What is 5G?
5G is the latest standard for getting onto the Internet with your smartphone. It follows previous standards 3G and 4G. Most major mobile phone networks offer 5G services, and if you’re somewhere where there isn’t 5G coverage, your iPhone can still use older 3G and 4G networks too.
The new 5G standard is much faster than previous cellular technologies, making downloads faster, video streaming more reliable and online gaming snappier. It’s also much better at coping when there are lots of devices close by, all accessing cellular data networks at once. We’ve all had problems going online with mobile devices when in a crowd, right? With 5G, this is much less of a problem.
5G Gets Real
Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon, has worked in mobile networking for over a quarter of a century. He took the stage at Apple’s keynote to talk about Apple’s partnership with its mobile providers and how it helps iPhone users.
According to Vestberg, Verizon’s 5G ultra-wide band networks – which are now available to iPhone 12-series owners – are twice as fast as before, with download speeds of up to four Gbps (gigabits per second). Under ideal conditions, upload speeds will reach 200 Mbps (megabits per second) too.
Vestberg also explained how 5G will also reduce problems caused by network congestion, which occurs when too many people in too small an area try to access cellular networks. With 5G, it will be far easier to go online from shopping centres, sports stadiums, airports and other such venues. Latency is reduced too, almost eliminating annoying lag times when playing multiplayer games.
Of course, the figures offered by Vestberg are unique to Verizon, though other networks’ 5G networks offer a similar speed increase and performance.
The Test Rooms
Apple has 50 world-class anechoic testing chambers, used to develop advanced wireless technologies such as the iPhone’s 5G capabilities. An anechoic chamber is a room designed to be non-reflective, non-echoing and echo-free; all sound and electromagnetic waves are absorbed, and none are bounced around the room. Free from distractions, a device’s performance can be accurately assessed.
Using these anechoic test rooms, Apple was able to benchmark several 5G antennas and work out which was the best ones to use in the iPhone. As well as being space efficient, the chosen ariels have the most bands in any 5G phone. Apple’s top-to-bottom approach to software means its apps, firmware and more are all optimised to take advantage of the antenna and its 5G speeds without drawing more power.
Another feature developed in Apple’s test rooms is Smart Data Mode. When your iPhone doesn’t need the extra performance offered by 5G, it automatically switches it off to save battery. When 5G speeds matter again, it’s switched back on.