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Not all Galaxy S20 phones are equal when it comes to 5G


There’s a lot to unpack (heh, get it?) after the announcement of the new Galaxy S20 phones. They offer significant improvements in pretty much every aspect compared to the S10 series. One of those aspects is connectivity.

A major point during the presentation was 5G, which all three models now support as standard, no more dedicated 5G models. One thing that wasn’t made clear during the event, however, was that not all three phones will be able to give you the same 5G experience, in case you live in an area that has coverage.

The difference is that the Galaxy S20 can only make use of the so-called Sub-6 5G. The Galaxy S20+ and S20 Ultra, on the other hand, will support both Sub-6 and mmWave. Verizon is said to exclusively carry a Galaxy S20 variant that also supports mmWave, just to make things even more confusing.

If you’re not familiar with the caveats of 5G, generally it’s separated into two spectrums: below 6GHz (hence the name Sub-6) and above 24GHz, the latter commonly referred to as mmWave (because that’s how short the waves are).

The main differences between the two are speed and coverage. The Sub-6 5G provides much better coverage but the maximum speeds are only about 20% higher than 4G LTE, so you won’t be blown away by it.

With mmWave it’s quite the opposite. That’s where the fantastic, download-a-movie-in-seconds speeds are but they come with a major disadvantage: a window, or even tree leaves and branches can block the signal, making your phone quickly switch back to 4G.

This is why carriers want to pepper cities with 5G antennas, so there’s always at least one that has a direct view of your phone when you’re outside.

Of course, 5G might not be important to you right now, but if you’re planning to hold on to your phone for a few years, this slight difference might prove to be significant. So, if you're picking up an S20, choose carefully!


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