Since 2018 smartphone manufacturers have been rolling out smartphones that are 5G capable, but the appetite for the phones has been lacking given the unavailability of 5G networks in many territories. Countries such as the UK, the US, China and a few others have managed to roll out 5G networks in a few places in their respective countries, but not much has been going on elsewhere. In Africa, only South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria are known to have started implementing 5G networks. The scarcity of 5G has made many including Kenyans to shy away from adding that extra dime to purchase a 5G smartphone. Going forward however, you are encouraged to not shy away from spending that hard earned cash on a 5G smartphone.
As it did when it was rolling out 4G, Safaricom has earmarked Westlands and a few other posh estates in Nairobi for the initial rollout of 5G in Kenya. This initial rollout should be as soon as this week, or next week. It is rumoured that Safaricom has actually tested their 5G tech and achieved speeds of up to 750Mbps, which is one of the slowest 5G speeds available. Theoretically, it is expected that 5G speeds will one day reach 100Gbps, which will make the tech a 100 times faster than the fastest 4G speed. With such speeds, one will be able to download a one hour 4K movie in less than 6 seconds.
Don’t feel bad about the speeds Safaricom has opted for though. The biggest problem with 5G tech especially those promising to deliver past 1Gbps is obstacles – houses, trees, and any other physical structure between the router and the receiver. To avoid this, telcos have decided to implement 5G that deliver less than 1Gbps, which are still 10 or 20 times faster than the fastest 4G, but can have a long range in penetration.
The way Safaricom will implement 5G is to have a wireless antenna create connection with a nearby tower, then this antenna to send signals to 5G receivers (e.g. smartphones), within the radius of the connection.
With the announcement that before the end of the year probably all of Nairobi will be covered in Safaricom’s 5G, and most likely other premium towns such as Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Thika, Machakos, Nyeri, Eldoret to join the bandwagon as we leap into 2021, those of you who are planning the buy the phones schedules for 2020 will be better off opting for a 5G smartphone. The phone manufacturers know that not many are enticed into buying the 5G smartphones just yet, and that’s why they are including the tech only in their flagships – and not only that, in the premium versions of the flagships. Samsung for example is planning to launch the Samsung Galaxy S20 in February 11th 2020, but that won’t be the only phone to be launched. The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is also in the lineup and will rock the 5G tech.
But you don’t have to wait for the 2020 flagships to come by. As I mentioned earlier, manufacturers have been channing out 5G tech in their smartphones since 2018, and today one can buy a 5G smartphone from the popular OEMs. Phones already in the market with the 5G tech packed inside include Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, Huawei Mate X, Huawei Mate 30 Pro 5G, Oppo Reno 5G, LG V50 ThinQ 5G, Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and many others.