It’s been a long wait for 5G, with its creation and release taking almost a decade. A lot has been going on around 5G recently as plans to roll it out are starting to materialise – in fact, selected areas in the US have already started to gain access to it.

But what exactly is 5G? 5G is the next generation of mobile broadband – with 5G literally meaning fifth generation. It’s how your device accesses the internet and sends and receives messages when not connected to Wi-Fi and eventually, it'll replace the current 4G LTE connection most current smartphones use now.

What’s going to be different?

5G promises to perform better than its 4G LTE predecessor in every way – it’s going to have better signal strength, connectivity, range and it’s going to be much faster.

Mobile networks function through the transfer of data over radio waves. Currently, 4G LTE can only operate using lower frequency bands, but 5G will operate on 3 different spectrum bands, meaning it includes a whole new level. 4G is capable of using frequencies up to 6GHz, but 5G is supposed to be able to cope with radio bands from 30GHz to 300GHz – that’s clearly a huge difference. This means there will be much more room for data, increasing speeds exponentially.

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5G will also work more linearly than 4G LTE: its radio waves won’t emit in all different directions like 4G LTE does, which means you shouldn’t experience nearly as much signal blockage or interference, making the connection stronger and more reliable.

To top it all off, 5G uses wavelengths differently than its predecessors. Current testing shows it's able to provide a connection to an additional 1,000 devices per metre – so you should get a steadier and faster connection even in busy areas with multiple devices connecting at once.

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All in all, you’ll notice a real difference in just about every aspect of mobile network capability when you first connect to the 5G network. You can expect a better signal strength, faster speeds even at peak time or in busy areas, better call quality due to less interference and texts that send faster and won’t bounce back as often.

How will devices change?

When 5G launches, chances are you won't notice a difference with your current handset. This is because most devices are unable to utilise 5G, they’re only designed to use 4G LTE.

Smartphone manufacturers are currently working on phones that will be able to offer 5G however, with some 5G handsets announced for release in 2019 such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G and the Huawei Mate X. Processors used inside phones will have to adapt to the new network too, with experts Qualcomm announcing that the new Snapdragon X55 5G that will support 5G.

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When you do get your hands on a 5G handset though, it’s predicted that you’ll be able to download data up to speeds of 7Gbps and upload at speeds of 3Gbps depending on the handset and processor – that’s super-fast, you’d be able to download a full-length HD+ movie in seconds.

Where’s going to get 5G first?

5G has already begun its debut in America. It’s being tested in areas within Texas, Oregon and New Jersey.

However, we won’t have that long to wait either. 5G is expected to launch in certain areas of the UK by mid-2019 – it looks like it’s going to be rolled out in stages, with UK coverage set to increase massively by 2020.

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EE have announced that the first cities that will launch 5G here in the UK are London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.

While it seems 5G could be just over the horizon, we’re looking at a couple of years before we see full coverage across the nation. If you’re looking to get your hands on a brand-new handset in the meantime, check out our great deals here.