When is 4G LTE going away?

JimS

Active Member
I was at a phone store yesterday considering a new phone.  I don't have need or use for a high end one.  Was looking at two models.  The cheaper was 4G LTE, the other was 5G.  The store person said something about the end of 4G LTE but didn't have any dates.  I usually keep phones for several years until the battery goes bad or I need more memory for ever expanding apps.  Do I need to consider life of 4G LTE phone or is it going to be long enough I don't need to think about that yet?
 

ano

Senior Member
JimS said:
I was at a phone store yesterday considering a new phone.  I don't have need or use for a high end one.  Was looking at two models.  The cheaper was 4G LTE, the other was 5G.  The store person said something about the end of 4G LTE but didn't have any dates.  I usually keep phones for several years until the battery goes bad or I need more memory for ever expanding apps.  Do I need to consider life of 4G LTE phone or is it going to be long enough I don't need to think about that yet?
You're safe for a decade, at least.  Even today, many phones are not 5G capable and for many Internet-of-Things applications, 5G devices do not exist yet. So I wouldn't worry today about buying a 4G phone, and many plans don't support 5G anyway, so its a bit of a waste.  Even if your plan supports 5G and your phone supports 5G, you still might not see it much. There are several "types" of 5G, some high-speed but very limited range like Verizon's UltraWide band 5G, to T-Mobile's "5G" which really isn't any faster than 4G. I usually turn off 5G on my iPhone because it kills the battery faster with little noticeable speed difference. Phones only use small chunks of data and even movie streaming doesn't require great speeds.  
 

JimS

Active Member
ano said:
You're safe for a decade, at least.  Even today, many phones are not 5G capable and for many Internet-of-Things applications, 5G devices do not exist yet. So I wouldn't worry today about buying a 4G phone, and many plans don't support 5G anyway, so its a bit of a waste.  Even if your plan supports 5G and your phone supports 5G, you still might not see it much. There are several "types" of 5G, some high-speed but very limited range like Verizon's UltraWide band 5G, to T-Mobile's "5G" which really isn't any faster than 4G. I usually turn off 5G on my iPhone because it kills the battery faster with little noticeable speed difference. Phones only use small chunks of data and even movie streaming doesn't require great speeds.  
Interesting.  I was thinking it might be a bit of an upsell and not that near term.  Given that I am looking at getting a Samsung A03.  What about foreign travel?  I don't do much but do a bit to Mexico for work and other location capability would be a bit of a plus..  I haven't had trouble with this in the past.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
As has been said, 4G isn't going away any time soon.  5G requires much closer proximity of towers in order to gain the benefits of it.  For densely populated areas it certainly has potential.  But most places aren't that and will continue to have 4G LTE coverage for quite a while.

Where it gets sticky is which bands.  Not all phone radios handle all 4G LTE bands.  Most support 'enough' to get decent coverage, but it'd be important to CHECK ON THIS BEFORE BUYING.

Which geographic market?  Which specific model phone?  While a phone might be called a "model x" there are likely very specific variations of it designed for specific carriers and markets.

According to some quick checking, the Samsung A03-Core does not seem to have decent US market support: https://www.kimovil.com/en/frequency-checker/US/samsung-a03-core
 

JimS

Active Member
wkearney99 said:
As has been said, 4G isn't going away any time soon.  5G requires much closer proximity of towers in order to gain the benefits of it.  For densely populated areas it certainly has potential.  But most places aren't that and will continue to have 4G LTE coverage for quite a while.

Where it gets sticky is which bands.  Not all phone radios handle all 4G LTE bands.  Most support 'enough' to get decent coverage, but it'd be important to CHECK ON THIS BEFORE BUYING.

Which geographic market?  Which specific model phone?  While a phone might be called a "model x" there are likely very specific variations of it designed for specific carriers and markets.

According to some quick checking, the Samsung A03-Core does not seem to have decent US market support: https://www.kimovil.com/en/frequency-checker/US/samsung-a03-core
Thanks!  I had read something about it having limited frequency support but it didn't give any more detail.  Have also read a few negative reviews (of course there are always a few unhappy people about anything).  Now leaning toward the A13 5G even though it is twice as much.  Need to read a few more reviews though...
 

ano

Senior Member
wkearney99 said:
As has been said, 4G isn't going away any time soon.  5G requires much closer proximity of towers in order to gain the benefits of it.  For densely populated areas it certainly has potential.  But most places aren't that and will continue to have 4G LTE coverage for quite a while.
"5G" is not one "thing" but three different technologies on even more bands. Low-band 5G is an overlay of 4G on 600GHz, 700GHz, 800GHz, and 900 GHz with T-Mobile rolling those bands first, some of it acquired from the Sprint acquisition.   Data can be slightly faster than 4G, sometimes, but coverage can be nationwide, just like 4G.  So there is no closer proximity to towers.  It depends on the frequencies, lower goes further with less capacity.
 
Midband 5G is at 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz and 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz.  It's wider, so more capacity and faster speeds, but range drops.  T-Mobile got some midband spectrum from Sprint also, and Verizon bought some at auction.  ATT has been a bit slow with this band.
 
Then there is Highband 5G, sometimes called "millimeter wave."  It is at 24 GHz, 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz.  These frequencies are VERY line-of-sight, so range is short, but speeds can be fast. These are the fast 5G speeds you hear the carriers bragging about, but they are not common.  ATT is using 39 GHz and Verizon is using 28 GHz, I believe.   Think a few 1000 feet coverage, maybe a football stadium.  Actually I think Verizon is in all the football stadiums.  
 
