So iPhone 12 will support 5G... but where?

Today we're taking a peek at what sort of 5G you'll get with your new iPhone 12. To be particularly blunt: You don't get magical 5G speed around the world just because you've received a new iPhone 12. Unlike Apple's move from 3G to 4G LTE speeds in the iPhone, this move is more about preparation than it is about immediate usable product delivery.

It seems like a lifetime ago that Apple released their first 4G LTE iPhone. Even after companies like HTC and Samsung released their first LTE smartphones to the biggest carrier in the USA, Verizon, Apple didn't have a 4G LTE iPhone for sale.

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Back before the iPhone 5 was released in the year 2012, we asked this same question: So the iPhone 5 will support 4G LTE... but whose? Much as it was then, even though the 4G LTE rollout was far further than 5G is today, we're sure to see some new iPhone buyers assuming they'll get the highest 5G speeds right out the gate.

When 4G LTE was released, it was a bit of a mish-mash of services. The fastest data speeds with Sprint most certainly weren't the same as they were with AT&T, and an iPhone purchased with T-Mobile connectivity would not connect to the entirety of Verizon's network.

Now, things are... actually worse. We're expecting plenty of 5G iPhone confusion in the very near future.

There are at least a couple sorts of connectivity that are called "5G", and they're certainly not created equal. Most 5G connectivity is described with one of two terms: Sub-6 and mmWave.

Internationally, you'll most likely be connecting to Sub-6 5G, the sort of 5G that most networks around the world have decided will be best for the masses. Here in the United States, the fastest 5G networks use a blend of Sub-6 and mmWave.

The widest maps of "5G" coverage here in the USA today deliver Sub-6 connectivity, while mmWave is limited to small portions of the most heavily populated cities. Regardless of what iPhone 12 you purchase, you will not get the fastest 5G speeds across the entirety of the United States. The fastest 5G speeds, with mmWave, are still largely limited to big cities.

Before you purchase ANY smartphone for 5G, you'll want to check to make sure your city has 5G coverage at all. If your city – and the areas you travel regularly – aren't fully covered by your network of choice with 5G data, your new iPhone won't deliver the fastest speeds described by the advertisements you've seen on TV or the internet.

At this moment, before you go buy a brand new iPhone 12 with 5G coverage, be extra careful with how and why you make that purchase. If you're looking for faster data, specifically, do the research about your home area to make certain your network of choice has the coverage in the first place. And cross your fingers for that mmWave right out the gate!