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What is the Difference Between 5G and 4G?

Almost every new cell phone that hits the market proudly announces its cutting-edge 5G capabilities. For those who aren’t sure what the difference is between 5G and 4G models, it’s easy to dismiss the feature as just another marketing fad.

If that sounds like you, you might be missing out on the phenomenal speed, connectivity, and coverage that 5G offers. So, let’s take a look at the difference between outdated 4G cell phones, and their super-slick, super-quick 5G upgrades – and why you should consider making the change.

What is 4G?

Introduced in the 2010s, 4G stands for “fourth generation communications system”. It replaced 3G, which was launched in the late 1990s, and allowed cell phone users to perform data-intensive tasks that usually demanded home Wi-Fi, like browsing the internet.

As internet-enabled technology became commonplace, 3G networks got extremely congested, and often slowed to a crawl. But 4G’s high-speed capabilities made it easy for users to achieve broadband-style connectivity on their mobile devices.

4G essentially works like a radio system, with masts broadcasting 4G signals. Devices communicate with these masts to access or send data across the internet.

How fast is 4G?

In general, 4G is around three times as fast as 3G. It offers a respectable average download speed of 36.4Mbps, allowing you to download a 500MB file in less than two minutes. In particularly good conditions, 4G has a potential download speed of over 90Mbps, with a theoretical maximum of 300Mbps (which would download that file in only 13.33 seconds).

But this information might be a bit misleading. That’s because 4G actually comes in two forms that fall on either side of those average figures.

4G LTE (Long Term Evolution)

Typical download speed: 20MBps

500Mb download: 3 minutes 20 seconds

Theoretical maximum: 150Mbps

4G LTE-Advanced

Typical download speed: 42Mbps

500Mb download: 1 minute 35 seconds

Theoretical maximum: 300Mbps

What is 5G?

As you might have guessed, 5G follows 4G as the “fifth generation communications system”, which first became publically available in 2019. Where 4G gave users reliable connection to the internet, 5G has the potential to connect every machine and device on the planet in one huge network.

Like 4G, it uses masts to relay 5G signal. The difference is that 5G also employs Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM). That means 5G masts modulate a digital signal across multiple channels at once to reduce interference.

In doing so, 5G delivers unbelievably fast speed with almost no latency issues, meaning better reliability, stability, and coverage. The air interface 5G New Radio (NR) further improves on OFDM’s incredible technical feats to provide ultimate connectivity.

How fast is 5G?

5G is around three times faster than 4G, making it a whopping nine times faster than 3G. Even more impressive, 5G is designed to support 100 times the traffic capacity of 4G, so you never need to endure latency or slowdown.

5G-enabled devices give users an average download speed of 100-200Mbps. That means a 500MB file would take as little as 20 seconds to download. It has a potential download speed of 753+ Mbps, with a theoretical maximum of 10-50Gbps. At 5G’s highest performance, you can expect that 500MB file to download in only 0.08 seconds – that’s 0.17 seconds faster than it takes your brain to react to seeing it!

Choosing the right 5G plan

Now that you’ve seen how fast 5G is compared to 4G, it’s hard to dismiss it as just another gimmick. 5G is the next step up in mobile connectivity, and it’s here to stay. That means you need to find the 5G plan that best suits your usage habits.

Verizon offers a wide range of 5G plans to satisfy your cell phone and internet needs. Some also give you plenty of entertaining extras like video streaming, gaming, and music platforms. All Verizon 5G plans include:

  • Unlimited talk & text
  • 4G LTE
  • Verizon Up rewards
  • Mexico & Canada talk, text & data
  • International texting
  • Call Filter spam blocking

Take a look at the Unlimited Plans below and pick out your perfect match. 

If you have any questions, stop into one of our Verizon authorized retailers today. Our team can walk you through the different 5G plans and the latest deals.

Up to $499.99 off Pixel 6a with a new line on any Unlimited plan

5G Ultra Wideband available only in parts of select cities. 5G Nationwide available in 2,700+ cities. $499.99 purchase on device payment or at retail price required. New line required. Less $499.99 promo credit applied to account over 36 mos; promo credit ends if eligibility requirements are no longer met; 0% APR. Specific plans required. Taxes & fees may apply.

Google Pixel 6a

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