Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

5G Is Still Mostly Made of Unwarranted Hype

Dieter Bohn, the Verge:

Except I’m not baffled, not really. The last few years have seen the growth of the 5G Hype Industrial Complex. US carriers, Qualcomm, and phone manufacturers have all collaborated (one might say colluded) to drive a huge cycle of hype for 5G. They’ve promised streaming games, telemedicine, self-driving cars, and rural broadband for all. Some of those promises will come to pass, but the plain truth is that the networks aren’t anywhere close to ready, and these 5G phones are the clearest evidence of the gap between hype and reality.

We always give the same advice when reviewing a phone: don’t buy something today in the hopes of future updates making it better. Usually this advice applies to software, because so many promises that bugs will be truly addressed come to nothing.

For 5G, that advice still holds — but there is some nuance to it. I don’t think you should buy a phone because it has 5G, but if the phone you already were looking at has 5G, go for it.

The things from yesterday’s Apple event that have left a bad taste in my mouth have everything to do with its buy-in to carriers’ marketing and hype machine. That includes stuff like the misleading minimum pricing in the United States of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini models over a gimmicky “instant discount” of just thirty dollars. It includes the arduous time given to Verizon’s CEO. And, yes, it includes the long segments devoted to promises of life-changing advancements enabled by 5G networks.

For readers of websites like this one, it is probably not news to you that the hype around 5G is largely unwarranted — so far, at least. But Apple events have become general audience infomercials, and I would not be surprised if many people fully and unfairly bought into 5G’s marketing after watching this week’s presentation.