Phone manufacturers are gearing up to release the world’s first 5G-capable smartphone. But with large parts of the UK still lacking reliable 4G, how excited should we be?
5G smartphones look set to be released on to the UK market as soon as early next year if the murmurings of tech companies are to be believed.
Sony is the most recent to stress the importance of the technology, claiming it was a top priority for its next generation of Xperia phones at an investors meeting recently.
But Sony isn’t the only tech company jostling to get a 5G phone to the market.
It seems we’re likely to see at least four mobile handsets released next year that are 5G-enabled: the Sony Xperia XZ3, the OnePlus 7, the Huawei P30 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S10.
But apart from increased data rates, what does 5G mean for phones? Well, they may look a little different than we’re used to. Handsets are already big, but 5G technology could require more space inside along with a bigger battery to power them.
Qatar was the world’s first country to launch a 5G network in May this year. But as there are no 5G mobile handsets available right now, it’s currently only servicing a few lucky home broadband users.
Saudi Arabia was next, launching a 5G network later in May with the aim of being ready for when the devices finally arrive.
And South Korea trialed 5G during its time hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics.
In the UK, EE has announced that it plans to trial its 5G network in October of this year, with London unsurprisingly the first city being targeted for the service.
4G-et about it
But shouldn’t we be focusing on getting 4G (and even 3G) rolled out across the UK before 5G is introduced to a few lucky areas?
Just take a look at OpenSignal’s map for mobile reception coverage in the UK – huge areas still suffer terrible reception for 3G and even 2G.
I’ve noticed this especially when visiting relatives in the countryside. Going west from Birmingham, you go from good 4G reception to mobile data black spots within just a number of miles.
Compare the UK map with some European countries – notably Belgium and the Netherlands – and it’s clear the UK has a lot of work to do in bringing even basic mobile data reception to vast swathes of the country.
Are you excited for 5G? Or is your area still suffering from a lack of 4G or even 3G reception?