Samsung has announced its new Galaxy S21 family of Android phones, all of which support 5G: the Galaxy S21, the Galaxy S21+ and the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
The Galaxy S21 will start at $799.99, the Galaxy S21+ starts at $999.99, and the Galaxy S21 Ultra starts at $1,199.99. All of the S21 family is available for preorder now, with the official release date set for January 29.
In addition to supporting 5G, the S21 family are the first devices powered by Qualcomm’s new flagship Snapdragon 888 processor. Samsung is also promoting the S21 series’ superior screens, improved battery life and better cameras versus last year’s Galaxy S20 phones.
The Federal Communications Commission’s auction for spectrum licenses on the C-Band, a mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 4GHz, is reaching its end, and AT&T is looking to borrow $14 billion to finance its desired spectrum acquisitions. Bloomerg reports that Bank of America is leading the transaction, which is likely to be a 364-day delayed-draw term loan, with commitments due on January 2.
Experts agree that mid-band frequencies are critical for 5G usability, since they can provide both improved speeds vs 4G LTE while also providing better coverage than the superfast but extremely limited millimeter wave bands used by Verizon and AT&T. As of round 83 of the auction today, gross proceeds reached $80.86 billion, not including accelerated clearing payments and relocation costs to be paid by winners, which are estimated at $9.7 billion and $3.3 billion.
The winners of the auction won’t be known until later, but last week equity research firm Cowen estimated Verizon’s auction spend at $35 billion, AT&T at $20 billion and T-Mobile between $10-$15 billion. AT&T and Verizon are considered to be in the greatest need for this spectrum to allow them to better compete with T-Mobile.
“If T-Mobile spends less than we expect, Verizon or AT&T will likely account for the shortfall,” wrote New Street analyst Jonathan Chaplin in a note to investors Monday. “Neither company has the cash on hand to cover what we expect them to spend in the auction at present; we would expect more debt issuance for the group in coming weeks.”
The coming of 5G was supposed to change everything. But aside from tons of commercials and smartphones with a faster wireless connection and, at times, not even that the next-generation cellular technology has been a non-factor for most people. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg showed up to this year’s CES with a few real-world examples of how 5G will have an impact.
Verizon 5G and Drone control. While connecting drone deliveries Verizon is also working on this area through Skyward, a Verizon-owned business created to push cellular-connected drones. Verizon and Skyward are using 5G to connect delivery drones and are aiming to use them to deliver packages in The Villages in Florida with the help of UPS’s Flight Forward program. Vestberg said many of the drone deliveries that happened in 2020 were to transport critical supplies like medicine, but he hopes it will be broadened out. He said the only way to effectively coordinate and connect a massive number of drones in the air is through a cellular network, and 5G gives you the necessary capacity.
Verizon today announced expansions of their 5G service in several big cities. Beginning January 14, customers in parts of Arlington, TX; Miami, FL; Anaheim, CA; San Francisco, CA and St. Louis, MO can sign up for Verizon’s 5G Home Internet, with Phoenix, AZ to follow on January 28. Additionally, later this month, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service will become available in parts of Colorado Springs, CO; Columbia, SC and Knoxville, TN.
“We ended 2020 with 2,700 cities with Nationwide 5G service serving 230 million people, 61 cities with Ultra Wideband service, and 12 cities with access to our 5G Home service; and we’re not slowing down,” said Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer for Verizon. “We’re rolling out new services to more customers continuing the digital transformation Verizon has been driving.”
Verizon 5G Home Internet requires equipment specific to that service, while the 5G Ultra Wideband service will work on any of the 28 5G-capable phones and devices offered by Verizon.
T-Mobile and OnePlus have teamed up to launch a $300 5G phone, the Nord N10 5G. T-Mobile will be the exclusive US carrier for the N10, and it will be available to Metro prepaid users as well. At $300 with no promos or trade-ins needed, the N10 is T-Mobile’s most affordable 5G phone, even cheaper than the $400 Revvel 5G that debuted last year.
Unlocked versions of the N10 5G and the N100 LTE-only version will be available from OnePlus directly as well as at Best Buy, Amazon and B&H Photo Video, but Nord N10 5G will only support 5G on T-Mobile’s network.
The Nord N10 5G features a 6.49-inch 90Hz display at full HD Plus resolution and a 4,300-mAh battery. It runs on a Snapdragon 690 processor and supports 5G connectivity on T-Mobile’s low-band and midband network, which the carrier calls “Extended Range 5G” and “Ultra Capacity 5G.”
