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Wednesday, 11 September 2019 20:25

Big problem with article that claims big problem with new iPhone 11


OPINION: An article that claims there's a big problem with the new iPhone has itself a big problem, simply because it claims there being no 5G version of the iPhone itself yet, is some kind of actual, real world problem - and it's not even the real issue!

Over at News . com . au, there's an article entitled "iPhone 11 launch: Big 5G problem plaguing the new Apple phone". You can read my report on Apple's new iPhone 11, 11 Pro, iPad, Watch, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade and other announcements at my earlier article here

Apparently, because Samsung, LG and others have some flagships models that offer 5G connectivity, and Apple doesn't as yet (and isn't expected to until 2020), this is some kind of major blow to Apple.

The reality of 5G networks in Australia and around the world is that they offer absolute pin pricks of coverage compared to 4G networks and 3G networks.

It will take fervent building by Australian telcos and those around the world to build out more 5G towers first before that issue is solved. 

And, just as we had 3.5G technologies, chipsets and upgraded towers that offered faster 3G speeds than the original 3G network standard, and claims of 4.5G networks that, again, offered faster 4G speeds that the first 4G networks, so too will 5G networks get faster and faster over the next few years. 

5G is supposed to deliver network speeds 100 times faster than 4G, but with 4G LTE-A networks able to offer "up to" 1 or even 2Gbps speeds if you have the right kind of 4G smartphone and there's no-one else on the suitably-equipped and upgraded 4G network, you can get very fast 4G speeds. 5G certainly is NOT delivering speeds 100 times faster than modern LTE-A networks in 2019, and likely won't for some years yet. 

5G speeds in some test overseas seem barely faster than the speeds 4G networks are delivering, and while I have seen 5G speed tests of hundreds of megabits per second, my own 4G smartphone can clock up speeds of up to and above 200Mbps download - depending on where I am in various cities.

Anyone who has a 5G smartphone knows the coverage is hard to find, and while it will expand and grow, 5G smartphone users are spending a heck of a lot more time on 4G and 3G networks than 5G for the moment.

The 5G network will be expanded locally and globally over the next 2, 3, 4, 5 years and beyond, with faster 5G technologies and towers being built, which will require upgraded 5G chipsets in the smartphones of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond, etc, ad infinitum, times infinity plus one. Your 2019 5G smartphone is unlikely to take full advantage of the 5.5G network that will be delivered in 2021, or 2022, or whenever it comes - which is completely normal and natural. 

Someone, somewhere is presuambly already working on 6G technologies and is dreaming up what 7G, 8G and other generations might look like, whether they deliver 8K, 16K, 32K or whatever comes next 3D or even 4D holography, if not some form of teleportation - if we ever invent that. Newsflash: your 2019 4G or 5G smartphone won't work with those future networks either!

Then let's look at the fact that Samsung, LG and others have not given up on creating smartphones that only offer 2G, 3G and 4G (even if the 2G network no longer exists in Australia, anyone who travels may well use it when overseas).

Samsung, LG, Motorola, Google, Huawei, Oppo, OnePlus, Sony and everyone else hasn't stopped selling smartphones that don't have a 5G chipset inside of them.

The price of 5G-equipped smartphones are clearly more expensive than non-5G equivalents, as will probably be the case when Apple launches 5G models in 2020, if that's the time when they decide it is worth launching.

What's vastly more important than whether your 2019 smartphone has 5G or not is whether it has the features and benefits you want and need, at the price you can afford or are prepared to pay.

As noted, if 5G is important to you this year and you must have it, well, you won't be buying an iPhone in 2019. 

Apple was rumoured - as it has been over the last couple of years - to introduce Apple Pencil stylus capabilities to its new iPhones. Did that happen? No. Not in 2019, anyway. 

Will it happen in 2020 or in the future? My presumption is a definite yes, given we have the Apple Pencil in its first and second generations on the non-pro iPads and the iPad Pro models.

It just seems natural that Apple will introduce it at some point, and the closest you can get it in a "small" size on iOS today is the 2019 iPad mini, which is a really impressive affordable multitasking computer, especially with iPadOS loaded onto it, although you'll have to buy the stylus separately.

Now, if having an advanced stylus on a large screen smartphone is important to you, then no Apple iPhone is going to satisfy you this year because it just doesn't exist - and you're probably already a Samsung Note customer.

Want two screens on your smartphone without having two separate phones? LG has models launched this year for you that can do just that.

Want a folding phone? Samsung's Fold is back on sale and will arrive later this year, and while Huawei's Mate X folding smartphone will apparently not come with the Google Play Store or Google apps pre-loaded, the Mate X is coming, too and it will be possible to side load Google's apps to your heart's content and fold to your heart's content from there.

Want a phone with 5G, even though it will use more battery power faster, run hotter and run most of the time in 4G due to the aforementioned lack of 5G coverage? Then you won't be buying an iPhone!

And yes, maybe then it will be a "big problem" for you. But for the vast majority of consumers, it is completely irrelevant.

If you are in the iOS ecosystem, then an iPhone is likely to be more important to you than any Android. Likewise, if you're an Android user, then iOS would be irrelevant. 

Price is a huge factor - flagship 2019 smartphones are expensive, too - $1500 and up to $2500 and even beyond.

Plenty of people have found the benefit of refurbished smartphones, while there are plenty of mid-range models too at prices hundreds or even thousands of dollars lower than flagships.

For some people, affordability is a much bigger problem than 5G, which only adds cost.

So, click on the clickbait that proclaims "big problems" for this phone or that because it doesn't have 5G if you want, but heck, by this logic, Samsung, LG, Oppo and others have big problems with all of the models they sell that don't have 5G either. Is anyone seriously claiming that in click bait articles? Well, someone somewhere probably is, but you don't see that on the front page of News . com . au, do you? No.  

To conclude, you will buy the smartphone you can afford, whether it is the latest and greatest on a phone plan, or some other one, when the time is right for you - which for most of us is not right now!

Ok, so if might be right now if you lose your phone or break it, or if you decide to sell what you have to help fund some newer model. Indeed, if there is a real problem that some, at least face, it is in deciding what you want to phone to upgrade to in a world of the widest choice we've ever had.

If you are having problems right now, then I sincerely hope the problems you're successfully solving in your life are far more important than whether your potential 2019 smartphone purchase has 5G or not.

Good luck - and may you win your personal battles in deciding which company will bend the knee to your desires as you sit upon your personal Game of Phones Throne. Winter is coming in the Northern Hemisphere, whlle Summer is coming to us down under, and whatever you decide to do, I hope it has a nice ring to it!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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