5G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Battery Life. Excited Yet?

from the ill-communication dept

Buried underneath the blistering hype surrounding fifth-generation (5G) wireless is a quiet but growing consensus: the technology is being over-hyped, and early incarnations were rushed to market in a way that prioritized marketing over substance. That's not to say that 5G won't be a good thing when it arrives at scale several years from now, but early offerings have been almost comical in their shortcomings. AT&T has repeatedly lied about 5G availability by pretending its 4G network is 5G. Verizon has repeatedly hyped early non-standard launches that, when reviewers actually got to take a look, were found to be barely available.

That's before we even get to actual 5G phone support, which is fairly paltry so far. Some carriers have gone so far as to offer up extensive and clunky battery mods for existing phones, which few are going to want to actually pay for. And the handsets that are available tend to be bigger, more expensive, and with worse battery life than existing phones.

Case in point: Qualcomm was so eager to hype 5G and sell more hardware, the company removed the integrated 4G LTE chipset in its 2020 Snapdragon 865 system on a chip (SOC). But one of the impacts of removing integrated LTE is that 5G support now requires more battery life and more space, driving up overall costs for the end user:

"This means nearly every flagship Android phone will be a 5G phone in 2020, and putting the 5G and 4G on a giant extra chip means smartphones are going to use way more power, no matter which cell network you're connected to. When 5G networks are only going to be in their infancy in 2020, this sounds like an across-the-board downgrade to me."

Keep in mind: US consumers -- who already pay some of the highest prices in the world -- are also going to be paying notably more just to connect to these 5G networks, making 5G in the short term an expensive proposition. The repeal of net neutrality is likely to result in carriers finding new, creative ways to nickel-and-dime you, and the looming merger between Sprint and T-Mobile is likely to reduce competition, driving up consumer costs as well. As such, 5G's added price proposition isn't likely to appeal to most users anytime soon.

This is before you get to simple aesthetics and design, and the fact that 5G phones are going to be bigger and clunkier than ever:

"So far, the industry's response to 5G's bigger space requirements has been to make smartphones even larger. Consider the Galaxy S10 as a data point: you can get 4G versions like the 6.1-inch Galaxy S10 and the 6.4-inch Galaxy S10+, but if you want 5G, you will have to pick up the ultra-huge 6.7-inch Galaxy S10 5G, which is basically a new S10++ sku. For the Galaxy S11's 2020 release (which, remember, has to have 5G in every model), rumors point to across-the-board size increases for every model."

Apple has taken some heat for "lagging" behind on a 5G phone, but it's fairly clear if you're paying attention that there's no actual rush. The folks framing 5G as some kind of "race" are largely network gear makers and carriers looking to spike network hardware and smartphone sales (or hey, scare regulators into blind obedience). In reality, 5G will ultimately provide faster, better, and more resilient mobile networks, but it's going to take years for networks to reach critical mass and prices to come down. For now, there's no shame -- and likely some notable savings -- when it comes to lagging behind on 5G.

Filed Under: 5g, battery life, overhype
Companies: qualcomm


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 7:18am

    ALL of the S10's are already way too big as it is. If a phone doesn't fit into a pocket, it's too big.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 8:15am

      no optimum

      There is no optimum one-size-fits-all cellfone size.

      Wide consumer choice is good. Consumer preferences differ.
      How many choices do you have in personal computers -- lots.

      Bigger fones/screens become more appealing as you get older and eyesight deteriorates, or if your vision wasn't great to start with.

      Steve Jobs was totally wrong with the small/compact 'original' iPhone -- most all fones got bigger.

