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5 ways to get the most out of your 5G phone

5G logo
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you've just bought one of the best phones this Christmas, you've almost certainly got one of the best 5G phones at the same time. But though 5G has been around for a few years now, you might still be struggling to think of ways to get the most out of it. 

Obviously the main benefit of 5G is speed: It offers far faster download and upload speeds than 4G, as we discovered in our 5G vs. 4G performance comparison. It also has lower latency, which means that data travels between a 5G device and the nearest cell tower a lot more quickly than on 4G devices. 

To use 5G, you need to own a 5G smartphone, of course. You may also need to sign up to a 5G plan with your wireless provider, if you haven't already. And you need to be in an area with 5G coverage.

Assuming you've ticked all those boxes, you're ready to start getting the most from 5G. So here are five ways that faster connection can enhance your smartphone experience. 

1. Super-fast hotspots

Image showing 5G speed results on the Speedtest app

(Image credit: Future)

As documented by my colleague Roland Moore-Colyer, 5G smartphones make very useful hotspots. Whether you're on the move and need a fast connection, recently moved into a new home and are awaiting your broadband installation, or you have a large file you need to download in a hurry, using your 5G phone as a hotspot could solve some of your internet problems.

To use your 5G phone as a hotspot, simply activate the option in your phone's settings menu. With 5G speeds theoretically surpassing many traditional broadband speeds, and with even faster connections — such as Verizon's C-Band network — on the way, using a 5G phone as a hotspot may soon be the easiest way to get the fastest online speeds.

2. Speedy video and music downloads

Image showing phone with Netflix app open

(Image credit: Future)

Downloading one of the best Netflix shows and TV series should take minutes, rather than hours, on 5G. And an entire album can be downloaded on Spotify in second. Handy if you're just about to leave the house and want something to entertain yourself with on a trip.

Follow our guide on how to download TV shows and movies from Netflix to test out your 5G network's prowess, or for music, check out how to download songs in Spotify.

3. Faster online gaming

Game being played on a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

Smartphone gaming has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of 5G. Thanks to its low latency, gamers using 5G have an advantage in online multiplayer games such as Fortnite or PUBG New State

Lower latency means that when you tap your smartphone screen to perform a command in a game, such as firing a weapon, the online server receives your it more quickly. This could give you the edge you need to win a match.

Meanwhile, having a faster connection means games will look even better in the best game streaming services, such as Nvidia's GeForce NOW, which lets you play high-end gaming PC level titles directly on your 5G smartphone.

4. Higher quality video chats

Smartphone showing a WhatsApp video call

(Image credit: WhatsApp)

If you're using one of the best video chat apps, you'll also want your video call quality to look its best, too. 5G's speed means your calls in FaceTime, Google Duo, Zoom or Skype should automatically become clearer. 

Some apps, such as Zoom, have a toggle in the settings menu to activate "HD" or "high quality" video, though most will adjust automatically based on your connection speed.

5. Ultra-fast syncing of photos and videos

Google Photos

(Image credit: Google)

If you use one of the best cloud storage for photos, such as Google Photos or iCloud, having 5G will give you almost instant access to them when you're out and about — provided you're in an area with good coverage, of course. 

The benefit of having fast and easy access to your cloud photos and videos with 5G is that you can delete them from your phone's storage, using the cloud to access them instead. This means you can free up valuable storage space, but still see your camera roll instantly on your phone, just as if the photos and videos were still saved on your device.

Dale Fox

Dale Fox is How-to Editor at Tom's Guide, helping people get the most out of their technology. He's been a tech nerd ever since childhood, when he used the money from his first job as a paperboy to buy a subscription to GamesMaster magazine, and has a whole room at home dedicated as a shrine to the countless gadgets he's purchased over the decades. Dale was previously a presenter, reporter and editor in China, where he also worked as a copywriter for OnePlus at its Shenzhen HQ.