5G remained in the news throughout 2020 for different reasons. With the launch of new 5G laptops and 5G-enabled iPhones, many experts hope that 5G adoption will be expedited globally. In 2021 as well, a slew of 5G devices, particularly laptops, are expected to hit the market. But with claims of lightning-fast speeds and high performance, is this the right time to buy a 5G laptop? What are the advantages and risks of a 5G laptop to consider? Let’s find out.
Benefits of 5G Laptops
As is evident by the name, 5G is the fifth-generation of wireless cellular standard and comes nearly a decade after 4G was used commercially. The technology has already been deployed in South Korea, the USA, China, & several other nations and is pegged to change how we interact with smart devices. While traditionally 5G is associated with smartphones, it is increasingly considered a game-changer in PCs and laptops as well. Here’s why:
Speed: With each new generation of wireless communication, data transfer speed increases 10X to 100X, and 5G is no different. Higher 5G internet speed can power the near-ubiquitous cloud adoption, exponential rise of streaming, graphics-heavy gaming, and interaction of smart devices.
What’s more, 5G will also reduce latency (or delay) in the network, which is essentially the time taken between clicking or selecting something and for that request to be processed. This will make simultaneous processes like streaming and downloading, or video-calling and real-time cloud-based translation much more seamless.
Connectivity: In addition to speed, most 5G laptops will come embedded with the hardware to be cellular-connected, which means you will no longer be dependent on Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. While cellular-connected PCs have been available for some time now (and hold a small percentage of the total market), interest in them has been steadily building with the advent of 5G.
A 5G cellular-connected laptop will eliminate the use of unsecured public WiFi for work and enable the usage of more complex and responsive business cloud-based apps that can work seamlessly with each other.
Should you buy a 5G laptop?
As alluring as it may sound to get your hands on a super-fast 5G laptop, you should consider the following first:
Usage and Need
5G is a new entrant in the tech world, and many of its promises are expected to be delivered in the next few years. Since the technology and network are in nascent stages, most of the current devices are aimed at business users. The current usage patterns of regular customers across the world do not reflect a dire demand for 5G laptops, as there are many robust and dependable laptops to fulfill gaming, personal, and professional needs.
Less than half of people in the USA and just over a third in the UK express interest in using a 5G laptop in the next three years, which shows that for most people, 5G laptops are not on the radar when they’re looking for a new laptop.
Depending on which part of the world you live in, you may already be using 5G or might have to wait for several years. This discrepancy means that even if your home or office has a 5G network, there is no guarantee that you will get uninterrupted access when you move or travel. As a matter of fact, even in countries that have rolled out 5G, it is limited to a few cities and regions only.
What’s more, the recent global political tensions that negatively impacted Huawei (a leading 5G provider) has delayed 5G adoption in several countries significantly. So, there is no guarantee when you will get access to 5G networks, which defeats the purpose of getting a 5G-enabled laptop.
Features and Hardware
The right hardware is critical for 5G devices to perform as per their capacity. Since there are just a few 5G laptops available in the market, they offer limited features and use similar hardware. While many leading names have launched or announced 5G laptops, most use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, and their usage in laptops hasn’t impressed tech enthusiasts so far.
Intel is working with MediaTek on 5G laptops, and they are expected to arrive sometime in 2021, which will increase the diversity of devices and features. Other tech companies are developing their 5G hardware to best support devices as well. So, it might be better to wait and see how different laptops fare against each other.
Finally, the existing entry price point for 5G laptops is way out of budget for the average consumer. A few years down the line, when a wide range of 5G laptops from different brands is easily available, you may expect the prices to be more competitive. But right now, you can get a top-notch high-performing laptop for most of your needs in the same budget as that of an entry-level 5G device.
What’s more, the 5G laptop market is not expected to take off in the near future, and the focus of 5G will continue to be smartphones, which means that it may take a few years for the market to mature. And the device won’t be the in, as data costs remain high and data caps remain low in most parts of the world, which means higher cellular only thing you will be investing and internet bills.
With all these factors, it is easy to see that 5G laptops will not become a ‘thing’ in the next few years. They have undoubtedly created a buzz in the minds of tech leaders and experts but are far from becoming a common device for the average consumer. While there is no doubt that 5G will herald a new age in how we communicate digitally, its benefits in the laptop and PC world will take some time to manifest. Add to this the barriers of network availability and high prices; it would be best to put off your decision to buy a 5G laptop for a while.