      2G fones are still around -- 5G will be only a niche market for many years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 10:20am

        Re: no optimum

        It's is rather humorous when people use their tablet to take pictures.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 12:54pm

          Re: Re: no optimum

          ... not if one is familiar with the vast array of awkward cameras people have very commonly used in past 75 years

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 1:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: no optimum

            Yes, there are many. Some have a reason for being weird others not. It is funny to watch people use a camera that has a magazine like form factor.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 7:25am

    Smartphones have gotten too thin and fragile to even hold comfortably. I'd welcome the return of candy-bar size phones again in return for more battery life and a dedicated headphone port.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    BroD, 18 Dec 2019 @ 7:30am

    And--let's face it--when it comes to real estate (also tech) it's all about the logo.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 18 Dec 2019 @ 7:32am


    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 18 Dec 2019 @ 8:00am

    If you live somewhere cold...

    They will make a wonderful hand warmer!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 9:09am

    Antitrust

    Is it just me, or does that "mandatory 5G" story sound like the exact kind of thing Qualcomm has already received anti-trust fines for and is facing further anti-trust lawsuits about? In the EU, South Korea, Japan, China... even the USA, which hardly ever enforces anti-trust law anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    stine, 18 Dec 2019 @ 10:29am

    moving the 5g radio to a separate chip

    This is how iPhone's have been designed for several generations, so unless IOS is much better than Android, this should be a non-issue.
    I believe several prominent tech sites have already covered this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Zof (profile), 18 Dec 2019 @ 10:43am

    4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Battery Li

    3G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Battery Life

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 18 Dec 2019 @ 11:36am

      Re: 4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Batter

      And they were. It took years for the phones to get smaller and use less power, and during the same time, coverage spread enough to be useful. So you really want to wait until the phones are ready, by which point the networks might be as well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 6:45am

        Re: Re: 4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Ba

        "So you really want to wait until the phones are ready, by which point the networks might be as well."

        With 5G that's dubious. The whole thing is hyped to a ridiculous point.

        Essentially every shift towards higher bandwidth is accompanied by an unavoidable loss of signal range because that's how the laws of electromagnetism work. 4G already requires close proximity to a cell phone tower in order to retain substantial bandwidth.

        5G doesn't even have 2% (!) of the signal range of 4G.

        So the new hyperexpensive 5G flagship will effectively be running 4G, 3G or EDGE until you've got enough signal transmitters in the city to make the nearest cell phone switch no further away than your wifi router when you're at home.

        But the telcos will be begging for massive state or federal subsidies to fund a best-effort 5G tower network in a few places and the phone manufacturers will surely enjoy selling their 5G flagships at an extra 30% cost.

        The entire 5G rollout in the US should be renamed the "P.T. Barnum Memorial Project".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ECA (profile), 19 Dec 2019 @ 12:23pm

          Re: Re: Re: 4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crapp

          This is just to Show..
          That the Cellphone system is doing something..
          What may Not be clear, is what they Think they are doing.

          Insted of installing FIOS, into all these cities they have this neat idea to compete with Cable and FIOS, to use a wireless system.

          the problems they are going to have with wireless are many. Esp. with High frequency.
          And that they are going to need Fios connections to every Antenna ANYWAY. There is a demo they asked for, from a Canadian YT.. and he went to 1of the cities that has the antenna, and walked the area, and it was terrible.. He could block the signal from 1 block away with his own body. "can you hear me now" is going to be very popular...Changed to "Can I watch now"..

          Its Money sink. its a giant tax deduction, of failure. And I dont want to pay for them, to not pay their taxes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 1:20pm

      Re: 4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Ba

      First cell phone I saw was being used by some dude in a saloon restroom. He thought he was tha shit - LOL it was the size of a walkie talkie.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 4:25pm

        4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Batteries

        No, many of the first 1G cell phones were permanently installed in motorcars. The handset sat between the driver and passenger seats, the actual electronics were a brick-like package mounted in the trunk and there was a curly antenna affixed to the back window. The whole thing was analogue FM and cost $0.25 to $1/minute.

