How Fast Is 5G Vs 4G? What is the Difference in Speed and Latency?

Have you been hearing a lot about 5G vs 4G, but not entirely sure what it is? 5G is going to be the next generation of cellular connectivity. It will replace 4G LTE technology, as it’s more efficient, faster and has better signal strength. The need for something better than 4G LTE is because of how crowded that cellular band is getting — there are millions upon millions of devices operating on it, and more is being added everyday. It’s getting super crowded, and so there’s the need for something that is capable of handling all of those devices.

Follow along below, and we’ll dive into what 5G technology is and compare 4G and 5G, the speed differences and how consumers everywhere will benefit from the upgrade!

Actual 4G and 5G Speed Test

Tech reviewer Marques Brownlee, aka MKBHD, did a live test in one of the first 5G cities in the United States.  He first purchased a ,600 Samsung galaxy s10 5G and traveled to Brown University campus in Providence, RI, which has 5G connectivity available today via Verizon Wireless network.

What Marques found was that the speed was indeed impressive, but to achieve maximum download speed was tough, you would need to be standing in a direct line to the 5G nodes.  Even just one block away from the node would decrease the download speed dramatically.

But the bottom line is when he did speed test using, he got download speed at an insanely high download rate of 2.1 G/s!  And when he used, he got download speed of  about 1.5 GB/S.  To put that in perspective, your cable modem you’re getting at home is typically about 15 MB/s, and maybe as high as 50 MB to 100 MB/s if you pay extra.

A typical 90 minute movie is about 1 GB and a half hour tv show is about 350 MB.  So you technically, in an optimal setting (if the server even allows it), you could download a full movie in less than a second.  Of course that’s not feasible, but you can definitely see an easy 10x to 20x speed bump from 4G downloads in regular use once the networks roll out all their 5G nodes.

You can see the actual speed test in Marques’ video below:

More 5G vs 4G Tests

Here is CNET’s test in Chicago using Verizon’s 5G network. She used the Samsung galaxy s10 5G phone and got download speeds of about 1 GB/S and downloaded about 10 hours of videos in under 5 minutes, which is about 7 GB to 8 GB worth of content.

Here’s CNET’s test in Dallas using Sprint’s 5G network. She used the LG V50 ThinQ 5G to test it.

The CNET editor saw speeds of up to 700 MB/s, and consistently above 300 MB/s.

As far as battery life usage when using 5G, the test started the day at about 1pm with the phone at 91% battery remaining.  And at the end of the day around 8pm, the battery had 17% remaining.  That was with almost a full day of active usage, so the that’s a pretty reasonable battery life using 5G.

Here is MacRumors’ 5G test in Chicago using Verizon’s 5G network. They used both the LG V50 ThinQ 5G and the Samsung galaxy s10 5G phones to test.

Fyi, iPhone will not have a 5G phone available until late 2020, that’s the latest rumor at least…

Here is Digital Trends’ 5G test in Chicago using Verizon’s 5G network and using the Samsung S10 5G phone.

Here’s CNET’s 5G test in Los Angeles on AT&T’s 5G using the Samsung galaxy s10 5G.

The CNET editor got an insanely faster speeds of up to 1.8 GB/s.

Sprint vs Verizon 5G Speed

As you can see from the videos above, Sprint’s 5G is more broad and spread out evenly, meaning it’s easier to get the network across the city.  This is because they built their 5G on to of their existing 4G LTE network, so connectivity will be more consistent.

Verizon does has faster speeds, their top speed is insanely fast, with download speeds up to 2 GB/S, but must be optimized and standing next to a Verizon 5G node.

So at this point, Verizon is much faster and less reliable.  In real life usage, the Sprint 5G appears to be more useful.

5G is more capable

Right now, 4G LTE technology is only capable of using lower frequency bands. Right now, it can only operate up to 6GHz, whereas the radio bands that 5G will be able to handle will be anywhere between 30GHz and 300GHz. It’s a huge upgrade, and it will bring huge improvements to mobile device use. Since it can operate at such a high frequency, consumers will get massive speed increases, and this is because it has the support for a huge capacity of data.

Not only that, but these radio frequencies won’t already be crowded with existing devices — 5G will be entirely new, meaning it will free up tons of bandwidth. 5G will also work in a directional way, meaning you won’t get signal interference if you’re standing next to other wireless signals. On the other hand, 4G technology shoots radio signals in all different directions, so with 5G, you’ll get something more intentional and efficient.

In addition, because of the way 5G uses wavelengths, it will be able to provide super fast data speeds to a lot more people. Current testing and research shows that it will be able to handle up to an additional 1,000 devices per meter. That’s a ton of extra devices it can handle.

What about speed?

As we’ve mentioned a couple of times already, one of the great things about 5G technology is just how much faster it is. In current development, 5G is reaching speeds that are twenty times faster than 4G LTE. 4G LTE has a peak speed of 1GB per second; 5G is able to achieve speeds of 20GB per second. Keep in mind these are peak speeds; actual everyday speeds will depend on a number of factors, such as location, the device you have and whether you’re in motion or not. More likely, you’ll get 100MB per second of everyday speeds, whereas 4G currently only offers 10MB per second in everyday speeds.

5G vs 4G

So, this is all nice, but just how will 5G benefit the everyday consumer? You’ll be able to do all the things you’re currently doing, but a lot faster, more efficiently and a lot more reliable. First, consumers should notice that their Internet connection is a lot more reliable. This is because 4G, right now, is super crowded, and because of that, depending on the amount of devices around your home. things can be super slow. With the move to 5G, that bandwidth will free up and be able to handle a lot more devices per meter (up to 1,000 devices). That said, there will be tons more room for your smartphones, tablets, smart home devices (wireless locks, security cameras, virtual assistants and so on. Basically, you won’t have to worry about dropped connections when there’s a ton of devices on at the same time.

Not only that, but you could expect 5G to replace your home Wi-Fi connection. It’s a lot more advanced, faster and able to handle a lot more than traditional Wi-Fi connections. Again, you won’t experience revolutionary changes, but you can expect to do everything you’re doing now, but with a lot more speed and stability in terms of the connection.

When can we expect 5G to become available?

Most 5G networks are still in development, but some carriers are looking at 2020 for an official release, so about two years from the time of this writing. It may or may not be a little longer, because you will have to have a 5G-capable device to take advantage of this new network, and we’re not sure when those will be releasing, although we’d imagine many manufacturers would try to line up their devices with the release of 5G.

You shouldn’t expect to see much cost to move over to 5G either, although it depends on what carriers decide to do with their smartphone plans. The only cost you should experience is a new phone purchase, which has gotten relatively cheap over the years with being able to use device payment plants. That said, you shouldn’t expect to see your smartphone bill changing at all.