Then there is Dynamic Spectrum Sharing which is another story altogether.  Different technologies on the same band.  Overall its a big mess, and unfortunately, it can't be fully described well in just a sentence or two, at least if you want to be accurate.
 
Really you only need 4G on a phone.  Most of the 5G "tricks" only benefit either low-power IoT things on one end, or high-bandwidth hogs like PC's on the other end.  
 
Now international? Yes 5G is happening there too but there are many frequencies, and your phone may or may not support them.  
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
JimS said:
Thanks!  I had read something about it having limited frequency support but it didn't give any more detail.  Have also read a few negative reviews (of course there are always a few unhappy people about anything).  Now leaning toward the A13 5G even though it is twice as much.  Need to read a few more reviews though...
Buy once, cry once.  Get the right device for the markets you'll be using.  Do not let price of the unit be your only guide, otherwise you discover gotchas like band coverage after the fact. 

Of the many phones I've had over the years I have to say the least troublesome was the Samsung S8 on Verizon.  Decent size and battery life and all-around good performance for everything I needed from it.  I've since replaced it with an S22 and while it is faster the difference really isn't all that noticeable.  I kept an eye out for deals and 3 others on our plan had refurbed units, one had excessive screen burn-in and the vendor exchanged the unit.  Otherwise they performed and acted like the new one without any problems.
 

JimS

Active Member
wkearney99 said:
Buy once, cry once.  Get the right device for the markets you'll be using.  Do not let price of the unit be your only guide, otherwise you discover gotchas like band coverage after the fact. 

Of the many phones I've had over the years I have to say the least troublesome was the Samsung S8 on Verizon.  Decent size and battery life and all-around good performance for everything I needed from it.  I've since replaced it with an S22 and while it is faster the difference really isn't all that noticeable.  I kept an eye out for deals and 3 others on our plan had refurbed units, one had excessive screen burn-in and the vendor exchanged the unit.  Otherwise they performed and acted like the new one without any problems.
Yep.  That's the conclusion we are coming to.  Better to spend a little more up front and have less hassles with it day to day although some of the features of the high end phones like super crisp, fast updating screens and over the top (IMHO) resolution on cameras is something we just don't need.  Have considered getting used or refurbished.  There are some sites for individual sellers.  How/where did you get your units if you don't mind saying?  Any suggestions on where to look for deals?  I haven't had any of the providers say anything about that in their stores so I am thinking that refurbished may only be an option online with them.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
Several deals I've gotten on refurbed units came up on the Woot.com website.  But when I've needed one and no immediate deals were available I used Amazon, being careful to check the seller and the return policy. 
 

JimS

Active Member
It looks like the S8 is available refurbished for under $100.  Will have to look at memory size - that's one thing that led us to upgrade from the J7.  I tried to use my old J7 on Cricket (to try to narrow down some issues with our current Moto units to the network or the phone) but it wouldn't work because it lacked HD voice capability and Cricket network refused to connect to it because of that.  Seems like a ridiculous requirement.  I don't need super high fidelity audio - I do listen to music occasionally on it but I am far from an audio snob.  Hard to imaging getting super quality out of the small transducers in the phone.  Seems more like something they can brag about in marketing.  Anyway, some of the features you have to have because they come bundled in newer phones with other needed features or the cell companies have made them requirements.  I like tech but on much of this I think I would be considered a "slow adopter".  :)
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
The issues with HD calling have perhaps more to do with the kind of data stream being transported over the cell network rather than the specific fidelity of it.  It's been decades since I had to care about phone codecs but once upon a time it REALLY mattered.  I'm guessing there's still plenty 'behind the scenes' that push things like that.

At this point refurbed S8 are pretty cheap but there is the question of battery life.  The tiny units in phones only last "so long" before they no longer hold a decent charge and potentially also end up expanding (the 'spicy pillow' effect).  I have no idea how to check the condition of a battery in one.  But if I were shopping and the choice was between a phone with or without a replaced battery I'd be willing to pay little more for one with a new battery.
 

JimS

Active Member
I agree.  We have used phones until the battery starts going.  Definitely would want a good battery.  I am guessing a refurbished one would have a new battery but would want to confirm that on any particular purchase.  Then there is the quality of the replacement battery - that's pretty hard to determine.
 

LarrylLix

Senior Member
With an S8 you may find yourself in a vaccum in a year or less. This is the new way to make you buy new hardware by making sure new app releases won't work on it.
 
In Canada I am not sure you can find a new phone that doesn't support 5G anymore. Don't get fooled by EU compatibility. No matter what frequency it supports you may find yourself having to "rent" a compatible phone as they use different protocols. I have seen a few people get snagged by this phone sales con in the past. I am not sure if 5G still has the same problem. I believe this is why the top end phones offer "dual SIMs".
 
Many of the discount providers now use 5G and choke the speeds down to 3G for prices like $10-$15 per month with lots of data etc. With a powerful network speed behind it, most users can never notice the difference in speeds. Streamers may see a different experience. I don't stream on a 6.1" screen.  I don't need the chiropractic bills for neck pain, or get that bored with the world.
 

ano

Senior Member
JimS said:
Then there is the quality of the replacement battery - that's pretty hard to determine.
On iPhone, it's Settings, Battery, Battery Health.  On Android you generally need an app. like AccuBattery.  Others, good luck.
 
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