It may not feel that way, but we're at the beginning of a new era: 5G is (finally) here, even if it's in a limited way. Verizon and its competitors worked hard to struggle back while the first wave of 5G cellular sites in some markets across the country was installed.
As technology companies are accustomed to say, it's early days for 5G. The networks are almost everywhere, and just a few devices can even access the networks.
One of the devices is the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. Samsung announced the device in February, along with that S10e, S10, and S10 Plus. While the other S10 variants have been sold for a few months, Samsung has kept the S10 5G Start Verizon's network in Chicago. (AT&T will sell the S10 5G later this year.)
Required reading: Sprint 5G: Test Sprint's new network in Dallas
Can the experience lead to the marketing hypermarket? We are here to tell you in our Verizon Wireless 5G hands-on.
Set the Verizon 5G stage
Before we get caught up in the shock and awe of raw 5G speed, there's a background worth discussing.
Verizon relies on mmWave spectrum in the 28GHz band for its 5G service. A massive 400MHz channel sits in Verizon's 5G band to make traffic move, and it still has 400MHz in its wings. Today's LTE 4G networks offer only a quarter of that capacity, and even only with multiple carrier grips that switch smaller channels. AT&T uses the 39GHz band for its high band mmWave 5G, while Sprint relies on its 2.5 GHz midband spectrum. T-Mobile will start its 600MHz lower band spectrum initially this year. mmWave is another animal when compared to 2.5GHz or 600MHz, another animal altogether.
The wavelengths are much smaller and can be directed or interrupted by just about anything. This makes it harder for the phone to talk to the phone and vice versa. The standard bodies and engineers of mmWave 5G set up incredibly complex algorithms to help use phones and cellular websites to use the mishmash of original, bounced, and redirected cell signals.
These algorithms are constantly evolving, according to Mike Haberman, VP of Network Engineering for Verizon, and that has allowed Verizon to dramatically improve 5G performance over the past few weeks since launch. For example, peak download speed over the network has already doubled due to updated algorithms. Most importantly, the algorithm updates can be pushed to the devices and cell sites for immediate improvements.
Peak download speed over Verizon's 5G network has already doubled since its launch.
In short, this is why our 5G experience in Chicago was slightly different from that very first wave of those who tested it on the launch day.
To be careful
The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is an incredibly beautiful piece of hardware. We initially looked it back in February and can say that the final shipping form is a luxury little kit. The silver model is especially glamorous. And that 6.7-inch AMOLED. Wow.
The S10 5G is the first smart phone with integrated 5G sold by Verizon. Owners of the Verizon brand Motorola Moto Z3 and Z4 allows their devices with 5G service via the 5G Moto Mod if they desire it. The S10 built in 5G.
Verizon's 5G service is highly located in Chicago. The company took us on a tour of downtown Chicago and hit a solid number of 5G nodes in different neighborhoods in the central business district.
In contrast to the modern cell towers, which are long standing, the 5G knots are much closer to the ground. They are mostly located on lanterns or equivalent poles next to the pavement.
These are the basic 5G ingredients.
Sprinting here and there
With the Galaxy S10 5G, I reached a maximum peak download speed of 1.256Gbps. It's about the fastest speed the network has achieved so far, according to Verizon. It's hard to describe how fast it is and what you can do with it.
The best results needed within about 30 meters of the 5G node.
To put it in a context, I could download 50 minute sections of Stranger Things in about 12 seconds each. Two-hour movie just downloaded 48 seconds. PUBG Mobile, already 1.85 GB of it, only took 12 seconds to download from the Galaxy App Store. Twelve. Seconds.
These highlights are phenomenal. But like the exciting tracks you see every night at the Sports Center, there's a very everyday game between the definite action shots.
I performed speed tests across Chicago. The average download speed over my results was 594Mbps, and this is more or less similar to what Verizon registers on the network.
It is interesting to compare these results with those generated Sprint's brand new 5G network. Sprint says its highest speed to date is 1.1Gbps, but I've never seen anything higher than 690Mbps personally. In addition, the average speed on Sprint's network was one-third of Verizon's approximately 190Mbps. The big difference between the two is availability.
In Chicago, I had to see the 5G nodes line, to get any Ultra Wideband service from Verizon smooth. If I say of the place, I mean to stand within 30 meters of the knot and have it clear. To move a corner or drag in a door, the 5G link can break completely. On the other hand, I've never seen a Sprint 5G cell site during my time in Dallas. Entering buildings or traveling in buses and cars had no effect on availability or speed of Sprint's 5G service.
Don't get excited about uploads. There is no such thing as uploading content via 5G just yet. Instead, Verizon's 5G devices fall back to the company's LTE 4G network. This means you can expect average upload speeds of 8 Mbps to 15 Mbps.
The statistics I've seen this week are a snapshot of time. Judging the first phones on the first networks hardly scratch 5G's potential. If 5G was just about speed, it would indeed be a boring story.
Verizon's Haberman says the company really just started rolling the ball. Now that the basics are in place, true innovation can begin. In addition to accelerating speed, Verizon focuses on its network's network, reducing latency, and more. Haberman pointed out things like self-guided cars.
"Autonomous vehicles are actually expensive ioT devices. Wouldn't it be cool if the decision making in the cloud or on the cell phone was done instead of the car itself?" Haberman said. "And what was accessible as a neighborhood camera in the area for the network? The vehicle can see a" "real-time feed from other cars approaching the same intersection of various angles and deciding whether or not it goes through the intersection. "This is a 5G vision.
For now, consumers can have a different vision. I think the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which is a sultry device with or without 5G. You can grab it from Verizon for a cool $ 1,299 for 256GB or $ 1,399 for 512GB.