For all its revolutionary potential, 5G has really only made smartphones worse so far — at least, until this week’s iPhone 12 announcement.

The adoption of 5G, which is technically offered by all three major U.S. carriers yet either irrelevant to or unusable for most people, has only made smartphones bigger, more power-hungry and thus, more expensive. 5G is in part why the Galaxy S20 costs $250 more than its predecessor. And you have to be extra careful about where and how you buy a 5G phone, because only certain devices can take advantage of certain networks.

Thus far, this is the compromise we’ve had to accept: because of 5G, phone buying today is far more complicated, for no immediate benefit. Rather, carriers and phone makers have hopelessly tried to entice us with the promise that one day, you might be standing on a street corner in downtown Minneapolis when the inspiration would strike to download the entire third season of Schitt’s Creek in less than a minute. You’d do it, thankful that you spent an extra $300 for the privilege, and wonder how you ever lived any other way.

(Image credit: Apple)

Sure, Apple’s iPhone 12 unveiling checked off a few of those trite 5G buzzwords, citing “amazing possibilities” and even marking a surprise guest appearance from the CEO of Verizon. Thankfully though, none of that mattered when the keynote concluded and we finally saw the prices: $699 for the base iPhone 12 mini, $799 for the iPhone 12, $999 for the iPhone 12 Pro, and $1,099 for the top-of-the-line iPhone 12 Pro Max.


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