iPhone 11 not having 5G is both okay and not okay

iPhone 11 not having 5G is both okay and not okay
It's official: the iPhone 11 does not support 5G connectivity. 

Is that okay and doesn't it mean that Apple is behind the pack?

There are two ways to look at this:

  • yes, it's okay because 5G is available in very, very few locations in the US. 5G availability is measured in blocks, not in neighborhoods, and even standing close to a tree might mean you will lose signal.
  • no, it's not okay because even though there is no 5G infrastructure in the US yet, people are now holding on to their phones for an average of around 3 years, enough time for that 5G build-out to happen and for those consumers to feel left out. Also, low-band 5G is now already available in a number of countries outside the US, where you get a lot better coverage, and the iPhone does not support those new bands either.

New iPhones missing 5G: It's okay if...

You won't really miss 5G if you live in the United States

Once you know the general argument, you can see if the new iPhones missing 5G connectivity matters to you. First and foremost, if you live in the US, 5G coverage is so limited that you really would not miss it. Our bet is that it would take at least a year to have somewhat decent 5G coverage and even then it will be limited to a few downtown areas and gathering places like stadiums or at concerts. All US carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile) are building out a 5G network based mostly on mmWave frequencies right now, a kind of technology that simply is not capable to travel far and requires a lot of individual towers to function over short distances.

Also, 5G networks are much faster, but 4G LTE is already fast enough for many people, and unless you are amongst those power users that really need it, you probably will not appreciate the difference that much.

New iPhones missing 5G: It's not okay if...

Mostly, if you live in a country where you truly have wide 5G coverage

Missing 5G on the latest iPhones is a bigger problem if you live or travel to a European country, where there are quite big 5G networks based on a different technology that uses frequencies that don't allow the super high speeds that you will see with mmWave in the US, but that travel further and provide better coverage.

Countries like Switzerland or Austria for example now have very good 5G coverage across the big cities and users there would definitely see how other devices with 5G connectivity offer higher speeds.

When is 5G coming to iPhones?

Next year is a good guess

Just a few days ago, we saw Chinese phone maker Huawei announce its first chip with 5G connectivity built into it, the Kirin 990, but it's worth remembering that chip does not support mmWave bands that are commonly used in US 5G networks.

And when you see existing devices like the Galaxy S10+ 5G, you see that those phones are first, larger, and second, way more expensive.

Apple is traditionally not a company that wants to be the first one to adopt a new technology and considering that 5G might require a much more expensive phone, it might have actually made a reasonable decision to not rush it. We do, however, expect the 2020 series of iPhones to come with 5G support and usher us into that new era of faster speeds.



1. Torrey187

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 01, 2013

I honestly can live without 5G just fine for now. I can get up to 200mbps down on T Mobile in NY and even 4K streaming works fine. 5G would just be glorified speeds for bragging rights at the moment. I can only see this being useful right now in areas with dense population like a football stadium or a concert.

11. midan

Posts: 2911; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

”I can get up to 200mbps down on T Mobile in NY and even 4K streaming works fine” Well 4K stream works fine with 20 mbps.

2. gadgetpower

Posts: 208; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

Its ok. Internet speed is good enough.

4. saif2711

Posts: 85; Member since: Feb 22, 2016

It'll be 100% NOT OKAY if Samsung note 10 or s10 lack 5G..since it's apple it's fine.

5. JCASS889

Posts: 539; Member since: May 18, 2018

It's so apple forces its flock to upgrade again next year when they put 5g in. It's a way to beat the upgrade cycle

13. bbycrts

Posts: 28; Member since: Nov 05, 2018

But hasn't there been a lot of buzz that much of Apple's sales problem stems from the fact that consumers are holding on to their phones a lot longer than they used to? Sure, the fanboys may feel "forced" to upgrade again next year - only because they would be buying the latest, greatest thing from Apple anyway, whether 5g is there or not. Apple could announce that 5g won't be coming out until 2025 and the hardcore fans would still be upgrading every year.

6. maherk

Posts: 6889; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I'm completely fine with this. 5G is far from ready for prime time, with all it's inconsistencies, I don't see the reason behind implementing it in our phones at the moment, especially on the expense of higher prices and battery life.

