What a difference they can make a few weeks. Last month, I came to Chicago for the launch of Verizon's 5G network, which is now available both here and in Minneapolis. The inaugural 5G device was the Moto Z3 equipped with Motorola's MotoGod 5G, and my experience, and that of many other tech journalists, was less than positive: 5G coverage was extremely difficult to find. The speeds were noticeably faster than those of LTE, but not perversely.
But today marks the launch of the $ 1,400 Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, which will shortly be an exclusive Verizon before moving to other companies. And now that there is a real and correct 5G phone in your network, Verizon has increased things. Coverage remains extremely limited: it varies widely and block by block.
But when you find a good place, it's amazing. I just did a speed test that crossed 1 Gbps, and my mind is frankly a bit lost. This is in the real world, where my iPhone XS Max barely reaches 20 Mbps in the same place.
Download speeds in Verizon's 5G network now feel like a next-generation leap over current LTE performance. Going over 700 Mbps is very typical, and crossing that gigabit marker can happen regularly if you are near one of the operator's 5G nodes, which uses millimeter wave technology to achieve faster download speeds.
I'm still walking around Chicago and trying things out, but here are some quick tests I did:
- The pilot episode of The Office downloaded from Netflix in "high" quality in eight seconds. That is not a typo.
- I downloaded Marvel's Iron Man 2 from the Amazon Prime video application with the best quality in 90 seconds.
I downloaded Iron Man 2 from Prime Video with the best quality in 90 seconds. You can see here that the Verizon network occasionally dropped to 4G LTE. I'm right across the street from node 5G. pic.twitter.com/TAh2YgmzwD
– Chris Welch (@chriswelch) May 16, 2019
When looking at download speeds, you should also keep in mind what is in another side . Are the servers and CDNs of your favorite broadcast services optimized for this level of mobile network performance? For broadband at home, maybe. But we are entering a new era of potential for devices in our pocket.
Let me balance that emotion a bit: the deployment of 5G will take years before we reach the same saturation and coverage coverage that currently exists with LTE. Millimeter wave technology alone will not be enough: indoor coverage in Verizon's 5G network is basically non-existent, and that's a major problem. And for now, the charges are still limited to LTE on Verizon's 5G network. The connection with the Galaxy S10 5G is not yet compatible (at speeds of 5G), which is annoying.
Speeds decrease rapidly as you move through the block from any 5G node, and the 5G signal disappears basically once you lose the line of sight. Disconcertingly, the 5G icon only appears when your phone is actively using data. At all other times, it shows 4G. This makes it difficult to know exactly when it is coming out of a 5G coverage area. How convenient for a very young network! And as impressive as these speeds are, remember that at this moment there is hardly anyone in the Verizon 5G network. What will happen to those 1Gbps speed tests once people start buying 5G devices in significant quantities? All this is to say that buying a $ 1,400 phone like the Galaxy S10 5G when coverage is still so irregular still seems silly to me.
But damn it's fast. And these speeds that Verizon is reaching in Chicago and Minneapolis are only going to put pressure on the company's rivals to enter the same field. Unfortunately, my time with the S10 5G is going to be quite limited; Even though the device can be purchased in stores today, Verizon and Samsung are limiting the press to only a few hours with it. I would like both companies to reconsider, since this is starting to feel like a different network. A suitable 5G one. Even if it's there on one street and then on the next, I've never seen anything so fast.