The new high-speed service is already available in most major cities and metro areas. The technology is being rolled out worldwide, with very few phone brands that haven’t yet jumped on the bandwagon. You can find our breakdown on the best 5G phones here. In this Canstar Blue guide, we will run through what 5G is and whether it is worth getting your hands on the new tech.
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What is 5G?
5G is the next generation of mobile network technology being rolled out across the country and worldwide by major carriers. 5G data speeds are super fast, potentially offering download speeds of one gigabit per second (1 Gbps) or faster, but it’s still in the early days. Maximum 5G speeds are theoretically faster than those offered by the NBN, which offers potential speeds up to 1Gbps. This is why some have labelled 5G as an NBN killer, although it’s more of a complement to NBN than a total replacement.
What are the benefits of 5G?
5G has two key benefits for consumers in their day-to-day smartphone usage.
- Network Capacity: 5G is projected to have a bandwidth able to accommodate up to 100x more network traffic than previous technology. This means that being unable to use your phone for even the most simple tasks at a crowded event should be a thing of the past.
- Speed: It is predicted that 5G has the potential to deliver speeds of up to 20Gbps, with a minimum of 100Mbps. Therefore, 5G gives consumers access to the fastest speeds yet and a more seamless browsing and streaming experience.
Is 5G better than 4G?
The short answer is yes, 5G is better than 4G. Theoretically, 5G is going to be capable of reaching speeds 20 times faster than 4G, reducing lag on video calls, making it quicker to send and receive texts and have a smoother social media scrolling experience.
Of course, 5G hasn’t finished being rolled out across the country yet, so if you don’t live in an area where 5G signals exist, 4G is going to work just fine for now.
Can I use a 5G phone on the 4G network?
Yes! Even if you live in an area that doesn’t yet have access to 5G, if your device is 5G-enabled, you will still be able to use it on the 4G network.
The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB iPhone 15 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB Samsung Galaxy S23 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
The following table shows a selection of 24-month 128GB Google Pixel 7 plans on Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of standard monthly cost, from the lowest to highest and then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see plans from a range of other providers. This is a selection of products with links to a referral partner.
Should I get a 5G phone?
There are a couple of things that you should consider when making a purchase decision.
Depending on where you live, you may already be able to access the 5G network. However, as the technology is still being rolled out, it may be a while before you’re able to connect, especially for customers in more remote areas. Therefore, if you’re not even able to access it yet, having a phone that is not 5G-enabled isn’t going to make a difference.
Telstra has confirmed, however, that it aims to cover 95% of the population with its 5G network by mid-2025, with Optus and Vodafone having similar plans to expand coverage, so being prepared and having a phone that is 5G-enabled isn’t a bad idea.
Keep in mind that even if you’re not yet covered by 5G, you’ll still be able to use 5G-ready phones on your telco’s 4G and 3G networks. Therefore, if you’re eyeing a particular 5G phone, but don’t live in an area that is covered by 5G yet, you can still use your device at 4G speeds.
New phones are not necessarily a cheap investment, even with the variety of offers out there. However, as networks roll out and more manufacturers adopt 5G technology, phones with 5G capabilities are becoming much more affordable.
Premium phones now generally come with 5G as standard, and many mid-range devices also offer 5G connectivity. But more basic and budget phones still tend to stick to 4G-only.
If you don’t need to urgently upgrade, or you have a limited budget, you won’t be missing out on too much by sticking with 4G for the time being. But if you do want to splash a little more cash, and want a more future-proof smartphones, you can find 5G-ready phones from around $300-$350 outright.
The last thing that is important to consider is what you actually use your phone for. If you are an avid social media user and regularly use your phone for activities that require super-fast speeds and reliable network connections, a 5G phone may be the best option for you. However, if you’re more of a light phone user, or only really use it to make calls and receive texts, a 5G phone may not be worth it for now.
Overall, the decision whether to get a 5G phone or not is entirely yours. If you live in an area where 5G signals exist, you need a super-fast phone signal and have the budget to do so, it may be worth considering a phone that does have 5G capabilities. Otherwise, a 4G phone will still do the job.