Bharti Airtel announced earlier this week that it will launch 5G services in India by the end of the month. Rival telco Reliance Jio is also rumored to announce its upcoming 5G network on August 15. Operators are finally close to launching the next-generation mobile network in India, here’s a quick look at everything you need to know about 5G in India.
What is 5G? How is it different from 4G networks?
The fifth generation of mobile networks, 5G, is a global standard for wireless networks that improves upon the capabilities of 4G. 5G not only brings much higher connection speeds, but also opens up new uses in gaming, entertainment and other aspects thanks to its high bandwidth and low latency.
5G speeds can be up to 100 times faster than 4G speeds, allowing users to download full-length movies in seconds and enjoy more deeply connected technologies such as augmented reality gaming.
5G networks: mmWave and sub-6GHz
There are two kinds of 5G networks and they differ significantly. mmWave 5G is super fast and has the lowest latency, but its network is often limited to a small area. On the other hand, 5G networks below 6 GHz are slower (but still very fast compared to 4G networks) but have wider network coverage.
The 5G network is likely to focus on 5G below 6 GHz, like many other countries. Sub-6 GHz networks are ideal because of their long range and easier setup. Meanwhile, mmWave 5G, while better, requires users to be in close proximity to 5G signal towers. This also means that many more towers will be needed for wide mmWave coverage, which is not possible for all areas.
5G bands: What are they and how many do you need?
Smartphones that have been launched with 5G support in the past few years have all listed the number of 5G bands they will support, with newer smartphones even supporting 9 or 12 bands. But what are these bands and why are they important?
The 5G network operates on a range of frequencies. These are classified into several smaller frequency bands called frequency bands. While some bands receive low frequencies (wide coverage, slow speed), others receive medium frequencies, and some bands receive high range frequencies (high speed, limited coverage).
The number of bands your phone has defines the different frequencies of the 5G network it will be able to receive. This should mean that a phone with more frequency bands should be able to get better 5G reception than a phone with fewer bands, right? Well, the answer is yes, but also no.
More 5G bands are important on 5G smartphones, but more important is which bands the phones support. The most useful bands in India for 5G rollout are likely to be mid-range bands such as the n78 band. If you have several mid-range bands that cover the mid-range, your phone will be able to use 5G over more of the spectrum.
However, multiple bands that target the lower and higher end will determine how well your device can handle 5G in extreme conditions. In theory, if you’re within range of a high-frequency network and your phone doesn’t support high-frequency bands, you’d miss out on top speeds. Similarly, if you are in a remote area where only low frequency bands have some coverage, you may miss network reception entirely.
We were not yet sure in which spectrum bands the various telecom companies in India would operate. For now, if your smartphone supports 3-4 bands or more, you should have comfortable access to 5G networks in most regions.
Which smartphones support 5G?
For a phone to support 5G, it must have a 5G-compatible processor. To check if your device has a 5G processor, go to Settings/About phone and check the processor under Hardware. If you have the chip mentioned below, your phone will support 5G networks.
Qualcomm: Snapdragon 865, Snapdragon 865+, Snapdragon 870, Snapdragon 888, Snapdragon 888+, Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Snapdragon 695, Snapdragon 765/765G, Snapdragon 750/750G, Snapdragon 768/768G, Snapdragon 778/778G/778+
MediaTek: The entire MediaTek Dimensity series from Dimensity 700 to Dimensity 9000. MediaTek Helio chipsets and other series do not support 5G.
Samsung: Exynos 9820, Exynos 9825, Exynos 990, Exynos 2100, Exynos 2200
Here is a list of all smartphones from popular brands that support 5G networks, even before the launch in India.
Apple – iPhone 12 series, iPhone 13 series, iPhone SE 2022
Samsung – Galaxy S-series (S20 and higher), Galaxy S20 FE 5G, Galaxy S21 FE 5G, Select A-series, M-series models.
OnePlus – OnePlus 8 Series, OnePlus 9 Series, OnePlus 10 Series, OnePlus Nord Series
Xiaomi – Xiaomi 12-series, Xiaomi 11-series, Mi 10-series, Redmi Note 11 Pro+, Redmi Note 11T, Redmi Note 10T
Poco – Poco F4 5G, Poco M4 5G, Poco M4 Pro 5G
Oppo – Reno 8, Reno 7, Reno 6, Select Oppo A, K, F series phones
Vivo – V21, V21e, V23-series, T1-series, X60-series, X70-series, X80-series
iQOO – iQOO 9 series, iQOO 7-series, iQOO Z5, iQOO Z6, iQOO Z6 Pro
The real me – Realme GT series, Realme GT 2 series, Realme X7, Realme X7 Max, Realme X7 Pro, Realme Narzo 50 5G, Realme Narzo 30 5G, Realme 8/8s/8 Pro 5G, Realme 9/ 9 Pro 5G