        There was an earlier version of manual mobile telephone before that which was just as bulky or worse, but with no more than a few dozen channels to cover the whole city, it was basically useless.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 5:56pm

          Re: 4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Batter

          "First cell phone I saw " - Anonymous Coward 1

          "No, " - Anonymous Coward 2

          Yeah you tell that BAStRD. Who's he/she to tell you what the first cell phone he saw looked like.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 6:38am

          Re: 4G Phones Will Be Bigger & More Expensive With Crappy Ba

          Never claimed it was the first cell phone now did I?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 18 Dec 2019 @ 12:44pm

    hadd/need to post this.

    https://www.verizon.com/home/fios-gigabit-connection/?promotion_code=JUNCT/W04&CMP=AFC_CON_ACQ_33333 _CJ_201807_OTH_GigTP_000001_CJ&AID=13382497&PID=7060520&SID=dad9f261-891a-4134-9495-6580b10bd23b&cje vent=3ea3ff6b21d611ea831900170a1c0e12 National advert sent by IGN.. Fios and Disney+ on us. +$100 Visa Prepaid card +3 year Router Rental $80 per month. ------------------------------------------------------ I tested and sent my zip code and NOPE.. not a chance in hell. I called them to suggest this, and ask Why they sent this nationally.. As there is a Major chance it dont cover the USA.. IT DONT.. its east coast only. Which is less than 25% of the nation.. And If I have any idea of the odds anyone here can get it, it would be a <10% chance, even on the East coast. https://providersbyzip.com/verizon-fios-availability have fun with this.. Can anyone test this for dependability?? They are giving a Good speed Up/Down..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 1:09pm

    These are all good reasons why apple is not making a 5g phone,
    the 5g networks are years away from being built,
    it,ll be years before consumers can notice a difference in network speed,s beween 4g and 5g.,There,s no reason to buy an expensive 5g phone for at least a year .
    american telecom companys can hardly build fast broadband for consumers in many states, They will probably just build 5 g networks in citys and urban area,s and leave 4g as it is now for rural area,s .
    And it will take years to make high quality 5g chips that use less power than the 1st generation 5g chips .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 2:14pm

    That's not to say that 5G won't be a good thing when it arrives at scale several years from now

    I'll say it. I don't think there is anything necessary or particularly good about 5G phones or infrastructure. I also think it is full-on bullshit vapor. They will redefine 5G to mean what they want, and everyone in the supply stream and service provider stream will make you pay more for less.

    100% no good, that's my crazy psychic prediction.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2019 @ 6:43am

      Re:

      It could be a direct result of the business model in use here, the industry is reliant upon continual market expansion and in its absence the market becomes soft, so their response is to create brand new spankin shit for you to purchase even though you have no need for it. There seems to be little effort to identify the rather large animal in the room, some feel as though it could be an elephant but they are not sure and are afraid to look.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2019 @ 3:20pm

    Apple waited on 4G until there was a better, more energy-efficient chip. They will do the same for 5G. If there isn't one for the 2020 iPhone's, they won't have 5G on them.

    Personally I don't see the point of having 5G on a phone. What is the most bandwidth HOG on your phone that you do? I'll say streaming Video. I do a lot of that. 4G works just fine for that. Far more than good enough.

    The biggest issue for me is weak T-Mobile service is some areas. I think maybe part of it is this iPhone XS with the Intel modem in it. It's strange where I'd have even 3 or 4 bars and my phone is acting as I have ZERO internet service. The phone works, but everything else is dead. Even 1 or 2 bars I should be getting something, but it's just DEAD. I can't even do the most basic very little internet use. Even trying to run SpeedTest, Nothing!!! It's been a while but I think my iPhone 6 worked better in the same places that my iPhone XS doesn't.

    On the other hand, some if not most or all is just T-Mobile. They like others really need to get better service, even in town. Wanting to charge more money for 5G? That is another issue I have a problem with. Pay more and 99.9% of the time you aren't even connected to 5G. 5G also needs 4 times the towers to cover the same area. I won't pay more for 5G. I could care less about 5G. My phone when it's working does everything I need it to do.

    For me, speed is fast enough already.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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