Should you buy a 5G smartphone today?

Well, that’s a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’

While the launch of blazing-fast 5G networks is yet to take place in India, we first have to get done with spectrum auctions.

It’s only after the auctions that operators like Vodafone, Jio and Airtel can go ahead with deploying their 5G networks in India. And only after this deployment you will see the ‘5G’ symbol (instead of 4G/LTE) in your smartphone’s status bar, provided you have a phone that is 5G-enabled, of course!

Is 5G any faster?

Don’t worry about 5G deployment in India, as it is still about two years away. And even when it shows up, you won’t get the blazing fast fibre broadband-like speeds out here in India, solely because India has opted for a slower 5G standard (Sub 6GHz). Which is why you should sit down and wonder whether the switch from 4G to 5G will be worthwhile, because the difference in data speeds won’t be drastically different.

EXPLAINER: What is 5G and how is it going to be different in India?

So should I buy a 5G smartphone today? Or when 5G arrives in India?

That solely depends on two factors:

  • Do you have the money to buy a pricier than usual 5G smartphone?
  • Does the smartphone brand you plan to invest in offer a non-5G (4G) variant of the phone you want to buy?


Reasons why you should NOT buy a 5G smartphone today

There’s no network!

5G smartphones today are mostly reserved for the premium segment. And some manufacturers are demanding higher price tags for a hardware feature that has no network to hook up to just yet (or even for another year at the minimum). So investing in a 5G smartphone in India today clearly makes little sense.

There’s no added value

More so, because you don’t have 5G networks operational right now (and won’t be for a year). So that higher than usual price you pay for a 5G device will not have any value at all. If a non-5G or 4G variant of the device is available with the same specs and costs a lot lower, go for it!!!

Don’t upgrade solely for 5G

Upgrading from a 4G smartphone that’s just a year old makes little sense right now unless you are getting better camera performance, gaming performance or a faster display. A good example here is the OnePlus 8 as it offers little in the form of value over the OnePlus 7T. Upgrading solely because of 5G makes no sense right now.

5G is not the standard… yet

As of today, 5G is not the standard. Which is why we have 5G and 4G variants of some flagships. Some manufacturers like OnePlus took the dive and went ‘5G-only’ even if the price tags went up, while others like Realme (somehow) managed to keep the price tags in control. Once it becomes the norm (like 4G is today), every smartphone will have it and those smartphones will not have an additional ‘5G price tag’ or label attached to it.

Reason why you should buy a 5G smartphone when 5G networks go live

Lower prices

Since 5G will become the next standard after 4G, price tags will come down and you won’t have to pay a premium price to make your new phone futureproof. Everything from budget smartphones to mid-rangers and premium devices will pack in 5G radios.

Better upgrades

Since smartphone technology, be it cameras or performance, jumps by the year, it makes better sense to upgrade to a much faster phone a year or two later and hold on to your existing flagship right now.

If you still plan on buying a 5G smartphone today...

5G is not everything

Well, yes! 5G isn’t everything. When purchasing a 5G smartphone today, you need to keep in mind that it gets you something more, apart from getting you 5G radios. With any 5G smartphone you buy today, check for the following:

  • Do you get a performance bump compared to the 4G variant?
  • Does it offer a better camera that’s worthy of that 5G price tag?
  • Does it offer regular software updates that will keep your smartphone running smooth till the time 5G networks arrive (that’s a year or two)?
  • At the least, does it offer more RAM and storage that will make it future-proof in terms of performance?
  • Does it offer an IP rating? Given that most 5G phones today are expensive and most phones in a year or two from today will have some sort of water and dust resistance.

There’s no 5G price tag to it

This basically states the above. If your current phone does not check any of the above checkboxes, you are solely paying up for 5G radios inside it – one that, as of today, just cannot be used. Making your smartphone selection, pointless.

Want to know more about 5G? Click on the links below:

Premium 5G smartphones in India

What is 5G and how is it going to be different in India?