5G has been touted as the future of cellular networks, but new tests from PC Magazine (opens in new tab) have revealed that Verizon’s "nationwide 5G" can actually be slower than 4G on some phones. With an extensive 4G LTE network, Verizon is one of the best cell phone providers (opens in new tab) out there, but its 5G network has been let down by its DSS features, according to the report.
The race to roll out 5G has in some instances placed quantity over quality, with providers competing to offer coverage to as many customers as possible as more and more companies, from Apple to OnePlus, release 5G-enabled smartphones (opens in new tab).
Verizon (opens in new tab)’s recently-announced "nationwide 5G" leans on its impressive 4G network, using DSS (dynamic spectrum sharing) to use elements of its existing channels. According to PC Magazine, “Verizon customers will see that coveted 5G icon pop up. But it's all for show.” It's worth noting that this is all relative. Verizon's 4G LTE is so good, it's actually quicker than rival 5G speeds (at low band) from T-Mobile and AT&T. Plus, most of the better NVME networks actually run on Verizon's 4G LTE too.
PC Mag's tests were done on an iPhone 12 (opens in new tab) in New York, and revealed that DSS 5G was regularly slower than the 4G LTE equivalent, and “rarely faster”. If you’re affected by this, here’s what to do.
Here’s how to turn off your 5G
Verizon customers can use cell phone coverage maps (opens in new tab) to tell what their local 5G system is. Verizon offers a fast and powerful UWB 5G system in some major cities, but the DSS 5G exists to fill in the gaps as it rolls out its full-power UWB. If your 5G symbol on your phone display is followed by the letters “UW”, that shows you’re on the high-power 5G. If not, consider turning it off.
If you are experiencing slower 5G than 4G, the simple solution is to turn off your 5G. This isn’t hard to do, although not all phones allow it. On an iPhone:
- Go to settings
- Cellular data options
- Voice and data
- Switch to LTE
This will manually disconnect from any available 5G in your area. Although it’s worth checking your specific handset, most Android phones don’t have the option to switch off 5G. If you want to know if it's possible on your Android, you'll find the option under Settings / Connection / Mobile Network. However, if you’ve yet to splash out on a 5G-enabled smartphone, you can rest assured that you may be experiencing the best cell speeds in your area.
If you're paying for 5G speeds on your cell plan, now might be a good opportunity to reassess that plan, as you may not always be getting the speeds you think you are, and could be saving money if you're always out of the UWB areas.