So you’re thinking about getting the new Samsung Galaxy S20 as your phone. You want to unlock access to the similarly new 5G cell phone networks being deployed in America recently. All of this new technology can be tough to wrap your head around, with each generation of technology’s new collection of jargon and buzzwords. When it comes to shopping for new gadgets, the decisions you have to make are a lot simpler than they may appear at first glance. Keep reading to learn more about the Samsung Series 5G network and its capabilities.
Who’s Ahead in the Game?
Earlier this year, Sprint and T-Mobile partially paused 5G rollout as they worked on a merger that would allow them to benefit from improved access to specific technologies mutually. Samsung had not completed the work needed to make its low-end vanilla Galaxy S20 compatible with Verizon’s millimeter wave-based 5G network. Now, however, both those things have finished, and so when it comes to 5G, the only decision to make when purchasing your Galaxy S20 line phone is which company’s network will suit your needs and desires.
The Galaxy S20, Galaxy S20 Plus, and Galaxy S20 Ultra should all give the same 5G coverage from whatever network you decide to use.
5G Wavelengths With Phone Carriers
AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are the big providers when it comes to 5G. The key differences between the three major companies providing 5G in America come down to the consequences of radio wavelengths they are using for the 5G technology. Those can essentially be split into three categories: low-band, mid-band, and millimeter wave or mmWave. The higher the band used, the higher the potential speeds, but the worse the coverage area and building penetration.
Verizon is committed to using millimeter waves, and so is only available in 36 cities currently. AT&T has a millimeter wave deployed in 35 US cities. However, in addition to that, they use low-band and mid-band, allowing their nationwide coverage map to show 5G availability in most of the densely populated areas of the continental US. T-Mobile focuses on low- and mid-band. The phone carrier claims nationwide 5G coverage, which isn’t entirely accurate according to the coverage map but does appear to provide 5G access to a significantly wider audience than AT&T.
4G LTE vs. 5G
There might be a significant degree of marketing hype adding to the 5G appeal right now because, in practice, low-band and mid-band 5G tends to offer only marginal improvements over 4G LTE speeds. In some cases, 4G LTE was faster than 5G in the same location! Millimeter wave is the only one of the three bands that can offer faster speeds 5G promises to deliver; however, mmWave has difficulty filtering through barriers or other physical obstructions. In turn, these quicker speeds are hard to achieve in practice. Although low-band and mid-band have an easier time getting through walls, even these seem to need ideal conditions to offer more than a slight improvement over the old 4G.
One could argue that current technologies aren’t even “true” 5G necessarily. Authentic 5G is dependent on a combination of millimeter wave and lower band signals working together. That does mean, though, that the 5G speeds we see right now will increase over time, as phone carriers get closer to fully recognizing the technology.
Check out these cover maps for more information about Samsung 5G: