5G compatibility is a question on every buyer’s mind right now. Specifically due to the push manufacturers have made to help make the next generation of cellular connectivity mainstream. The iPhone is arguably one of the most popular devices, and this year’s iPhone 13 Series’ improved support for 5G (first available on iPhone 12 Series) pushes it further towards widespread adoption.
But the higher cost of entry posed by Apple devices often leads to customers buying older generation phones to save some cash. Now, if you’re in a similar situation but don’t want to miss out on any features that will make your device future-proof — 5G included. Hence, this article details every iPhone model currently on sale and whether it supports 5G or not to help you make the right decision.
Note: This article lists the iPhones currently sold by Apple on its website. Discontinued models are excluded, but they may still be available with your regional carriers.
iPhones that support 5G
iPhone 13 Pro Series
The iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, in yearly fashion, are the latest and greatest iPhones available. The differentiating specification on this year’s model is the new Super Retina XDR display — with a smaller notch — which supports ProMotion Technology (first introduced on iPad Pro) that allows the device’s screen to refresh between 10Hz to 120Hz based on the content displayed.
Driving these OLED panels and the other components of the 13 Pro Series is the A15 Bionic, which now houses a 5-core GPU and batteries with undisclosed capacities. But, if battery longevity is part of your decision-making criteria, Apple claims an improvement of one and half hours and two and a half hours on the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, respectively, over their predecessors from the 12 Pro Series.
Speaking about 5G, iPhone 13 Series supports three additional network bands compared to its predecessors. The improvement will ensure you will have a chance at better connectivity as the technology continues to roll out and support increases.
iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Mini
The 6.1-inch iPhone 13 with a starting price of $799 and the smaller 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, available for $699, are devices akin to the S upgrades Apple has made in the past. They are a more polished version of the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini, with better battery life, a higher level of performance, improved camera sensors (similar to last year’s 12 Pro lineup), increased base storage (128GB instead of 64GB), and display panels. The improved Super Retina XDR display on these models does not feature ProMotion; Although it does have a slightly increased viewable area and a greater peak level of brightness, 800 nits to be precise.
Compared to iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini, the new phones will last longer by a total of two and half hours for iPhone 13 and one and a half hours for iPhone 13 Mini. And as mentioned earlier, the additional 5G bands will help with improving connectivity.
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini
With the launch of the iPhone 13 Series, we expected Apple to discontinue the entire iPhone 12 lineup in favor of the newly upgraded models; Though instead of removing the whole line, only the 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max ended up on the chopping block.
The decision has left the iPhone 12 and 12 Mini with a reduced price tag, which makes them pretty value for money devices, in case you’re looking to get an iPhone for its long-lasting software support. The iPhone 12 now starts at $699, while the 12 Mini will be available for $599 — albeit they still ship with 64GB of storage, unlike the new iPhone 13 and 13 Mini.
Looking at the specifications, the A14 Bionic within these devices will ensure your purchase is still going strong a few years down the line, and the camera system on the device will continue to take photos that will remain competitive with other devices. And focusing on 5G compatibility, the phone still supports 20 out of the 23 network bands on the iPhone 13, meaning you will not be left out.
Now, the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max also support connecting to 5G networks. Unfortunately, they are unavailable to purchase from Apple’s official website. Meaning you will have to buy them refurbished or from a carrier.
iPhones that do not support 5G
A two-year-old device at this point, the iPhone 11 is the perfect device to experience Apple’s hardware that isn’t always the best on paper but provides an acceptable user experience. This model features a 6.1-inch LCD panel dubbed the Liquid Retina display, driven by the A13 Bionic and supported by a 3110mAh battery.
Now, as you may know from the title of this list, this model does not support 5G connectivity, but it features most of the bells and whistles of the newer iPhone models — albeit it does them in a slightly worse manner. The phone features a dedicated Night Mode, which can brighten up almost any dimly lit situation and has a 12MP front shooter to ensure the selfies you click are not lacking detail.
For $499, the iPhone 11’s high degree of performance and camera quality makes it a reasonable purchase. Although, it is not competitive in display quality and connectivity (due to lack of 5G).
iPhone SE 2020
Old-school design, moderately new hardware, and long-lasting support, are the three pillars that make up the iPhone SE 2020. This phone looks just like iPhones from before September 2018 but packs the internals of the iPhone 11 mixed and matched with camera optics from the iPhone 8.
