The iPhone 12 is the current darling of the tech world, with daily rumours and ‘leaks’ hitting the headlines at a near frenzied pace and readers lapping them up just as fast.
Nearly all of them have Apple fans outright salivating, with rumours talking about everything from a new and improved 120Hz screen, to a radially reworked rear camera. But, the biggest selling point for it, according to industry rumblings will be its status as the first 5G iPhone.
This is a key factor that, according to some industry commentators, will be a key turning point that will help make 5G a mainstream technology. But for me, that argument’s a little misguided.
For those that missed it, 5G’s been a hot topic in the world of mobile since EE launched 4G in the UK many moons ago. Which is why when you walk into any phone store you’ll see 5G branding plastering every wall and advert. And on paper there’s a lot of reasons to get excited about the tech.
After all, gigabit-per-second speeds will change the way we use phones, opening the door for next generation cloud services like GeForce Now and 4K HDR movie streaming on a phone – two key things that are simply beyond 4G’s slower data rates.
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But that leads us to the key question. If 5G’s so great, why are so few people using it at the moment? One big reason is the fact the tech only works in select locations, so if you’re outside a city hub there’s little chance you’ll get to use it, even if your phone and contract would let you.
However, for me, there’s a bigger, more important roadblock keeping 5G from the masses: The phones running it are too expensive.
To date, nearly every 5G phone, outside of a few notable exceptions, carries a £600-plus RRP or is offered on an extortionately expensive contract. Think about today’s most common options: The OnePlus 8, Galaxy S20, Huawei P40 and Sony Xperia 1 II. All great phones to be sure. But they all cost an arm and a leg.
This is a problem as, the fact is, flagship phones are a luxury item that only account for a very small part of the overall phone market. Look around any street (when not in lockdown) and I guarantee you won’t see the Galaxy S20 Ultra or an iPhone 11 in most people’s hands. It’ll be a Samsung A-series, iPhone 7 or one of the multitude of other affordable Android handsets on the market.
Which is why in my mind it won’t be a flagship smartphone that makes 5G mainstream, even if it carries Apple’s hallowed branding, it’ll be a cheap phone.
This was the case with OLED, 4G, wireless charging, multiple sensor cameras and pretty much every other mobile innovation to appear in the last decade and I can’t see it changing with 5G.
That’s why this week, despite the sea of fresh Galaxy Note and iPhone 12 leaks, it was a quieter report about a new Moto G that caught my eye as the biggest bit of mobile news to drop over the last seven days. Specifically, we saw serial leaker Evan Blass drop an alleged specs sheet for a new Moto G 5G that he claims will launch in the not too distant future.
If true, and the Moto G 5G carries on the line’s focus on the lower end of the market, this will be a far bigger release than any new flagship that’ll open up a whole new, larger demographic to the next generation networking tech.