One of the biggest talking points about the iPhone 12 launch was 5G. Apple took to the stage to say that 5G just got real, and Verizon was the flavor of the month as Apple’s hero network for 5G. It’s clear that Apple is betting on 5G with the new iPhone 12 series, as all four models support 5G.
There are two main types of 5G networks referenced by Apple: Sub-6GHz and Ultra-WideBand NR (New Radio). The former is designed for less dense areas where coverage, not speed is the problem that 5G aims to solve, and is the backbone of all carrier’s “nationwide” 5G networks in the States, as well as almost every country’s 5G network.
5G Ultra-wideband (5G UWB) is designed for more densely populated areas like football stadiums, airports, and concert venues. Here the problem is that there isn’t enough capacity and the network is so congested that it isn’t usable. 5G UWB solves this with tons of capacity but mmWave technology has its own problems; mainly, the need for line-of-sight. 5G UWB can achieve speeds in excess of 2Gbps per second in our testing, but only works when you’re stood directly in the line-of-sight of the antenna. Trying to catch those fast speeds but there’s a window in the way? Sorry, it won’t work.
Exactly what you get depends on where you are based. In most countries around the world, all four models of the iPhone 12 series support just the Sub-6Ghz networks. In the US (and presumably other countries that have mmWave networks), the iPhone 12 series will feature mmWave support.
Verizon’s current mmWave network in the US is fairly limited in coverage, but the company is improving this with more capacity, antennas, and new markets being added all the time. During the iPhone 12 launch, Verizon announced a new 5G nationwide network based on Sub-6GHz, but crucially, the doubling of capacity on the insanely fast mmWave network in key cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Verizon also plans to bring mmWave to an additional 5 cities by the end of the year taking the full total to 60 cities. Verizon and Apple’s push for 5G is the primary reason why the iPhone 12 will likely be the catalyst to 5G becoming mainstream.
The iPhone 12 series comes with custom 5G antennas and radio components to help the iPhone target what network works best. More importantly, it has the most 5G bands on any phone and has been optimized for over 100 carriers in 30 regions. The OS is also optimized to use with 5G only when needed to save power and there is a Smart data mode that will select 5G only when it’s needed. It extends battery life by intelligently assessing 5G needs and balancing data usage, speed, and power in real-time.
Unlike most other 5G phones on the market, supporting a wide variety of global bands means that the iPhone 12 5G is likely going to be the best 5G phone in the world. With most other 5G phones, they only support the necessary bands to work with 5G in a specific region. Apple has presumably resolved that and it should mean that when you travel – and your carrier supports 5G roaming – your iPhone 12 should have the pieces to connect to a 5G network in your destination country.
Regardless of which iPhone 12 you buy – and you can see the best pricing in our iPhone 12 deals round-up – the iPhone 12 has all the 5G support you could hope for. Some of the benefits you can expect include improved speeds for faster downloads and uploads, higher quality video streaming, more responsive gaming, real-time interactivity in apps, and FaceTime in high definition. All that’s left is AR Kit and all the crazy experiences that 5G will make possible on the iPhone 12.
The iPhone 12 series is not just the most advanced 5G phone on the market, it also has a choice of screen sizes, the addition of a telephoto camera and LIDAR sensor in the iPhone 12 Pro range, a new OLED Super Retina XDR display on all four models and the Apple A14 Bionic processor. Clearly, Apple is up for a fight, and the iPhone 12 series are all equipped with everything you could need for whatever life may throw at you.