Now, the iPhone SE still retails for $399 and is likely to be supported for the next three years. It’s also the only iPhone in Apple’s lineup that still features the TouchID sensor.
Amongst other specs, you will find a 4.7-inch LCD powered by a 1821mAh. Processing on this phone, as mentioned earlier, is handled by the iPhone 11’s A13 Bionic.
Should you buy an iPhone with 5G?
All right, so 5G networks are slowly and steadily developing. Slow is the word to focus upon here. But with seventy-five percent (six out of eight phones) of iPhones sold by Apple being 5G compatible, the question of whether you should buy an iPhone with 5G support or not feels a little irrelevant.
According to my thoughts, the answer is, if you can afford the premium that an iPhone 12 will charge, Yes! Get an iPhone with 5G. You don’t need to have a cellular plan with compatibility, but having a phone that supports it is a plus. Also, the screen on the iPhone 12 is a massive upgrade over the one on iPhone 11 — the best iPhone to get if you’re on a budget.
AT&T Reminds Us That 5G Will Be Awesome Someday
We’ve been hearing about the advantages of 5G’s high-speed wireless data connections for years now, but if you have a 5G capable phone, you probably rarely see significant speed boosts and you may not even know why you would want higher bandwidth. At least for me, most of the time that I see a 5G indicator on my phone, the speed test is barely faster than the regular 4G connection. 4G LTE is already pretty great for uploading videos to Tik Tok or Instagram. It’s great for remote access to desktop computers and virtual machines via virtual private networks, too. However, there are going to be use cases in the future that will really take advantage of higher bandwidth internet connections and AT&T was here to remind us this week with a few cases that are usable today.
Crazy speeds in airports
First off, Boingo has been deploying AT&T’s 5G+ (their mmWave version of 5G) at 7 major U.S.A. airports in 2021 with 25 more airports to come in 2022. Boingo has already deployed this in the Tampa Florida airport, and our friend Ray Doan emailed us a screenshot of his speed test while at that airport recently.
I was skeptical at first, saying, “Yeah, but how big is the area where you get that speed?” because mmWave 5G doesn’t have a huge amount of range and doesn’t pass through walls very well. Ray said that actually, it seems to be everywhere inside the airport, which is really great news. Of course, on his 5G iPhone, the mmWave 5G certainly kills the battery a lot more quickly. Still having some high bandwidth internet access for playing a game, downloading movies, or syncing work data while waiting for a flight is pretty awesome.
Cloud gaming is one use case for high-bandwidth wireless data connections that is really compelling. Right now, with console or PC gaming, you either have to install a huge game from a set of disks or download a huge game from the internet. That could take hours!
With game streaming, the games are installed in a virtual machine or some sort of container in a data center. All of those hundreds of gigabytes of data are in the cloud somewhere. The user only needs a device that can stream the video output from the game and upstream the control input signals. Those two things don’t take up nearly as much bandwidth as downloading a 120Gb game, but they do require very low-latency instant response times for a good gaming experience, and that’s where high-speed 5G access comes in very handy.
Currently, game streaming is limited to mostly existing console games, but if we get a larger coverage of 5G or equivalent high-speed internet connections, games could be developed to make larger use of huge underground data centers rather than being limited to the graphics and processing capabilities of home console game systems.
Speaking of game streaming, another type of gaming will really be able to take advantage of high bandwidth data connections. Currently, getting really good virtual reality experiences still requires a wired connection to a very powerful computer. With high-speed 5G wireless data, we can instead stream the video output to a wireless headset and stream the input from the headset sensors & controls to/from much more powerful cloud-based computing centers that could exist anywhere.
AT&T has been experimenting with this using a Harry Potter experience game that is currently available (as a tethered version) at the Harry Potter store in New York City. A wireless 5G-enabled version is being tested in California though.
Augmented reality has been a little more popular than virtual reality as it combines real-life camera footage with overlay-ed graphics. All of those filters in things like Instagram that detect your face and add graphics are examples of augmented reality. This can be done while pointing your camera at other things as well.
