AT&T now says only new devices will get 5G
5G is an absolute mess.
AT&T has gone back on its earlier promises of bringing its mid-band 5G spectrum to older devices. That means even last year’s iPhone 13 won’t be able to access the carrier’s new speedy service (via CNET).
5G promised faster mobile data, better call quality, and more. What it has turned into is a mess. See, there are three versions of 5G: low-band, mid-band, and high-frequency millimeter-wave.
Millimeter wave is the fastest but only works over short distances. Low-band is slower but has more range. Mid-band is the compromise between the two.
Most of AT&T’s frequency spectrum is in the mid-band range. That’s good, it means fast speeds and good coverage.
What’s not so good is how often AT&T has flip-flopped on its promises of device support. In January, the carrier said only flagship devices from 2022 and newer would work with the new mid-band range. Then in August, they said more devices would qualify.
Now it’s September, and the promise has been walked back. Only flagships from 2022 will get support for the 3.45GHz mid-band 5G.
Two hotspots from Netgear also make the cut, the Nighthawk M6 and the Nighthawk M6 Pro.
Take Control of Your Health with Fitbit Charge 6! Save up to $60 - Limited Time Offer
Get accurate insights into your heart rate, calories burned, sleep patterns, and more. Achieve your fitness goals while prioritizing your overall well-being.
That’s it. That doesn’t mean other devices can’t access AT&T’s 5G network, however. It just means they’re going to have a limited amount of coverage.
It gets worse. AT&T has a practice of locking users into 36-month contracts by covering their device costs. That means many customers will be on 5G capable phones but unable to access significant chunks of AT&T’s network.
Maybe AT&T is hoping this will spur device upgrades. Our bet is that it’ll spur switching to another carrier, like T-Mobile, which has the best 5G network right now.
- You’ll soon be able to use your Chromebook as a 5G hotspot
- The Pixel 6a features a stellar camera, 5G, and only costs $449
- How to take a screenshot on the Samsung Galaxy S21
- How to try T-Mobile’s 5G home internet for free