandwidth and could easily be provided by 4G at an infinitely cheaper cost or even 3G for some of them. As for "better connectivity, a guarantee of high-quality service" I find that extremely unlikely in the near future (next two years) as it will more likely be patchy, intermittent service and the usual planning issues with the need to increase the number of tower to support 5G's lower range and the functional ineptitude of teh networks to actually provide continuous service for any length of time, just look at the service maps on any of the network provider websites.

    It reminds me of an advert that Vodefone did around the start of 4G where a young couple on a bus in rural setting were watch a streamed TV program with a bored kid. It is still unrealistic in most rural areas to do this due to the patchy 4G coverage, such darkest Essex unless you have the ability to switch between different carriers.

    No one actually needs 5G other than the networks as it gives them leverage to sell us shine new phones and excessively expensive 5G contracts, until they realise no one is interested and it eventually becomes just normal, just like 3G and 4G before it.

  17. martinusher Silver badge

    The fundamental problem with 5G at this time.... that "No Huawei, No 5G". Its not that other companies can't produce the technology, its just that they're well behind so a lot of their offerings are really "5G in Name Only" interim products. The products are needed desperately to show relevance so they're not necessarily state of the art (for example, modem is not integrated with the processor -- external chip, extra board space, extra power consumption).

    I'm not in a hurry to upgrade. I will wait to see how the tech war unfolds. My guess, among other things, is that Apple's not going to be doing so well in one of the major markets so if the fanbois are lucky there will be a bunch of competitively priced Apple kit on sale in a bit. Personally, having used what passes for a Huawei "budget" phone I'm curious to see what their flagship ones are like; they appear to be making outstanding products and its only the unceasing efforts of the US government and their hanger-on that are preventing them from dominating the market.

  18. cd

    One can pretend

    Rename your hotspot to 5G_COVID_Spreader.

  19. jonfr

    Bad coverage limited to UK?

    It seems to me that bad coverage is a rather UK specific problem. I've not been having 4G coverage problems in Iceland, Denmark or Germany. In Germany I have a speed problem with 4G because that's a country wide problem. Currently the change now is that in the Nordic countries and Germany they have started to shut down the old 3G networks and replacing them with 4G network and 5G networks.

    I don't know how well UK is doing in this.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Bad coverage limited to UK?

      >I've not been having 4G coverage problems in Iceland

      Stepped outside Reykjavik?

      Mind you Iceland is relatively flat so you probably can get some form of 4G in Vatnajökull - I seem to remember getting some GSM coverage on my travels around the country in the 90's.

      1. jonfr

        Re: Bad coverage limited to UK?

        If you have not been in Iceland since the late 1998 or about that time then I understand why you think Iceland still have bad coverage.

        I live outside of Reykjavík and I have for most of my life. The future plan in Iceland is the closing of 2G and 3G networks in next few years to make space for 4G and 5G networks and start of 6G around 2030's.

  20. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Stealth that be known by another Name

    5G ..... and all subsequent future improving developments and iterations are best realised and utilised as novel conduits for advanced intelligent content that both act as virile 0day exploit driver unit and all powerful hosting agent on what is in relative effect, a brand spanking new human operating system with ubiquitous World Wide Webs Sublimely Internet Networking Supremely.

    Do you think for that, one has to be able to exert and enable exercise of command and control with machines, both practically robotic and metaphysically virtual ‽ . And is such readily available for everywhere today ‽ . And are they rhetorical questions?

    Answers please on a virtual postcard to El Reg here.

  21. hoola Silver badge


    The crucial point here is that it is a new product in a crowded, mature market targeted at people who must have the latest bling. It is irrelevant that most of these devices will probably never connect to 5G, it is just a way of separating people from their money and creating (yet more) e-waste.

    Does your existing phone do what you need it to do?

    If they are less than 3 or 4 years old then the answer is most likely yes. All these new devices are getting bigger increasingly a pain in the arse to use, particularly if you use it for what it's original primary purpose was, a telephone. Many no longer fit into any pockets and even bags with phone compartments are too small.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conspiracy theory - Darker forces at play.

    The networks are sitting on 5G spectrum for almost 4 years now and having cornered most of it, doesnt allow any minnow newcomer to disrupt the market (at local levels too). Any organization would have sacked their employees/ CEOs for such wasteful purchases without any returns. Even the 700 MHz bands' auctions keeps being deferred (which would actually penetrate walls/buidlings and travel long distances) which would make 5G a reality for the plebs and make UK truly mobile and dynamic.

    The token launches are just an eyewash to hoodwink OFCOM into not investigating this abuse of power.

    There's also the issue of hurting the cash cow streams of landline monopolists (BT & Virgin) and are thus reluctant to go Gung Ho for 5G deployements, lest it cannibalises their captive revenue. The Tory freindly hedge funds / shareholders and dividend seekers must be protected at any cost !

    "Build and they will come" is along forotten manufacturing motto. If networks had put in the masts/towers/antenna (before Trump started farting from his mouth), we would all be in 5G heaven by now and its true benefits being realised.5G phones and modems would be mainstream and cheap by now.

    And who doesnt slurp data ?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Conspiracy theory - Darker forces at play.

      That would be darker forces at sub-prime play, AC, and they know it too .... which must be pretty terrifying and extremely worrying for them in fields of significant universal influence in which they are both easily exposed and effectively rendered totally impotent and unworthy of future support and current maintenance.

      If one carries and espouses an austere narrative for presentation in any quarter/segment/land place/virtual space, is virulent opposition and vital competition guaranteed to appear and seek to prevail.

      Hope springs eternal is the dope that supplies that kernel ore for mining and Enriched NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT BaseMetaData Pre-Processing. And you can count yourselves extremely fortunate that you don't have to be able to do any of that yourselves, for it is easily done for you by A.N.Others minded to share the results of such an unprecedented labour with so many colossal tasks to boot and reboot?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Conspiracy theory - Darker forces at play.

        Gosh, you sound from much beyond Mars , where it is even darker !

        Where is the plain English Stasi ?

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