On the very top portion of your phone screen, you will typically find information such as your battery percentage, your network provider, and a pairing of numbers or letters that read “4G,” “LTE” and soon “5G.”

Your battery life and provider and self-explanatory, but what does the latter mean? What is 4G and 5G, and why is it important for a functional phone?

What is a G?

The G in (insert number)G stands for Generation; specifically a certain generation of wireless network technology.

The greater the number, the newer the generation, and the greater the possibilities for technology.

History of the G

1G: 1G, or first-generation wireless network technology, was first introduced in 1979 to Tokyo residents. By the mid-80s, it became available to all of Japan, America, and Canada. 1G allowed people to talk to each other wirelessly. Soon after came the first handheld cellphone.

2G: Introduced in Finland in 1991, 2G was a significant change from 1G. It allowed you to send messages and travel with roaming services, prevent people from dropping in on your calls, improved sound quality and had improved download speeds. Talking, texting, and downloading became popular, and the demand for data speeds grew.

2.5G and 2.75G: Introduced improved data services such as GPRS

3G: With little success, by 1998 3G gave people a better mobile internet experience. Users could access data from anywhere, emailing became the norm, and video streaming came into fruition.

3.5G: Gave people a truly mobile internet experience

4G: Introduced in 2008, 4G offered today’s standard mobile services. It provides quick web access, high-quality streaming services, and HD videos.

4G LTE (Long Term Evolution): Doubled data speeds

5G: The latest generation is the best to come yet. Introduced in 2018, 5G wireless network technology supports more than just fast internet speeds. Experts say 5G is 10 times faster than 4G. But it also connects people to more devices than ever before and will change the way they live and work. With this great improvement, new technology that supports consumers, businesses, and infrastructure will start to roll out and the competition for the largest 5G networks will become fierce.

Older devices unfortunately don’t support the newer connectivity standard 5G. In the event that you have an older phone that doesn’t support it, it may be time to sell your old phone and upgrade to a new one that supports 5G.

What are the Benefits of 5G? 

Like mentioned before, the benefits of 5G connections go beyond internet speed.

One of the most significant benefits of 5G is that it reduces latency. What this means is that the time it takes a phone or similar connected device to make a request from a server and get a response becomes almost instantaneous.

Because of 5G’s greater bandwidth, the network will be able to manage more device connections than previous networks. Not only will you continue to keep service in large crowds and tunnels, but connect devices such as self-driving cars and smart toothbrushes.

How do You Access 5G? 

Only people with a 5G-enabled device can access 5G connections. Only places that have 5G towers, are getting 5G service. It’s a roll-out of antennas across the nation, which is going to take time.

This does not mean that your 4G device will become useless. 4G is predicted to be around for a long time, even after 5G becomes more prominent.

The only thing to do is to update your device. Apple recently released the iPhone 12, the first Apple device to support 5G networks. Samsung, Motorola, LG, and several other companies have also released devices supported by 5G.

You have several options if you are interested in owning a device that supports 5G. If your phone is in perfect condition and has not aged out, you can trade it in with your carrier for an update. If you own a newer phone that is not in the best condition, such as one with broken back glass, companies such as AT&T and Verizon will not accept it until you have repaired it. There are many companies such as iFixYouri, who have a team of device experts and high-quality service, your device will look brand new and you’ll have a better chance at trading it in.

If your phone is in great condition but a model from years ago, companies may not accept it because it is considered old and outdated inventory. Rather than hold on to a device that has no use to you, trade it in or sell it for some cash.