Don’t Upgrade Your Phone For 5G

Galaxy S23

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There are lots of reasons to upgrade your phone to a shiny new one. You might want to test out what’s new in camera technology. Maybe you want a 120Hz display or to see just how fast that new processor is or you are out of storage. Maybe your battery has degraded and you need a phone that can last a day or that has faster charging. Maybe you want an S Pen! All of those are probably reason enough to get a new phone like the Galaxy S23.

You know what isn’t a reason to buy one? 5G. If a mobile industry head from a carrier, smartphone company, or chipmaker stands before you and tells you just how fast 5G is on their new phone, your brain should immediately wander into what your plans for dinner are that night. Because their 5G spiel is almost meaningless in the grand scheme of it all.

Not that I think any of you buy a new phone because of the theoretical speeds of 5G (2Gbps!), but the folks at Ookla released a report this morning that really hammers home the point here.

Ookla put together an early comparison of the 5G performance across the globe for the Galaxy S23 series, with the Galaxy S23 Ultra and Galaxy S23+ a part of it. The phone series they compared Samsung’s newest to was the Galaxy S22 line.

The report’s immediate takeaway is that “the Samsung S23 models only statistically outperformed corresponding S22 models,” but that one day in the future, with further 5G adoption, things could improve. From there, we are treated to a country-by-country breakdown of the two phone series and whether or not the S23 has improved over its predecessor. In some countries there were minor speed bumps, others showed the S22 holding a lead, and most showed almost no difference.

Weirdly, the Ookla report has a recommendation section at the end of each country’s report. While I’m not sure why Ookla is recommending phone upgrades to people, in almost all of the countries, they were mostly left telling people that jumping from the Galaxy S22 to the Galaxy S23 would only be worth it if you are in love with the hardware upgrades (like processor, storage, battery, and camera), not because of 5G.

For the US, here is the full recommendation:

U.S. Samsung Galaxy S22 users shouldn’t hesitate to upgrade to the S23 models, especially for the new features and hardware — particularly if you want the S23 Ultra’s 200 MP camera. With 5G networks increasingly getting faster, we suspect the S23 models have yet to see their full potential in the U.S., too.

We definitely wouldn’t suggest you ever upgrade to a new phone based on future 5G potential. If you want a dramatic improvement in battery life, yeah, feel free to upgrade. If you want a 200MP camera – go for it. For a 5% boost in 5G speeds? Nah.



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