Some technologies are only good for the future
Smartphones are probably the most intimate piece of technology that most people care about. In this internet age, we care about the quality of the pictures and videos we take.
Two, we care about how quickly we can maneuver over the internet. That's how fast we can share the media we take. And of course, how fast we can download / access media that our friends and stranger friends on social media share.
This means we're always pining for the best smartphone cameras, and the fastest, most reliable and affordable bandwidth.
This way, it's not hard to see why there has been a lot of hype around 5G, 4k, and 8K. Of course, 4K has been the focus of the past 3 years while 8K will likely be the thing most people will probably chase in 2020.
Indeed, it is almost as if the age of HD and HDR in the smartphone industry was just but a short-lived detour.
Over the course of 2018 and 2019 smartphone industry reviews have been dominated by the talk of 5G. Some youtube reviews have pointed out that 5G isn't that useful at the moment.
Nonetheless, that hasn't stopped them from using it as one of the metrics to rank what they consider as innovative in flagship phones of 2019.
To reiterate the point, at the moment 5G is insanely overrated because of the following reasons:
There is very limited coverage
China probably leads in 5G coverage thanks to Huawei's 5G modems. Outside China, 5G is deployed in select locales in the developed world.
Most companies are still struggling with developing reliable 5G modems
In the recent past, Qualcomm has been bullish about its 5G technology. However, time has revealed that they might have overstated the maturity of their technology.
The development of reliable modems takes time, effort and money to pull it off. So much so that Intel not only had to abandon their 5G plans but also agreed to sell that division to Apple.
In spite of that acquisition, Apple realizes that it will take it years to work on a reliable modem. Therefore, it's reportedly working with Qualcomm in developing the first 5G modem in an iPhone. And this is notwithstanding their bitter long battles in the courts over the last couple of years.
So is 5G useful?
At the moment, not really. Even in areas where it's currently deployed, its reliability is inconsistent. A lot of its benefits will be reaped probably in the years leading to 2025. And that's in the developed world. In the developing world, it could a lot longer for the necessary infrastructure to be rolled out.
Isn't Wifi 6 a better proposition than 5G?
One of my nerd friends argues that a lot of the promises that 5G promises can already be achieved with WIFI.
As it turns out, WIFI 6 and 5G are used to complement each other. 5G is ideal for outdoor environments and Wi-Fi 6 being ideal for both outdoor and indoor environments. 5G only beats Wi-Fi 6 in high mobility situations e.g on a fast-moving car, train.
It seems to me that Wi-Fi 6 is more important seeing that most people use the internet within indoor environments.
When you consider the above reality and the fact that Wi-Fi 6 seems to be rolling out faster, 5G increasingly seems overhyped. More accurately, it seems that Wi-Fi 6 is more worthy of the buzz.
8K Display Technology
While announcing its snapdragon 865 SoC chips, Qualcomm promises that the chip will enable smartphone cameras to record up to 8K videos. Since the chips will be released in the first quarter of 2020, it is likely that android phones manufacturers will rush to use the chip.
Now, in theory, the ability to shoot an 8K video on a smartphone sounds great. When you really think about it though, there are several concerns.
- 8K videos will need higher storage space on your phone
- 8K videos will require higher bandwidth to share
- For the average user, 8K videos will almost be indistinguishable to the average from 4k videos. Heck, even 4k videos are almost indistinguishable from normal HD videos.
I would argue that 4k and 8k are useful when dealing with AR and VR. They're also useful for content producers since they can be edited and scaled to appropriate resolutions.
Not yet convinced? checkout insight into 8K by one of the most underrated YT creators
5G modems expansion and the ability to shoot high resolution (4k & 8K) videos are important pieces of technologies. However, they're clearly not ripe for their time.
Any insistence that these technologies ought to be in the spec sheet of a smartphone today or in the next year ignores the glaring gaps in supporting technologies and infrastructure.