T-Mobile have kept bragging that their 5G technology has advanced greatly over the course of the past months. It’s all revolving around an optimal concept of a 5G network, which consists of three core parts:
The top part is the next gen ultra-fast millimeter wave technology, which is the base of Verizon’s 5G experience. Data speeds on such technologies are over 1Gbps usually. Unfortunately, at the moment the signal doesn’t carry too far (up to two city blocks at most) and indoor coverage is pretty much unachievable.
The middle part is represented by a mid-band spectrum (similar to the 2.5 GHz airwaves currently used by Sprint for 5G networks). This kind of technology doesn’t output the same amazing speeds as the millimeter wave technology, but coverage is far more reliable, resembling that of LTE.
The base of everything is the low-band spectrum, which is part of T-Mobile’s recent formula. The vast 600 MHz holdings allows T-Mobile to cover large stretches of big cities and suburbs all around America in a gapless manner.
There is a catch, however: Speeds are significantly slower and far from our idea of “next gen” internet connection. It’s really not that big of a step up from traditional LTE. T-Mobile was keen on publicly admitting this, but also confirmed that users of the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren Edition or Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G will often experience download speeds at least 20 percent faster than typical LTE connections.
Field tests revealed that the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G returned download speeds between 70 Mbps and 200 Mbps on the 600 MHz 5G network of T-Mobile. Download speeds over 200 Mbps are a rare occurrence. The test was done in New York City. However, newer flagship devices sometimes hit such speeds over standard LTE connection.
5G networks – the reality
The actual benefit of low-band 5G is that users will experience faster, more reliable coverage in the same places where they had poor reception previously.
T-Mobile admits that 5G is currently still for early developers, meaning that the technology is not fully ready to massively hit the market. The package of the OnePlus has a sticker that reads “5G is still developing”. These companies are trying to temperate expectations for early supporters of the new technology.
PCMag actually labeled T-Mobile’s 600 MHz 5G as “4.9G” to furthermore accentuate this fact.
Unfortunately, regardless how excited you might be about 5G technology, at the moment it’s simply not worth the extra financial effort. Let’s face it: 5G compatible smartphones are rare and expensive. Next year will probably meet consumers with budget friendly 5G devices.
The Note 10 Plus 5G and One Plus McLaren Edition are incompatible with T-Mobile’s millimeter wave network, so neither of the two can download a full movie from Prime Video or Netflix in mere seconds. The pricing of the OnePlus McLaren Edition ($900) might seem reasonable when looking at the design of the phone and its specifications, but the Note 10 5G can be easily labeled as overpriced, which means that their price tags will scare away potential buyers. It gets even worse! Both the devices can only support T-Mobile’s 5G technology. In case the user switches carriers they won’t be able to use their phone properly.
In conclusion, users will have to stick to good old 4G (and LTE) for a bit longer, until all the tweaking process for the 5G networks is done.