Decoding 5G and your smartphone — it’s not about a mere software update

Decoding 5g and your smartphone – it’s not just about updating the software


Online media is full of misleading reports of Samsung and Apple phones not having the ‘software’ to support 5G rollout in India, loads more. But the fact remains that the supported cellular frequency bands are actually installed on the smartphone “hardware”, and they cannot be added simply through a software update. And yes, the iPhone 12 or later comes with 5G technology.

On Tuesday, the internet was awash with reports from news outlets and news agencies that the Indian government held a meeting on October 12 with telecom service providers and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and others”, to prioritize rolling out software upgrades to support 5G in the country, amid fears of that many of its models are not ready for the recently launched high-speed service.”

Reuters, citing industry sources and Airtel’s website, reported on October 11 that “Apple’s iPhone models, including the latest iPhone 14, and many flagship Samsung phones do not have compatible software to support 5G in India.” The report adds that “more than thirty Chinese models of Xiaomi and Vivo have been shown as ready to use with (Airtel) 5G service.”

Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma has tagged Airtel in a tweet To say he only bought a Google Pixel 6a to use 5G, but he didn’t show network as an option in New Delhi. Later, he asked Google to upgrade the software in a tweet.

Another prominent business news outlet, citing an unnamed source, reported that the matter had been escalated to the top levels of both Apple and Airtel due to the supposed lack of 5G support on iPhones, and that a meeting would be held between top executives from both companies. for work. of the offering schedule.

This all means to the uninitiated reader that enabling 5G support is as simple as pushing an iOS or Android update.

Here’s why these reports are misleading – cellular frequency bands are a hardware app, not software. Supported bands are actually installed on the smartphone during assembly/manufacturing, and cannot be added simply through a software update.

According to an industry expert, the only way a software update will give you access to 5G on your smartphone is if the device already supports band, and the update only unlocks it.

As Apple explains His support pageFor 5G, all you need is an iPhone 12 or later, a carrier that offers 5G service, and a subscription to said 5G plan. This is it. Moreover, the iPhone gives you three options in the mobile network settings:

  • 5G Auto: To enable smart data mode. When 5G speeds don’t provide a significantly better experience, the iPhone automatically switches to LTE, which saves battery life.
  • 5G On: Always uses the 5G network when available. This may reduce battery life.
  • LTE: Uses LTE (4G) only, even when 5G is available.
  • It is reliably known that Apple and Samsung internally test their 5G smartphones with available frequencies in Delhi and Mumbai – primarily to ensure the phones can automatically and seamlessly switch to the best available frequency without eavesdropping. Similarly, some telecom operators are also testing their 5G frequencies in specific cities before rolling out the service on a commercial scale.

    The government’s agenda for the October 12 meeting is just to simplify the 5G rollout process, not, as has been wrongly reported, to push smartphone manufacturers to achieve the impossible.

    Airtel, in a recent 5G spectrum auction, purchased the 900 MHz (n8), 1800 MHz (n3), 2100 MHz (n1), 3300 MHz (n78) and 26 GHz (n258 mmWave) bands. Jio Infocomm, on its official website, says that 5G services will be available in the n28 (700MHz), n78 and n258 bands. VI bought two – n78 and n258.

    In India, Apple’s latest smartphone lineup – the iPhone 14 series – Supports 22 5G bands; Appropriately, it supports n1, n3, n8, n28 and n78 bands. Samsung, on all of its 5G smartphones, Supports 12 bandsincluding n1, n3, n8, n28, and n78.

    This means that with the exception of the n258, the most popular smartphones in India will support the majority of the 5G bands offered through the carriers. And it is nearly impossible for companies that have built manufacturing lines to alter operations midway through the smartphone generation to add frequency band. The n258 band could be added in next year’s lineup of 5G smartphones, but already released models will continue to support only the initially launched bands.

    So, contrary to what the above media reports suggest, if you have a 5G smartphone and can’t access the service – once it’s commercially available, of course – it’s likely that the area you’re in has a frequency that your device doesn’t support at the hardware level.

    Here’s why the absence of the n258 band is irrelevant

    The n258 band is what is widely referred to as the millimeter wave (mmWave) band. This is the band that provides the highest possible 5G speeds, but also offers poor coverage. All too often, mmWave 5G reception has been known to get hampered by just tree leaves in the way – basically, unless you have a clear line of sight for a mmWave tower, you’re unlikely to get the full benefit of the n258 range.

    Which is why the hype about “lack of support” is unnecessarily alarming – the easiest and most likely “5G service” in the country is supported at 700/900MHz frequencies, which is also the coincidence where carriers have made the most investment in All 22 districts in the country. as we explained In this previous piecethe lower frequency bands provide a much wider coverage area – ideal for a country like India.

    Besides, most industry experts point out that it will take years before regular users can take full advantage of 5G as the technology needs to fully mature.

    Before we get too caught up in streaming Netflix at 5G speeds, maybe we should first cool off.

    #Decoding #smartphone #updating #software

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