In the past few months, Apple and Samsung have released their flagship phones – the iPhone 12 and Galaxy Note 20 – which are equipped with 5G, promising faster download speeds and lower latency when used with 5G mobile carriers. Taking a leap into 5G can be expensive, with the cheapest Apple iPhone 12 Mini starting at $1149 and the Samsung Note 20 starting from $1398 with 5G.
With their high starting prices, is it worth to buy the iPhone 12 or the Samsung Note 20 Ultra right now? In this article, we will discuss if you should buy the Samsung Note 20 or iPhone 12 if you do not need the core selling point of these phones – the 5G technology.
Note: For discussion in this article, the iPhone 12 may also refer to the iPhone 12 Pro Max as the most powerful model of the iPhone 12 series. Likewise, the Samsung Note 20 may also refer to Samsung Note 20 Ultra as the most powerful model of the Samsung Note 20 series.
#1 5G is The Future of Mobile Networks
During the release of the iPhone 12 and the Samsung Note 20, both companies placed heavy emphasis on the 5G capabilities of these smartphones. Buying the iPhone 12 and the Samsung Note 20 with 5G connectivity means that you will be among the first in Singapore to enjoy ultra-fast mobile speeds. On top of downloading a movie in less than 30 seconds on your phone, you can enjoy video calls on the go with reduced lag time on your iPhone 12 and Samsung Note 20 Ultra.
As 5G technology becomes mainstream, your iPhone 12 and Samsung Note 20 which are already 5G-capable will remain usable. Meanwhile, others using phones that are not 5G-capable may find themselves needing to seek out upgrading options.
#2 The iPhone 12 and the Samsung Note 20 Ultra Comes with the Latest Features
Both the iPhone 12 and Samsung Note 20 comes with the latest features such as newer cameras and better smartphone chips.
The iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max are the first to feature Dolby Vision recording and feature a LiDAR Sensor, which means that you will be able to record videos with 60 times more colours and take 87% better photos in low light conditions. With the new A14 chips which is the first 5-nanometre chip in the industry, Apple promises up to 50% faster CPU and GPU performance than any other smartphone chips.
Similarly, the specifications found on the Samsung Note 20 Ultra are no slouch as well, featuring Laser Autofocus technology for faster and more accurate focus when using the camera. Equipped with 12GB of RAM, the Samsung Note 20 Ultra features the biggest RAM size in the market on a smartphone, making it one of the most powerful and capable Android smartphones. In comparison, most smartphones come with 8GB of RAM on average.
At the time of writing, these phones are two of the most powerful offerings in the market, which will stay capable for the next few years. Other phone users may find themselves looking to upgrade their phones not far from now as their devices become obsolete.
#3 Extra Cost For 5G Does Not Guarantee Full Services
Most mobile providers require to pay an additional cost for access to 5G networks, which starts from an additional $10 per month on top of your regular mobile subscription. Yet, with that extra cost, you may not be able to enjoy the full services of 5G if you were to get the iPhone 12 or Samsung Note 20 Ultra now. According to IMDA guidelines, full 5G speeds and coverage will only be available when 5G standalone (SA) is deployed by 2025.
Before then, 5G will be based on the non-standalone (NSA) format which works on the existing 4G antennas, resulting in smaller coverage areas across the island. For now, you will only be connected to 5G when you are outdoors, and you are unable to utilise the lowest possible latency standards of 5G. When your location is not equipped with 5G, subscribers will be connected to 4G networks automatically. Among the list of non-coverage areas are some popular spots such as Novena, Marina Parade and one-north.
If you wish to get experience 5G (albeit partially due to the incomplete deployment), you will have to choose from the three major mobile carriers in Singapore. Other mobile providers such as Circles.Life and GOMO are unfortunately still not onboard with 5G technology. While there are plans for Circles.Life to deliver 5G to its consumers by 2020, there is no confirmed launch date published at the time of writing.
#4 Limited Improvement From Their Immediate Predecessor
While it is true that the iPhone 12 and Samsung Note 20 comes with the best specifications you can currently get, you will not get very noticeable improvements if you compare it with their immediate predecessors, once you remove the 5G technology.
In the case of the Samsung Note 20 Ultra, the direct predecessor is the Samsung Note 10+. In terms of performance and benchmark, the improvements in these phones are marginal. While there are improvements to minor details such as its stylus features, the improvements do not justify getting an upgrade from to its direct successor.
Similarly for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, the only major upgrade from the iPhone 11 Pro Max is the addition of the LiDAR sensor. The processor found on the newest iPhone 12 Pro Max does not provide massive improvements but rather, marginal ones.
With such marginal improvements on both devices from its predecessor, it may make more economical sense to buy the previous iPhones 11 Pro Max or the Samsung Note 10+, which currently retails at $1651 and $1398 respectively for the 256GB models. Comparing that to the price of the latest offerings, that would amount to savings of $318 and $300 respectively.
5G is Not the Sole Motivating Factor When Considering the New Phone Upgrades
There are many features other than the 5G support which may motivate you to get top-of-the-line phones even if you have no intentions to use 5G for the time being.
Both the iPhone 12 Max and the Note 20 Ultra features industry-leading features such as advanced camera sensors and high processing power that will remain powerful for years to come. If you are currently using an older, less powerful phone, it may make sense to upgrade to either one of these devices that are less likely to see a drop in performance in the near future. Additionally, as 5G becomes a norm in Singapore, you can switch over immediately without buying a new phone. In contrast, if you own a recent phone like the last generation iPhones or Samsung Note, it may make sense to wait for the next iteration of smartphones.
If you do not intend to get a phone with 5G, you can consider options such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 (LTE), Samsung Galaxy S20 (LTE) or the iPhone 11 Pro, priced at $1,398, $998, and $1388 respectively. The specifications on these devices are still relatively powerful to provide a smooth phone user experience for the near future.