5G iPhone launch nears, but almost 50% think they already have 5G

Apple is expected to launch a 5G iPhone at its Tuesday event; however, almost half of iPhone users already think their phone is 5G-capable.

That’s according to a survey from network testing company Global Wireless Solutions (GWS). Results from 5,000 adult respondents between June 16 and July 3 show that 49% of iPhone users believed they already have 5G.

In general, 29% of consumers were unsure if their current smartphone supports 5G and 38% don’t know if their carrier has 5G coverage in their area.

Just over three-quarters are either “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in 5G, and little more than half (53%) expect to experience meaningful benefits from 5G year either this year or some time in 2021.   

With marketing confusion about 5G coverage and benefits it might not be that surprising many consumers are unsure if they have 5G device.

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Still, the pool of 5G devices is growing its share of total smartphones sold. Counterpoint Research shows that 5G smartphones made up 14% of all U.S. smartphone sales in August, a sharp jump from just 3% at the start of 2020.

Verizon had sold more than half of the roughly 4.1 million 5G phones in the U.S. as of August, based on 5G smartphone adoption tracking by M Science.

Once Apple finally does come out with a 5G-capable smartphone, rumored to be called iPhone 12, increased adoption could follow suit.

Counterpoint Research Director Jeff Fieldhack expects the biggest shift toward 5G smartphone uptake to happen after the iPhone launch.

“Apple has a market share of around 40% or higher in the US. When Apple begins selling 5G iPhones, this will sharply increase the market share of 5G devices on a monthly sell-through basis. Overall, we expect 5G smartphones to make up around 20% of total sales in 2020,” stated Fieldhack.

The teaser for Apple’s October 13 event was “Hi, Speed.”  

Apple could unveil a phone that supports short-range high-capacity millimeter wave frequencies for 5G, like Verizon has rolled out using in limited parts of cities across the country using 28 GHz. It also could support sub-6 GHz for T-Mobile’s mid-band 2.5 GHz and low-band 600 MHz, as well as AT&T’s nationwide low-band.  

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All three of the major carriers eventually plan to use a mix of spectrum bands for 5G to deliver speed and coverage, but have pursued different deployment strategies.

In terms of 5G smartphone tally, all of the nationwide carriers’ websites are promoting around the same number of phones (though versions might vary depending on the different spectrum bands each is using for 5G), which at last check was around 15.

The lion’s share of 5G phones have come from Samsung. This year that includes its Galaxy S20 released in February, Note20 series launched in August, and less expensive Galaxy A71 and A51 5G.  

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Here are some other 5G smartphone phone options carriers recently started offering.

  • Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. The "Fan Edition" is the least expensive version of the S20 family and retails for $799.99. It’s available at all three nationwide carriers as of October 2. The phone can tap AT&T’s low-band nationwide 5G network, and T-Mobile’s 600 MHz and mid-band 2.5 GHz frequencies. The UW or Ultrawideband version from Verizon is mmWave-capable and will also support nationwide 5G that the carrier has promised but hasn’t launched yet.  
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G, the foldable smartphone has a 7.6-inch display when open and costs $1,999.99.  
  • LG Velvet 5G was exclusive to T-Mobile first but is now available at AT&T and Verizon. Verizon’s version supports both mmWave and sub-6 GHz. LG’s V60 ThinQ 5G debuted in March.
  • Motorola razr 5G launched this fall and is a next-generation version to the beloved razr flip phones of years past. It has a $1,399.99 price tag, available at AT&T and T-Mobile.

Verizon customers can preorder the LG Wing, which touts the first 5G “swivel” smartphone design, and the Google Pixel 5. Preorders for the Pixel 4a 5G start October 29. AT&T will carry the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G this fall, but hasn’t announced pricing or availability. T-Mobile also plans to offer the Pixel 4a.