Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Tests Show 5G Networks in U.S. Are Rarely Fast and Wildly Overhyped

Sascha Segan, PC Magazine:

We admit it, we bought into the 5G hype. Carriers, phone makers, and chip makers alike have all been selling 5G as faster and more powerful than 4G, with lower latency. So I was shocked to see that our AT&T 5G results, especially, were slower than 4G results on the same network.

This is a crisis for marketing, not for performance. All three US carriers showed significantly higher download speeds and better broadband reliability than they did in our 2019 tests. It’s just that these gains, particularly on AT&T, are largely because of improvements in 4G, not 5G networks.


It’s worth mentioning that neither AT&T’s nor T-Mobile’s 5G networks are faster than the Bell and Telus 4G networks in Canada. Bell and Telus were able to outpace our 5G technologies without a lick of 5G.

Beaten by Canadians — ouch.

Geoffrey A. Fowler, Washington Post:

Apple is expected to unveil its first 5G-enabled iPhones at an event on Sept. 15. Samsung’s entire flagship lineup is now 5G-equipped. So these 2020 models are going to really fly, right?

Well, hold on just a minute. 5G may hold promise for the years ahead — but across most of America in 2020, a 5G phone does diddly squat. Testing 5G phones, I’ve been clocking download speeds that are roughly the same as on 4G LTE ones. And in some places, like inside my house and along the California highway, my 5G phones actually have been slower.

The on-page headline of Fowler’s article may be “The 5G lie: The network of the future is still slow”, but the title tag says that “Apple’s September event will bring a 5G iPhone”. However, Mark Gurman says that it will not, and Apple previously said that new iPhones would be available a “few weeks” later than in years past. For these and other reasons, I’m inclined to side against Fowler’s prediction despite its confidence.

At any rate, do not be surprised if only one iPhone model is 5G-capable. The usual suspects will say that this puts Apple at a severe competitive disadvantage despite 5G having zero measurable impact on the livelihood of Americans. It’s like LTE all over again.