The NBA Bulls app has an augmented reality feature where you can point your phone at a basketball game and it will overlay useful graphics to augment your basketball watching experience.
In Dallas, Chicago, and San Francisco AT&T flagship stores there are 5G enabled Space Jam Tune Squad tabletop promo areas where you can create an augmented reality video of yourself. There are also some new Space Jam-themed Instagram filters available in partnership with Facebook. Bookful, an augmented reality reading app, has added some AR 3D experiences to some children’s book reading experiences, too.
Of course, the real excitement about 5G should be what will be possible 5 or 10 years from now. Smartphones 20 years ago only had 18kb/s-56kb/s wireless data speeds; great for text-based emails and lightweight WAP sites, but sending a crappy photo or downloading a map was terrible. Today we can easily remotely control desktops/servers, control IoT devices, stream videos & audio, and add fake dog ears to our faces… tomorrow we’ll be able to stream virtual reality, automate vehicular traffic, automate factories & deliveries, and who knows what else?
AT&T 5G announcement: Fast Airport Internet, Better AR and Cloud Gaming
AT&T announced a number of new and ongoing partnerships with some big brands and sports teams to use 5G in a more meaningful way. The recent changes will have some pretty significant effects, depending on which of these are the most important to you.
AT&T spent over £23 billion back in February to improve and build out its 5G network. The carrier said it’d begin deploying 40MHz of its new 80MHz spectrum later this year, as soon as its new C-band becomes officially available (via Gizmodo). The new 5G C-band will cover anywhere from 70 to 75 million Americans by the end of 2022, and the currently existing standard sub 6GHz 5G network cover more than 250 million people in the US. The 5G+ (mmWave) is only available in 38 cities and 20 stadiums and venues across the country.
In a press release yesterday, AT&T has announced several new partnerships that aim to improve the service and bring 5G closer to its customers. The partnerships include arenas and sports franchises like Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat. Having such big names allows AT&T to provide better wireless service when its customers are attending the events.
The announcements also included showing off some 5G-powered demos, such as the Space Jam AR experience where characters like Bug Bunny and Daffy Duck can be placed down in interactive ways. The demo also included a few other characters.
The improved 5G coverage will help AT&T provide better game streaming with Google Stadia. Boingo will also help deliver improved wireless speeds to airports, military bases, and several stadiums across the nation. Having more bandwidth at lower latencies will enable AT&T to give more perks and more enhanced service to its customers, resulting in a better experience and faster speeds where it is needed and used the most.
Apple betting big on 5G, increases iPhone 13 5G suppliers
Apple is committed to bringing faster 5G connectivity outside of the US, according to a new report. Last year’s iPhone models were equipped with mmWave-capable chipset, however this was limited to only the US, the rest of the world has only received the slower sub-6GHz 5G support.
This might change for the next generation of iPhone series, according to Digitimes. Apple is reported to have increased the supplies for the 5G related hardware that also supports mmWave. There are now said to be five suppliers, according to industry sources.
The companies supplying the 5G components are Semco, LG Innotek, Kinsus Interconnect Technology, Unimircon Technology. The report says that Apple is expected to boost the ratio of 5G mmWave devices to 60% of its new iPhone lineup in 2021, with models estimated to reach 90 million units. The five suppliers are expected to share the orders for the components, each taking up about 20% of the demand.
One of the main reasons why it took Apple more than a year to figure out how to bring mmWave overseas is cost, but there are also four antenna-in-package components that are needed to ensure the hardware is fully functional. This brings more complexity to the production of iPhones. The fact that Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, shipping tens of millions of iPhones each month also doesn’t help it to find a reliable supplier, or suppliers. 2020 was also a very hard year, and there are still component shortages happening, which added yet another complexity.
It’s not surprising to see Apple support the faster mmWave worldwide, since the adoption has since sped up, especially in some parts of Europe and Asia. mmWave provides speeds up in the gigabits, while sub-6GHz provides somewhat similar, slightly higher speeds than 4G LTE.
This year, we’re expected to see all four models, including the mini, although there are reports that it might not make it. The camera is also expected to receive some great improvements. The next generation of iPhones are expected to be announced in the third week in September.
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