Some of you reading this might actually own a 5G-capable smartphone. Most of you do not. Be that as it may, a recent survey of 2,000 Americans who are at least 18 years old and own a smartphone found that nearly a third of respondents believed they owned a 5G handset, including iPhone owners even though a 5G iPhone does not yet exist.
Let us be clear—despite the survey results, 1 in 3 Americans do NOT own a 5G handset. We know this because there are very few 5G smartphones available. For example, Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G only recently debuted, and it starts at $1,299.99. There are a spattering of other 5G options, but not many. Technically, Motorola is among them with its Moto Z3 and Z4, but only by way of a 5G Moto Mod add-on.
"Whilst 5G may be the word on everyone’s lips, many Americans don’t truly understand this upgrade to the mobile network. Around a third of Americans state that they own a 5G-capable device, despite the select choice of devices, the limited availability, and the huge cost," said Decluttr, a refurbished phone service.
Even so, 62 percent of respondents indicated that they owned a 5G-capable device. And as you can see in the graph above, many iPhone owners fall into that camp. Ready for the kicker? The majority of them also claimed to have noticed improvements to their mobile service while using a 5G network, despite 5G networks being nowhere near widely available at this early stage.
How can that be? Well, 5G is obviously confusing to the layperson. On top of that, we have AT&T pushing its "5G Evolution" (5G E) branding. In our opinion, that is a shady business practice, because 5G E is not actually 5G—it's basically 4G LTE Advanced.
Baloney marketing is not the only culprit, though. The survey reveals that users on all four major wireless carriers are confused about 5G connectivity. If the results scale to smartphone owners at large, then potentially millions of Americans mistakenly think they own a 5G handset, when clearly that is not the case.
This speaks to the disconnect between technobabble like 5G and 4G LTE, and the average consumer. The problem is, wireless carriers may not be all that eager to clarify things. AT&T has certainly gone in the complete opposite direction.
One day 5G will become as commonplace as 4G is right now. Today is not that day, however.