Just because Apple has a 5G phone doesn’t mean I want one, today.
I made a promise that in 2021, I’d buy someone a new phone (undoubtedly Apple) for a graduation gift. Will that new phone be one from the iPhone 12 series? Probably not, though I will honor my promise when the time comes next year.
While the decision of which iPhone model to buy next year isn’t mine to make, I might recommend avoiding any iPhone 12 model.
Do we really need 5G on our phones just yet? I say no until the apps that we’ll really use become available. Right now, we don’t even know what we’ll need. Did anyone know we’d use apps such as ride sharing (COVID-19 notwithstanding)? Those apps will surely come, but they will take time. Whenever some new technology comes along, some people run to buy it, usually for the “cool” factor. Others will say, “who needs it?” How many said that about LTE? Were you one of them? Would you say that today? Would you go back to 2G or 3G? Probably not. The same will happen with 5G but by then, the iPhone 14 will come out assuming Apple skips number 13. (On the other hand, the company did use iOS 13.) Apple’s second 5G phone will likely have an X60 5G modem, an improvement over the currently available modems.
Reality: It [5G] is not that good or that fast at the moment and most people in the United States don’t need to get it now…I fear people will waste their money on half-baked technology and grow disillusioned by 5G’s potential to improve lives.
5G technology isn’t “half baked,” It’s fully baked, just not widely deployed — yet. In five years when Ms. Ovide has a 5G-inspired app that she can’t live without, she’ll write about the wonders of 5G. In ten years, she might be back saying that we don’t need 6G.
We engineers often hesitate to buy the latest technology because we consider “new” a synonym for “unproven.” For example, I refuse to install iOS 14 on my 2016 iPhone SE because Apple made too many changes and there will be new bugs. I’ll keep iOS 13.7 and wait for iOS 14.1. The same holds true for a 5G phone. I can wait. Indeed, my next iPhone will likely be the later version of SE or maybe an iPhone 11 because the larger size brings with it a larger capacity battery.
I’m still using my iPad 2, which is stuck at iOS 9.3. While it’s true that many apps won’t run on it (including YouTube), the browser still works. Plus, I can still use email, Facebook, Twitter, and other apps. I simply use the browser for YouTube. The battery still has plenty of life in it.
Speaking of batteries, all the iPhone SE’s received new batteries just before COVID-19 struck. Given their cost, I want to get as much value as possible from the batteries.
Another reason to hold onto my iPhone SE: It has an earphone jack. If you can’t risk having the charge on your Bluetooth earbuds die during an important call and you have no time to charge them, then passive earbuds and headphones win every time. Sure, you can get an adapter (I have one for my work iPhone 8) for your passive headphones, but that’s annoying and it’s one more thing to carry, lose, or break.
As much as I like the home button, I will learn to live without it just as my wife learned to live without a slide-out keyboard. (Anyone want to buy a slide keyboard for an iPhone 4?) One of the iPhone SE’s has twice suffered from a failed home button. To replace it, Apple forces you to buy a new screen unless you’re willing to try replacing the home button yourself. Apple being Apple.
For the record, I gave up my iPhone 4S in 2017 because the carrier reassigned its 1900 MHz band from 4G to LTE, dropping my data down to 2G. See, I can’t live with 2G anymore. Someday we will think the same of LTE, but it’s at least one phone away.
The main reason why people may skip a 5G phone is a reluctance to pay higher subscription rates for faster download speeds. The carriers will make their money from the other features of 5G such as private networks and IoT, not so much from consumers.