7. VariableCheapskate

Posts: 144; Member since: May 29, 2019

5G is going to be a downgrade to the current LTE anyways, and much like the folding display panel smartphone we're probably not going to see any affordable or averagely efficient performance for a handful of years.

8. User123456789

Posts: 926; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

But 5G is working in other countries already. There are people buying 5G phones.

9. ZEUS.the.thunder.god

Posts: 1124; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

The only way it's okay is, if you want to replace your $1100 (64GB) phone next year. IMO, People are holding on to their expensive phones for longer. It's just a s**tty move to force people to either upgrade next year or not be able to use 5G unless they buy a new phone.

10. maherk

Posts: 6889; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

They're most likely going to change the design next year, so 5G won't be the reason why people might want to upgrade next year.

14. bbycrts

Posts: 28; Member since: Nov 05, 2018

If people are holding on to phones longer what's the problem waiting until next year to upgrade? I don't get this whole "force" people to upgrade next year argument. For the VAST majority of users, 5g won't significantly change their use of a phone. Android users crow every year about how their phones have all the cutting edge tech while Apple waits...and every year Apple users show that they just don't care. 5g may be more widely available in a few small markets, but in the largest markets in the world it's just a silly marketing ploy that's being deployed in a whole bunch of noncompatible ways. Apple understands its core user base very, very well; if their financial health depended on 5g at this point, they would implement it.

12. midan

Posts: 2911; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Wake me up for 5G when it’s completely free for users without any extra cost. I see zero reason to get 5G and especially pay for it and i don’t think this will change in coming years. 5G is one day propably quite big thing when everything around us works in 5G, but that’s not happening in many many years.

15. bbycrts

Posts: 28; Member since: Nov 05, 2018

Amen! 5g is just marketing hype right now. mm wave, at this point anyway, is a silly implementation of 5g. Proprietary, highly limited, and compatible with only a few phones that will themselves be obsolete when 5g is actually widely available. I'm sure there are people buying the few 5g handsets currently available who will never once see a 5g signal hit their phone.

16. Wazupmrg

Posts: 175; Member since: Apr 10, 2017

5G will hit early next year in many carriers, and you'll get stuck with a non 5g device for close to 2 years. But Apple doesn't worry about staying up to date with technology, so I guess the sheep will be satisfied with morsels of improvements

17. midan

Posts: 2911; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

”5G will hit early next year in many carriers, and you'll get stuck with a non 5g device for close to 2 years” Why would you want to pay for 5G? I don’t see any problem to be stuck without feature which i wouldn’t even use.

19. oldskool50

Posts: 1596; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Exactly. It seems every time a new technology comes, it seems that in peoples mind; they think what they have all of a sudden is obsolete. I liek havign the next new thing too. But 4G is fast enough and it's been fast enough for everyone since day one. There is no need to rush and pay for an overpriced technology that will drop in price over the next 2 years. Carriers will still be supporting 4G until at least 2025. Even after 4G came, carriers support 2G and 3G for several years afterwards. In fact Verizon is still support 2G signal until 12/21/2019. So theer is no rush to run out and get a 5G device, for a signal only available at Football games and some large metro areas. In ChiTown, downtown is covered with lots of 5G nodes. but my neighborhood only has 5 and 4 of them are only along main drags.

18. oldskool50

Posts: 1596; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

I would say, it's better NOT to have it. I saw VZW come and put a 5G node at the end of my Alley. But it is the only one I've seen anywhere in the city; outside of downtown. There is literally one node at every half mile downtown. But once you leave downtown, 5G is very spotty. Checking their map, there are literally one 5 of them in my neighborhood, which is roughly a 5 mile square. I would say the extra cost for the fancier modem, and the fact carriers are charging crazy prices to even have it right now; means its better to wait 2 more years when its main stream, when modem prices will come down do to higher production rates for more OEM's getting them, and then carriers who are charging a lot now to pay for the hardware infrastructure, start to lower the costs to subscribers. When 4G came out, there was no extreme carrier pricing structures for it. Now all of a sudden carriers are increasing costs. They are taking advantage of early adopters who really don't even need it. I say wait for the point, when its being adopted by everyone. 5G is both a blessing and a curse. Right now it's an expensive curse.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.