5G is already a reality . Vodafone has been the first operator to deploy this new network in Spain in the band of 3.7 GHz in cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville or Malaga, the coastal city where I live.
Vodafone and Xiaomi have lent us Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G to be able to test their network, see how it behaves and, of course, conclude if there are differences with respect to using a 4G device on a day-to-day basis.
I’ve been using the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G for two weeks as my daily phone, one week forcing the 4G connection and another week activating the 5G . In both cases, I have used the phone as personal, that is, messaging, mail, social networks, browsing and multimedia content consumption.
In addition, I have done some synthetic tests to see the download speed and compare it with the speed of 4G, also of Vodafone. These have consisted of downloading movies and series on Amazon Prime Video, playlists on Spotify, heavy applications from Google and speed tests. These tests have been run at different points in Malaga to see if there are variations.
First thing: a couple of notes on Vodafone 5G
The 5G NSA means higher download speed, greater network capacity, less latency and Mobile Edge Computing capabilities . That is, it is a faster and less saturated network, but it will not be until the arrival of 5G SA (with all that that implies in terms of infrastructure and investment) when we can access all the advantages.
Also, it should be noted that Vodafone 5G is only available at unlimited rate (the one with unlimited data) and prepaid plans . For that matter, we have been able to access a SIM card with the first one, so consumption has not been a problem.
On the other hand, the mobile we have used is the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G , which is the same as the standard version only that has the Snapdragon 855 and the Qualcomm X50 modem . As pointed out by Vodafone, “the current 5G terminals that Vodafone sells can be used with the 5G SA network by updating their software.”
The test results: it is faster, and now
Not all applications are optimized to download using 5G , which is why it can be seen that, in some cases, download times do not change radically despite having more speed. From Vodafone they told us that among the optimized ones are Vodafone TV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Ookla (the speed test) and Hatch , a mobile gaming platform in streaming.
It is clear that the download speed is much higher than when we use 4G, up to 10 times, although we have never been able to access, in any test, that Gbps that Vodafone 5G is able to offer. The highest we have achieved is 522 Mbps , half. However, the upload speed does not change so much. In fact, it is curious that in most cases we have had an equal or higher speed using 4G. Remember that we talk about 5G NSA, not 5G SA.
When you play Hatch using 4G, the experience is completely smooth. Except for some occasional pull when there is a lot of graphic load, the avatar responds immediately to our commands and we can play as we would play a game installed on the mobile. With the 5G, those specific pulls are eliminated, but the experience is equally fluid . We have not noticed notable differences in one network or another. With 5G you play well, but it is with 4G and with the WiFi of our house too.
You will see that we put the Plaza de la Merced and that the speed is very low, much lower than the 4G despite being in the 5G. The 5G connection that we can access today is not entirely stable , so we can find ourselves being connected to it and not being able to enjoy the advantages. Let’s say 5G is constantly developing. When we did the tests in the Plaza de la Merced, the 5G gave us an error. In fact, above you can see some screenshots trying to access Xataka. The only way to solve the network problems was to force the 4G connection.