Qualcomm Incorporated known as QCOM recently unveiled the first 5G-backed 4th series mobile platform — Snapdragon 480 5G Mobile Platform. The Snapdragon 480 is to deliver best in class 5G connectivity to the mass volume, low-priced smartphone. The budget-friendly 4th series chipset line is primarily known for its robust connection and is equipped with Snapdragon X51 5G that supports 5G modes, frequencies, and spectrums at lightning speeds. Qualcomm is one of the largest manufacturers of wireless chipsets based on baseband technology.
After complaints from Verizon about a T-Mobile ad featuring Bill Nye in which T-Mobile 5G reliability is purported to be better than other carriers’, the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) asked them to stop advertising along those lines.
The ad features Nye explaining that Verizon’s 5G coverage, because it’s based on mmWave technology, has such poor range it can’t cover anything beyond the range the size of a bus stop. “Other carriers have 5G signals that drop if you move two feet. That’s because their 5G is based around millimeter wave, otherwise known as high band. For instance this is how far 5G reaches with our carriers,” Nye says in the ad, showing a small circle around a bus stop.
The NARB says T-Mobile should “discontinue claims and an accompanying demonstration that imply that other carriers’ 5G coverage is so limited in any area as to cover only the space taken up by a single bench.” The board also recommended T-Mobile “discontinue claims that imply that its 5G service is generally available in locations that have traditionally been challenging for cellular service,” and that they cannot imply that their 5G coverage is more reliable than 4G coverage.
The NARB’s recommendations are not requirements – they are a self-regulatory body with no governmental regulatory power. T-Mobile’s compliance is notable because carriers can opt to ignore the recommendations. AT&T went this route when requested to stop using its misleading “5G E” indicator added to customers’ phones earlier this year, which actually refers to their upgraded 4G network and is not 5G service.
LG’s popular mid-range Stylo series, which boasts a stylus and classic design, is rumored to soon see a 5G model added to its lineup. @OnLeaks revealed the first leak of the LG Stylo 7, including details that point to two versions being available: one with LTE-only and one with 5G.
Per the rumors, the Stylo 7 will look similar to the OnePlus Nord, with a vertical rear camera module and 6.8″ display. It is assumed that the two versions – LTE and 5G – will be essentially comparable, aside from a more powerful processor in the 5G phone. And of course, it’s almost certain there will be a premium to pay for the 5G version while the LTE model will likely be priced similarly to other Stylos.
If you are lucky enough to get a new iPhone 12 this holiday season, there are two things you need to do first get yourself a 20W USB-C power adapter and pick out the right case. The one thing you don’t need to do is changing to a more expensive wireless plan just to get 5G.
While it’s true that the new iPhone 12 is capable of mind-blowing wireless speeds thanks to its new 5G capabilities, you might not actually be able to get them. Depending on your plan and where you live, you might not be able to tap into 5G speeds under your current carrier plan, so you probably think you need to upgrade to one that does.
You don’t, at least not as of yet. While there are some benefits to 5G that can be enjoyed right now possibly faster throughput speeds, the good stuff is likely years away. Even if you live in an area that can deliver sustained speeds of 1.5Gbps thanks to a close-range millimeter-wave tower, you’re unlikely to use it for anything more than showing it off to your friends.
iPhone 12 users in New York City have reported that, counter-intuitively, speeds when their phone indicates they’re using 5G are often slower than 4G LTE. The reason for this is because in order to provide more “5G” coverage, Verizon uses a method called dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) which reuses parts of 4G channels for 5G. That allows 5G devices to connect in more places, but the performance is typically no better – and often it’s worse – than 4G LTE alone.
Verizon spokespeople have confirmed that using DSS provides no real advantages over LTE: “For most customers, performance on our 5G nationwide network will be similar to 4G. [DSS] is new technology and we’re continuing to modify it as we go. We expect performance improvement through 2021 and beyond,”
Since the iPhone 12 prioritizes 5G over 4G, if it detects a 5G signal – even if it’s really just DSS – it will automatically use that network, even though in the real world users would often be better off sticking with LTE.
If you’re in an area where 5G doesn’t seem to be any faster than LTE, you can test by turning 5G off/on and comparing speedtests. If LTE is better, you can leave 5G off until the network improves.
How to turn 5G on/off on iPhone 12:
Go to settings
Tap Cellular, then Cellular Data Options, then Voice & Data
5G Auto is the default. Choose 5G On to use it anytime it’s available, or LTE to turn off 5G.