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5G Vs. 4G LTE: What is The Difference?

5G is poised to be the next big thing in mobile internet, providing significantly faster mobile speeds than current 4G technology. While 5G won’t replace 4G immediately, it’s definitely coming and promises to provide speeds similar to Wi-Fi and even cable connections.

3G vs. 4G vs. 5G

The “G” in 5G stands for “generation”: 5G is the fifth generation of mobile broadband internet. At present, most users are on 4G networks–the current generation of mobile broadband. Some may still be using 3G, which offers peak data transfer rates of at least 200 kilobits per second, but most providers plan on phasing out 3G over the next few years.

What’s the Difference between 4G and 5G?

When you consider 4G vs. 5G, the most obvious difference is data transfer speeds. 4G and the more advanced 4G LTE technology offers speeds 500 times faster than the best 3G network. 4G LTE-A, the latest rollout in the 4G family, offers maximum speeds of 1 Gbps. Launched in the late 2000s, 4G allowed users access to HDTV on mobile devices, faster browsing, and the ability to make high-quality video calls.

Impressive though these speeds are in comparison to 3G, 4G and 4G LTE are slowly becoming obsolete thanks to the emergence of the Internet of Things, where everything from televisions and cars to refrigerators and coffee machines can connect online. It’s estimated over 20 billion connected devices will be consuming bandwidth by 2020. Simply put, 4G isn’t designed to handle that much traffic.

When you compare 5G speed vs. 4G, 4G is left behind in the dust. 5G is expected to provide peak data transfer speeds of 100 gigabits per second. That’s not only 100 times faster than 4G–such speed also beats the best home broadband networks.

Latency is the time between when data is sent from one device and when it can be used by a receiving device. 5G latency is so low users will be able to use their mobile connection as a viable replacement for Wi-Fi and cable connections. This will increase upload and download speeds, improve video calls even more, and allow users to watch 4K video on mobile devices without buffering.

What Stands in the Way of 5G Networks?


A number of factors have slowed down the rollout of 5G networks. Both network providers and government agencies need to invest in 5G infrastructure, which costs significant amounts of money. While 4G LTE can operate on cell phone towers built miles apart, 5G requires multiple smaller cell towers closer together. Such towers may wind up on top of street lights and the sides of buildings in urban centers and may be as common as every few hundred feet.

Security is also a risk. With more users and devices connected to the network, the risk of hacking threats increases. Citing security concerns, the United States banned Huawei, a Chinese 5G technology giant, from developing 5G networks in the USA in 2019, a decision that has by necessity slowed 5G adoption.

4G vs. 5G Phones

Despite these drawbacks, 5G is coming, with providers launching live 5G networks in select areas. To access 5G networks, you’ll need a phone capable of supporting the new networks. A number of phone companies are launching 5G-compatible devices over the course of 2019, including the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the Motorola Moto Z3, and the LG V50 ThinQ. Apple has yet to announce plans for a 5G-compatible iPhone, but the company is known for waiting before adopting new cellular technologies.

Can I Access 4G on a 5G Phone?

While the two networks are incompatible, the first 5G devices on the market will also support 4G networks, so people can purchase the phones while on 4G and trade up to 5G when networks come available. In other words, you can safely purchase a 5G phone and use it on your existing 4G network.