How do you know for sure that the iPhone 12 is connected to 5G?

We received notice from iCulture reader Marco, who are on 5G iPhone 12 even though there is no 5G in its subscription at all. Marco is a customer at T-Mobile and still has a somewhat older Unlimited subscription. T-Mobile provides free access to the 5G network, but that’s not the case with some previously purchased Unlimited plans. From a screenshot that Marco shared with us, it appears that he can get extra access to the 5G network for € 2. But how is it possible that the iPhone 5G anyway indicates?

The whole incident reminded us of a test of 5G networks that Tweakers in September has performed. With the 5G devices Galaxy S20, OnePlus Nord, Moto G 5G Plus and Xiaomi Mi 10 Lite available at that time, it was checked whether you really have 5G if the device indicates this in the status bar. Bee Vodafone In 30 percent of the cases, 5G was wrongly in the picture, while the device was actually connected to a 4G mast. At T-Mobile, 5G was even wrongly in the picture in 55 percent of the cases. The network of KPN during the test offered too little coverage for 5G to be able to test properly.

5g network test from Tweakers

Samsung turned out to be the most honest with the device manufacturers and OnePlus and Xiaomi the most unfair. They most often showed 5G in the status bar, when it was not at all. The ‘false’ representation is therefore different for both providers and device manufacturers.

Well we hoped that Apple would do things a bit neater with the iPhone 12 and would only show 5G in the status bar, if there is actually a connection to the 5G network. But that turns out not to be the case. Apple has made a special choice.

5G test lab at Apple5G test lab at Apple
The 5G test lab at Apple.

iPhone 12 shows best available network
The Verge found that the iPhone still shows the 5G icon in the status bar when connected to a 4G / LTE network. It is an indicator of the best available network at your location. Only when you download a movie or start another data-hungry application will 5G actually be used.

The Verge writes:

What’s weird is that when the iPhone is limiting you to LTE speeds, it will still display the 5G icon in the status bar. It’s now an indicator of the best speed available to you, not the actual type of connection that’s actively in use.

To test we put out a prepaid ticket T-Mobile in the iPhone 12. Even then it is possible to 5G On even though we don’t have access to the 5G network at all. In that case, you can see 5G in the status bar, while you don’t have it at all.

5G Auto iPhone5G Auto iPhone

How can you be sure you have 5G?
By default, the iPhone 12 is set to Smart Data, which will automatically switch between 4G and 5G depending on your needs. If you want to make sure you have 5G, you can do the following:

  • Put in the screen above 5G On On. In that case, the iPhone will always use 5G, if 5G coverage is available at your location. This obviously nibbles a bit on your useful life: the battery lasts about 2 hours shorter, according to the first measurements. You also have none guarantee that you are always on 5G, because in places where the network has not yet been rolled out, the iPhone will always revert to 4G.
  • Check whether your data bundle actually offers 5G. In Marco’s example above, we were initially misled. T-Mobile offered anyway with all Unlimited data bundles 5G for free? This does not always appear to be the case, for example if you have an older type of bundle. The best way to check this is to log in to your provider and see if you can purchase an extra bundle. Bee T-Mobile in Vodafone you pay € 2 extra for 5G access, if your subscription does not include it as standard. Bee KPN it is free with all plans, but as you could see in the graph from Tweakers, you will get KPN rarely be on 5G.

5G maximum speed mmWave5G maximum speed mmWave
This maximum download speed is not yet achievable in the Netherlands (and in the US only in a few places if you are on the right street corner). Vodafone promises a maximum of 1 Gbps, but in practice we did not get more than 400 Mbps.

  • Do a speed test. Unfortunately, this does not always provide 100% certainty. It may be that your 5G mast is slightly less favorable compared to the 4G mast. So we left earlier in our iPhone 12 first impression see that 4G sometimes gives higher speeds than 5G. In the Netherlands, the 4G networks often already offer very good coverage (in contrast to Germany), so high speed is not always proof that you are on 5G.

Speed ​​5G connectionSpeed ​​5G connection

Are you with a budget provider such as Simyo or Dutch new? Then you know at least one thing for sure: you don’t have 5G, no matter how much you would like to. These providers only offer 4G bundles with speeds that vary between 5 Mbps (!) And 256 Mbps.

By the way, there was good news this week in the field of budget providers: subsidiary Ben van T-Mobile now transfer all customers to the 4G network. Since 2014, Ben customers have been able to use 4G at an additional cost. Yet many customers are still on an old 3G subscription, but that is now coming to an end: all customers will be transferred.

Are you looking for a 5G-provider? Then check out our round-up of speeds with the various providers and see which providers you can take out 5G bundles with (spoiler: there are not many).

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