Is buying a 4G-only smartphone still worth it?
Smartphones with support for 5G are now more accessible in the country. As of writing, you can choose from 59 models based on our 5G smartphone price list. It started with expensive flagships costing upwards of PHP 40K. But with recent releases, we can now purchase a good 5G smartphone for as low as PHP 8,990. Now that 5G smartphones have become more affordable, I asked myself if buying a 4G phone is still worth it?
Commercial 4G started rolling out in 2010 and in the following years ushered new devices that can cater to the faster network. Earlier devices have 4-inch screens for better web browsing, and as we increase our multimedia consumption, we’ve seen these devices sport 5-inch screens. Nowadays, 6-inches have become normal as we use it to watch videos and play games.
Looking at 4G smartphones now, I think they can still be considered good buys. Depending on the hardware, they’re powerful enough to run most apps, play games, and capture good photos. I feel the limitation, though, when it comes to mobile internet. As most of the applications and features I use require the internet, the quality and speed affect my experience with the phone. Imagine playing Mobile Legends on a powerful gaming phone but connected to a crappy 4G network. Be prepared to accept a few “inspiring” words from your teammates and say goodbye to your stars.
That’s when 5G becomes an attractive option as it offers a faster and more stable connection compared to 4G. I know some of you might disagree as 5G experience varies depending on the location. We’re still in the early phases of 5G rollout in the Philippines, so some might already have access to it and getting triple-digit speeds, while others are still stuck with 4G. I’m lucky enough to live in an area where 5G is available, so I’ve been using it as my main internet connection at home. (Fiber is not available in our subdivision. :( Sucks, I know.)
And that’s where smartphone brands are leaning towards, which is evident in the 5G-capable smartphones they’re releasing. Some brands are still offering 4G-only devices, but that’s because 4G, as of writing, is more available in more areas than 5G. If 5G is not available in your area, 4G is the next best option for mobile data. A 5G smartphone will shift to 4G if the former network is not available or to save power.
Telcos are still using 4G. In fact, they’re upgrading sites to improve current 4G LTE connections while ramping up 5G roll out to more areas and encouraging subscribers who are still in 3G to upgrade their SIMs to a 5G-ready one. Looking at my phone right now, I can see that I can use VoLTE. I’m getting double-digit speeds on 4G LTE in some areas, which is more than enough to stream Netflix and play games.
So, given the current situation that 5G is faster but with limited availability, while 4G LTE is slower but more available, is it still worth it to get a 4G-only smartphone? The answer differs depending on use cases.
I’d say yes if I don’t find the need for a 5G smartphone as of the moment. Like I’m mostly at home enjoying my fiber internet, while 4G LTE in the area is already fast enough for my needs. Or I’m living in a remote area and I need 4G to make VoLTE calls. Cheap feature phones with 4G connectivity would be really handy. 4G smartphones are also good options for those who believe that 5G poses health risks. (READ: Globe assures safety of 5G with studies from experts)
I won’t probably buy an expensive smartphone without 5G, though, for future-proofing. I don’t see a convincing reason for a brand to release a new flagship smartphone without 5G anyway.
Other than that, if you’re like me who doesn’t have a fiber connection at home, the 4G LTE speed in my area sucks, 5G is a blessing. Not to mention, there’s a 5G unlimited data promo. The best part is, I can get a 5G phone for under PHP 9K, and I’m expecting more options in the future.