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Technology Is There a 5G Cellular Network Near You?

14:22  22 april  2020
14:22  22 april  2020 Source:   consumerreports.org

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  Is There a 5G Cellular Network Near You? © Provided by Consumers Union of United States, Inc.

The speedy 5G network service we've been hearing about hasn't quite swept the nation, but its footprint grows larger by the month.

All the major U.S. carriers now have some form of consumer 5G service up and running. And smartphone makers continue to announce new devices.

Samsung's three new flagship Galaxy S20 phones come standard with 5G, as does LG's V60 ThinQ 5G. And while those are premium phones with prices to match, manufacturers are set to roll out more affordable models, too, including some that will cost less than $500, partly thanks to new, cheaper 5G chips.

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According to telecommunications experts, 5G speeds—five times faster than 4G connections at peak performance—will eventually allow users to download a movie in just 5 seconds.

The technology will also pave the way for the instantaneous response times required to safely perform robotic surgery and operate self-driving cars that communicate with other vehicles and road infrastructure.

But while experts say 5G networks made tremendous progress in 2019, they still have a long way to go to reach those lofty goals. And that's what 2020 is all about.

"We're in a phase right now where there's a lot of hype around 5G," said Phil Solis, a tech analyst for the market research firm IDC. "But the reality doesn't match the hype just yet." 

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Here's a rundown on the 5G service of the major carriers and the latest 5G-compatible phones.

5G Networks

AT&T

After months of offering 5G service only to select customers, AT&T's consumer network now covers 100 markets across the country, including smaller cities like Kalamazoo, Mich.; Worth, Ga.; and Erie, Pa.

The company says it will soon offer 5G service to customers of its budget-priced Cricket Wireless subsidiary with compatible phones and plans.

Though AT&T says it won't charge extra for 5G service, you have to sign up for the Unlimited Extra or Unlimited Elite plans to access it.

Phone options: AT&T currently sells all three of the Samsung Galaxy S20 phones, along with the Galaxy Note10+ 5G and LG V60 ThinQ 5G.

Sprint

While Sprint and T-Mobile have officially merged, it's going to be a while before they combine their 5G networks. Sprint currently has 5G service up and running in parts of Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Kansas City, Kan., Los Angeles; New York City; Phoenix; and Washington, D.C.

To get 5G service in those cities, you need to sign up for the carrier’s Unlimited Premium plan, which at $85 for one line is the company’s most expensive option.

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Phone options: Sprint currently carries the trio of Samsung Galaxy S20 phones. 

T-Mobile

T-Mobile launched what it's calling the first "nationwide 5G network" in December 2019. And access to that network is included in all of the company's service plans.

T-Mobile says the network covers more than 200 million people in more than 5,000 cities and towns across the U.S. But that still leaves significant portions of the population without 5G connections.

The company's previous network, which launched over the summer, operated in parts of Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. But it ran on a high-band spectrum, and as a result, the 5G signal didn't have the same ability to travel through walls and other common obstacles.

T-Mobile says that won't be a problem with the new network, which operates on the 600MHz low-band spectrum. Those signals aren't stopped by such obstructions.

Phone options: For the new nationwide network, T-Mobile is selling the three new Samsung S20 phones, the LG V60, and the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren. It also will start selling the OnePlus 8 on April 29.

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Verizon

The carrier’s 5G service has officially started in parts of 34 markets across the country, including Chicago; Miami; Little Rock, Ark.; and Sioux Falls, S.D. 

To get it, you have to sign up for one of the company's Play More, Do More, or Get More unlimited plans, which start at $80 for one line. 

Phone options: Verizon carries the Samsung Galaxy S20+, S20 Ultra, and Note10+ 5G, along with the LG V60 and Motorola Moto Z4. It also will carry the OnePlus 8 Pro when it goes on sale April 29.

5G Phones

Samsung

The U.S. versions of Samsung's newest flagship phones—the Galaxy S20, S20+, and S20 Ultra—all come with 5G standard.

The phones, which start at $1,000 for an S20, feature slightly larger displays, new optical zoom lenses, and larger batteries. Consumer Reports will have test results soon. 

The Note10+ 5G, which launched in August 2019, is still being sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Starting at $1,300, it features a 6.8-inch display and the Note line’s trademark stylus.

Samsung says it plans to launch 5G versions of its new Galaxy A51 and A71 phones later this year. Those phones will start at $500 and $600, respectively. 

LG

The LG V60 ThinQ 5G, which sells for about $900, is available through AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. 

It has a 6.8-inch display, can shoot video in 8K, and features an optional attachable dual screen. Consumer Reports' test results are coming soon. 

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Motorola

To be compatible with 5G, the Moto Z4, which went on sale through Verizon last June, requires a $350 Mod attachment that's sold separately.

The phone, which retails for $500, boasts a 6.4-inch OLED display and an ample 3600mAh battery.

OnePlus

T-Mobile will carry the OnePlus 8 and Verizon will sell the OnePlus 8 Pro when the phones go on sale April 29. Consumer Reports' test results will follow soon after. 

The 8 and 8 Pro will start at $700 and $900, respectively. Both models include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 processor (also found in the Samsung Galaxy S20 phones) and displays that the manufacturer says will be sharper and more color-accurate.

The 8 Pro also features a quad-camera setup that includes a 48MP main camera and another with a 3X optical zoom lens. It's powered by a 4510mAh battery.

T-Mobile also sells the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren, which CR hasn't tested.

TCL

During the CES trade show in January, TCL, known best for TVs, announced its first 5G smartphone: the TCL 10 5G. The model, which will cost less than $500, is slated to reach the U.S. around September. 

Touted by TCL as "the people's 5G phone," the 10 5G will be powered by Qualcomm's new 7-Series 5G chip, which is geared toward lower-priced 5G devices. The model also will have four rear cameras and a high-quality LCD display.

Coolpad

This company, which makes smartwatches for kids, also announced a 5G phone—for adults—during CES. Coolpad says it will have a starting price of less than $400.

Also set to go on sale in the second quarter of this year, the phone, which doesn't appear to have an official name just yet, will include the new Qualcomm 5G chip, have a 6.5-inch display, and be powered by a 4000mAh battery.

Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2020, Consumer Reports, Inc.

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