ROG Zephyrus G14 x Alan Walker

Let’s take a step back and look into the whole market of smartphones right now. We have a lot of mid-range smartphones released over the past few weeks – and they’re putting a heavy emphasis on 5G. But let’s face it – 5G is not available in many parts of the world, including Malaysia.

But for smartphones to remain at a certain low price point, there will be sacrifices made for the sake of 5G. If no sacrifices are made to the smartphone and still wants to retain 5G, then the price will be high. In today’s topic, let’s talk about it.

ASUS ExpertBook B5 Flip

There are many different smartphone brands that are doing this now. We encountered a few recently – one of them is Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 10 5G.

In our review, we did talk about how the Redmi Note 10 5G is actually quite expensive for what it has to offer. Of course, the main feature highlight – 5G – is unusable as of now. We can’t even test the 5G performance of those phones!

And I think we already know why the Redmi Note 10 Pro – which I praised a lot – doesn’t have 5G. Because of its price point, if 5G is to be retrofitted into it, then the price will increase even more. Again, 5G can’t even be used until however many more months or years.

Huawei Nova 7 SE

It’s not just Xiaomi that’s doing this. Huawei heavily promoted 5G on the Nova 7 SE last year despite 5G not being available anytime soon – and the phone was extremely expensive. That is because Huawei doesn’t want to make any sacrifices for the sake of 5G.

And again, that phone is just not worth the price. In our review last year, we said something along the lines of “by the time 5G is available, there will be much better and cheaper mid-range 5G phones in the market.”

It’s safe to say that I’m right – but those mid-range 5G phones are still not as good as their 4G counterparts.

The perfect example of this is Samsung. Look at the Samsung Galaxy A42 which sacrifices many things – especially the screen resolution at only 720p – for the sake of 5G. Samsung also released a few phones with 4G and 5G counterparts but the differences are more than just the name alone.

Samsung Galaxy A32 4G vs Galaxy A32 5G
Lots of sacrifices, just for the sake of the currently-unusable 5G.

Like the Galaxy A32 4G and Galaxy A32 5G. I personally will recommend the Galaxy A32 4G more than the 5G version.

Is buying a mid-range 5G smartphone viable now?

No. Obviously not at this point in time, but I’m not saying it’s not worth it at all.

It truly depends on where you live. If somehow 5G is already affordable, has good-enough coverage, and you desperately need a 5G phone – then these mid-range phones will suit your needs.

POCO M3 Pro 5G
The POCO M3 5G is currently the cheapest 5G smartphone in the market.

If not, then it’s totally pointless. Take Malaysia for example – because we live in Malaysia. I have no idea when Malaysia is going to have 5G, yet smartphone brands are promoting their mid-range 5G smartphone since last year.

Like what we said in the Huawei Nova 7 SE review, by the time 5G has good-enough coverage and is affordable, there are a lot of better mid-range 5G smartphones in the market by then.

Seriously though, I have no idea when 5G will even be available here in Malaysia. Perhaps 2022? Maybe 2023? Imagine how many more mid-range 5G smartphones will be in the market.

Remember – for 5G to be viable, it needs to be:

  • Have decent coverage so that 5G can be used in more than just metropolitan areas
  • Affordable enough for the mass market to actually switch to 5G

What I highly recommend is to buy a phone that you actually need right now. 4G is still plenty fine.


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