What’s the Difference Between 4G and 5G?

What's the Difference Between 4G and 5G?
Photo: Shutterstock

If you’re in the market for a your first phone or you’re looking to upgrade your current phone, you’ve probably heard a lot about 5G. But what exactly is it and what’s the differences between 4G and 5G?

We break it down for you.


Speed is the core advantage 5G has over 4G. According to Business Insider, “5G has the potential to be 100 times faster than 4G, with a top theoretical speed around 20 gigabytes per second, though current, real-world speeds range from 50 megabytes per second to 3 gigabytes.” Got it?

But it’s even a little more complicated than that. There are three flavors of 5G, and each one has its own speed. The so-called low-band 5G is somewhat faster than 4G with performance around 50-250 Mbps. While the fastest version of 5G, called high-band 5G, reaches 3 Gbps. Since mid-band 5G is what’s most commonly available right now, you can be sure that it’s faster than 4G.


What's the Difference Between 4G and 5G?
Photo: Shutterstock

You can expect 5G to deliver much greater bandwidth than 4G. Bandwidth refers to the capacity of the network to handle the amount of information being passed back and forth between devices. That comes in handy when the information being passed is video, which is much fatter than audio or text content.

So why does 5G have great bandwidth? It’s because 5G uses the current spectrum of waves much more efficiently. As we mentioned above, 5G uses three levels of bands whereas 4G only uses a tiny sliver. More bands mean more capacity.


Unlike bandwidth, latency is the TIME it takes for information to travel from point A to point B. It doesn’t matter how much stuff you want to send, if its running on older, slower technology. That latency slows down the whole process. The newer, faster technology that’s behind 5G is the difference. And it can be measured. Currently, latency in 4G networks is about 50 milliseconds, while 5G networks are expected to reduce it to 1 millisecond. WOW!


Since 5G is relatively new, it’s only available in about 100 cities. Even today, 4G isn’t available in certain rural areas. So, if you tend to travel to remote places, 5G probably won’t do much for you. However, if you live in one of those cities with lots of new 5G towers, you’ll find that your downloading, streaming and internet connections are significantly faster.


While the heavy promotion has made many people ready to make the jump to a 5G phone, you’ll want to make sure that there is coverage available before they make the switch. However, if you’re at the right place, at the right time, and there’s a great deal on a 5G phone, then it’s probably a good time to take the plunge.

Sources: CNN, Business Insider, How Life Works