What Will 5G Mean for the iPhone’s Future?

2 min read
Jun 20, 2018

Last May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave Apple permission to experiment with the next generation of wireless technology. The fifth generation of mobile networks hasn’t been built yet, but one can imagine what benefits it will bring to Apple’s iPhone. Anything could change between now and 2019 when 5G will reach large-scale deployments, but experts and industry insiders have some pretty good ideas about how the updated technology could change how the iPhone works.

5G Will Give the iPhone Access to More Bandwidth

One of the most important aspects of 5G is that the technology will introduce 28 and 39 GHz bands to wireless networks. The FCC designated 28 and 39 GHz bands for commercial use in 2016. By adding these bands to its network, Apple will increase speeds and reduce latency.

You don’t need a degree in engineering to see that adding more bands would make a 5G iPhone faster than 4G versions. If you add lanes on a highway, you ease congestion so cars can move faster. Adding new bands works in a similar way.

How Quickly Could a 5G iPhone Download Data?

The 4G technology that most people currently use can transmit about one GB per second. Unfortunately, you rarely have a chance to see 4G networks work as quickly as possible because buildings, WiFi signals and other things block its signals. To extend the highway analogy, cars can’t move as fast as possible because they keep bumping into each other and getting stuck in traffic jams during rush hour.

According to standards established by the International Telecommunication Union (UTI), a 5G iPhone could theoretically download 20 GB per second. In reality, you should expect to see your 5G phone reach speeds closer to five GB per second.

The slower speed comes from how mobile base stations and smartphones communicate. UTI’s standard says that a 5G network will need a 20 GB per second downlink. As more traffic connects to mobile stations, though, the connection gets divided among more devices.

A 5G Network Can Handle More Traffic

The good news is that a 5G network will also have the ability to support more users. UTI says that the upcoming network should support one million devices per square mile. Since the network will have the capability to connect with more devices without increasing latency, 5G iPhone owners should experience fewer dropped calls and faster connections.

The one million devices will include more than smartphones and tablets. UTI and other experts expect the Internet of Things to become more prominent by 2019. Assuming that objects like traffic lights, vehicles and home automation systems will use different bands than smartphones, they shouldn’t interfere much with phone connections.

No one knows precisely how this will work, but you can expect to see companies like Apple fight for independent channels that will make 5G technology faster and more reliable for smartphone users.

Overall, expanding the network’s ability to handle more traffic should benefit everyone using wireless devices. Hopefully, the expansion will help new iPhones stay connected during peak times when today’s 4G networks experience significant strain.

You will hear a lot of theories about 5G networks over the next few years. Apple’s intention to experiment with the new technology shows that the company wants to make the most of faster speeds and expanded bands. Apple and other tech companies probably won’t reveal what they’ve discovered until the end of 2018, though. Until then, try to differentiate between cautious optimism and wild speculation.

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