The number of 5G phones will swell this fall when Apple and Samsung roll out the iPhone 12 and Galaxy Note 20, respectively. With those two product launches reportedly introducing half-a-dozen 5G-ready phones into the market, smartphone buyers are going to want to know which wireless provider has the strongest 5G network.
The answer depends on what you mean by “strongest” — whether that’s the fastest speeds or the widest reach. But a new report on 5G performance (opens in new tab) by testing firm OpenSignal gives us a better view of which carriers are leading the pack in the 5G user experience.
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OpenSignal’s June 2020 report indicates that Verizon 5G users saw the fastest 5G speeds on the network across the country, nearly ten times that of users on AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. When it comes to selecting the speediest network, there’s certainly a clear winner here, and Verizon takes the cake by far, with an average download speed of 494.7 Mbps.
That’s not a shock if you know that Verizon’s 5G network uses fast mmWave-based technology in the 35 cities where it’s deployed. AT&T and T-Mobile are using sub-6Ghz spectrum for the bulk of their 5G coverage and their respective download speeds of 60.8 Mbps and 49.2 Mbps.
Because mmWave-based signals don’t have as far a reach — forget about receiving a signal indoors unless there’s a cellular tower in there — Verizon lags the field in 5G availability, with its subscribers only able to connect to 5G 0.4% of the time. That’s flat from the last time OpenSignal revealed its 5G performance figures in May.
T-Mobile, meanwhile boasts the overall reach in the United States, with users connected to 5G 22.5% of the time. Sprint and AT&T snagged second and third places with numbers of 14.1% and 10.3%, respectively. Sprint’s network is being folded into T-Mobile’s as part of the merger of those two carriers, while AT&T is in the middle of building out its own nationwide 5G network using low-band coverage. It added 28 more cities this week, bringing coverage to more than 350 areas.
5G networks figure to keep evolving between now and the fall, but these are numbers smartphone buyers should still keep an eye on. Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup will be the smartphone leaders first phones to feature 5G connectivity, although some 5G iPhone 12 rumors suggest that only the iPhone 12 Pro models will be able to connect to mmWave networks.
Samsung has been making 5G phones since last year, and the Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra are expected to join the mix when they debut in August ahead of the iPhone 12’s expected release. Both Note 20 models are expected to work on all types of 5G, unlike the Galaxy S20, which didn’t initially support Verison’s network.
Whether you’re aiming to purchase an iPhone 12 or Note 20 when the time comes, it’s evident that the best product for you will heavily depend on personal preference: do you prefer better connectivity and download speeds or better availability? Whether you’re in Apple or Samsung’s corner, that’s a choice you’ll have to make for yourself.