It’s just insane to think that in less than 30 years, we’ve evolved from the humble SMS to watching whatever we want, whenever we want, thanks to mobile data.
And now, mobile data speed is kicking it up a notch, with the imminent introduction of Telstra’s 5G network and the first 5G-capable smartphones to the Australia market.
Telstra were the first cab off the rank, upgrading some base stations in Sydney and Melbourne to be 5G-ready in late 2018.
[Related: Everything you need to know about 5G]
However, it’s worth noting that while Telstra’s 5G network is available in 10 cities around the country, including Toowoomba and Launceston, the overall coverage is currently very patchy. It will eventually be rolled out nationwide, so it may be worth picking up a 5G smartphone if you want to be ready.
You can find out if Telstra’s 5G network is available in your area here.
At the time of writing, there are three 5G-capable smartphones slated for release in Australia - here’s what you need to know about each of them.
Samsung Galaxy S10 5G: “I use my phone 24/7”
Samsung are the first to take advantage of the 5G network with the Galaxy S10 5G, a slightly souped-up version of the flagship S10.
Featuring a 6.7-inch screen and packed with 256GB of storage, a huge 4500mAh battery and wireless charging, the S10 5G is perfect for those always using their phone on the go.
One disadvantage, however, is that the S10 5G lacks a microSD slot for expandable storage. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is available exclusively through a Telstra plan starting at $132 per month. Samsung is yet to announce an outright price.
Oppo Reno 5G: “I watched the Game of Thrones finale on my phone”
Though Samsung may have won the battle, Oppo may have won the war - on screen real estate, that is.
The Reno 5G’s front facing camera isn’t in a notch like many smartphones these days; it actually pops out from the top, like last year’s Oppo Find X. Long story short, you can use every pixel of the near-borderless 6.6-inch screen for binge-watching.
The Oppo Reno 5G will be available to preorder from the 31st of May through Telstra and JB Hi-Fi for a recommended retail price of $1499. It's also available on a number of Telstra plans:
Customers who preorder the Reno 5G will get a free set of Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones (valued at $499). Those who pick the Reno 5G after it goes on sale on the 11th of June will get a set of Bose SoundSport Free Wireless Earphones instead.
LG V50 ThinkQ: “I use my phone for three things at once”
If one screen just isn’t enough for you, how about two? Enter the LG V50 ThinkQ 5G (say that five times fast).
The V50 ThinkQ 5G features a 4000mAh battery, 6.4-inch OLED display, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It also features the same triple-lens rear camera configuration found in the earlier LG V40.
What sets the V50 apart from the competition is the Dual Screen accessory, adding a second 6.4-inch screen to be used for multitasking. Amusingly, the device ends up looking somewhat like a vertical Nintendo DS while still feeling like a top-of-the-line smartphone.
The LG V50 ThinkQ 5G will be available exclusively through Telstra from the 11th of June, at an outright price of $1728. It'll also be available on a variety of Telstra plans, starting at $114 per month.
Wait a minute, where are the other 5G networks?
You may have noticed that all of these phones are exclusive to Telstra at the moment.
While the other two major carriers, Optus and Vodafone, have announced their intentions to roll out 5G networks of their own, neither currently offer one.
Optus have ventured into the fixed 5G broadband sphere though, which they’re currently testing in a handful of suburbs in the ACT, NSW, WA, QLD and SA.
Vodafone, on the other hand, have been more vague - though this may have something to do with their attempted merger with TPG. The latter abandoned plans for rolling out their own network in January, blaming the federal government’s ban on Huawei-manufactured 5G equipment because of national security concerns.
In other words - they’re coming, but we’re not sure when.
Should you buy a 5G phone in 2019?
If you’re interested in buying a 5G phone specifically to use 5G, it still might be best to wait for the network to be more broadly available.
No, seriously. Have a look at Telstra’s current (as of May 2019) 5G coverage in Sydney. The middle of the harbour has more coverage than most of the city.
Unless you absolutely need a new phone right this minute because you dropped yours in the toilet, you’re better off waiting a while - at least until 5G becomes more widely adopted and 5G phones drop off in price. Right now, they’re supremely expensive and there aren't that many places where you get the full value from their 5G capabilities.
There also aren't any real consumer use-cases or popular apps that require 5G yet. The download speeds might be dramatically faster but there aren't any things you can do on a 5G phone that you can't with a 4G device.
So calm your FOMO - you’re not missing out. Unless you’re in the 1% of Australians that will have access to 5G straight away, there’s not much point in upgrading right now.