5G Mobile Cell Phones in the market in 2019-2020

Timetable of 5G Mobile Cell Phones

“From 2019 to 2020, the top 10 cell phone manufacturers will release 5G mobile phones intensively” —

The above quotation suggest that 5G mobile phones becoming mainstream is “around the corner”

Does it mean that Librem 5 version 1.0 will become obsolete in 2-3 years ?

Well, we need to work with what we can find on the market right now, which is 3G and 4G modems.

The good news is that modem in the Librem 5 will sit on a M.2 card, i.e. it can be replaced!



What are 5G new usage for smartphone?
4G is almost useless from user side as 3G+ allows you to dowload Giga in little time. It is interesting for operators to have more bandwidth and serve more customers.

5G is mainly a matter of latency. Who needs it on their smartphone?

Moreover, old technologies do not become obsolete. 2G is still being used and 5G coverage will take several years to complete.


If Purism ever releases a 5G modem you will be able to change the modem in your Librem 5 with the new one since it’s a M.2 card as @nicole.faerber mentioned.

I totally agree with you, 4G is already more than enough and the only scenario where I would see some use to 5G would be if I was gaming on the go over the Internet.


While all of this is true, the problem is that older generations will get phased out by the carriers over time too. 2G is already being phased out in many regions, 3G will be next in favor of 4G and it is just a matter of time that 4G will be phased out. So even if you do not actually need it you might get forced to use it anyway.



Pardon my ignorance

a) Am i to understand that modem grade is exclusively determined by the mobile carrier ?

b) Having read Yuno’s post, am i to understand that upgrading Librem 5
to 5G modem won’t be necessary for the next (let’s say) 4-5 years to
get full functionality ?

c) What is the roughly estimated time frame of 4G technology being phased out
for advanced mobile carriers ?

Well, first of all we are not a carrier, i.e. we have to rely on what carriers offer to customers. We can not influence that and this offering will be different in the different regions of the world.

Of course the usability of a modem is determined by the networks offered by carriers at a certain location.

I can not talk about the necessity of a modem upgrade for any time frame. As I said before, we are not a carrier and we have no say in what carriers will do or not do. We can only work with what is offered on the market.

The term “full functionality” is debatable. What determines “full”? If you are talking about the latest and greatest then we might get into a problem here. Due to our goals of separating the modem from the host CPU for protecting user’s privacy and security and only using free software, we are very limited in the hardware choices we are presented by suppliers. Of course we want to implement cutting edge technology as much as we can, but we do not want to have to sacrifice our core values for this.

The plans for phasing out 4G have not yet been announced so I can not comment on it. It is also not so easy to guess from history since the step from 2G to 3G is different than 3G to 4G and thus trying to extrapolate this to 4G to 5G would be like trying to predict the future from a crystal ball.

What we can say though is that it is likely that 3G will be phased out much quicker than 2G. Depending on the political pressure on the carriers for a quick and fast 5G roll out it may very well be that phasing out of 3G in favor of 4G/5G will happen rather sooner than later. Since 4G and 5G are not too far away concerning technology I could guess that 4G will stick around quite long even while 5G is being rolled out massively.

The biggest driver for carriers towards 5G is a more efficient use of the limited resource “frequency spectrum”. They can squeeze more traffic into the same frequency band allocation with every new cellular generation, which makes it very attractive to them. Frequency bands have become a very expensive good world wide. Having to use less for the same amount of subscribers or being able to serve more subscribers within the same spectrum is a very strong incentive.

All we can do right now is to watch this development as it unfolds and make the best from it.



I appreciate your taking the time to explain things

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Very welcome :wink:



Quite certainly not. Not even with the original modem. Your link states, that 2020 will be the first year where we’ll see a considerable amount of 5G sales. What this also implies: In 2020, a considerable amount of 4G (maybe even 3G) devices will still be sold. So, carriers are unlikely to turn off 4G in 2021 and 2022.

Consider, that not only the Librem 5 would be affected by turning off 4G, but also some of the Galaxy S10 models, the Galaxy Fold and this years iPhones would turn into bricks, $1000…$2000 each :wink:
And you’re likely to get one of these for Christmas, this year or 2020.

Also, I think there are a lot of existing, embedded devices, like emergency call devices in high class cars. It is unlikely these will stop to work suddenly. Again, expect (some) cars sold in 2020 NOT to be 5G. There might also be long-term contracts preventing a soon shutdown.

Of course, there might be big differences between different carriers and different countries, but I would expect 3 phases:

  • Up-sell customers to expensive 5G phones with expensive data plans (2019…2021) - You don’t think you’ll get it for free, just because carriers profit most, do you? :wink:
  • Make it mainstream, watch 3G disappear (2022…2024)?
  • Maybe, possibly consider phasing it out ~~crystal ball malfunction~~
    I would be surprised if that would happen any time before 2026, and I offer a bet that 4G will work in 2029 in at least in one of US / Germany.

One factor might also be how much pressure carriers have to turn it off. For example, if 90% will be on 5G, do the other 10% block a considerable amount of precious frequencies, or is it not worth it to bother?
And also, how much extra cost is it to maintain 4G/5G in parallel?
@nicole.faerber, as you said 4G/5G are not too different technically, do you happen to know if newly installed 5G equipment is typically backwards compatible?
(I would expect that. And it would make it likely that 4G will be around for quite a while)


This right here. This is the sort of stuff I am so wholeheartedly supporting you guys for. The ability buy a phone that I am able to modify and upgrade and repair for as far into the future as I deem desireable to keep it, with no company telling me to ‘trash it and buy a new one’ every couple years. This is what all products should be like.


we’re years away from 5G’s nationwide commercial rollout—some analysts have predicted that we won’t see widespread deployment of strong 5G services in the U.S. until 2022 or 2023

even six years after the proposed merger, over a quarter of rural customers still wouldn’t have access to 5G service


Sounds like investing in 4G gear at this point in time is reasonably safe.

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that is a sad reality that reached this point in part due to our collective negligence. in order to avoid/delay such things from happening phone manufacturers should configure network settings to auto-default to “manual 2G” mode and let the individual user select 3G/4G/5G or auto-select by carrier-available-by-area depending on individual use case. in this way we also say “hey we still use 2G and we want to keep using it” rather than leaving all-things-auto which says “i don’t care you choose for me!”

the 2G manual mode works better for me rather than the other modes because i mostly only use sms/voice and as less as possible 3G/4G/> which are data heavy streams. in this way i also avoid the rather frequent carrier auto-switch network signal problems and have a better battery economy. i also enjoy the fact that to this day most of air traffic remains 2G/3G in its majority in my region.

the less radio wave polution the better.


I like your post. If we’re fortunate, 2g becomes super cheap and for IOT stuff, like a cheap device I can put in my kids backpack… :v:t2:

Love the m2 interface!!! Tytyty puri.sm!!!

Yes, but as @nicole.faerber pointed out 2G frequencies are increasingly being reassigned for other uses…

I think 5G or Sigfox network will offer low power consumption cheap solution for IOT.

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5G is for city population, lucky “rural” areas will not get it for a long time, if ever.


I hardly even get a 2G signal so when carriers say they will get rid of 2G and 3G for more modern solution that makes me laugh as they don’t care at all for people who lives in small towns in the countryside.

What makes 5G suitable for city population ?

Less latency but less reach ass well, needs more aerials to get the same coverage than 3G & 4G.

The reality is 4G services have yet to reach most rural customers because it cost too much, and this is with 4G towers at maximum of fifteen miles apart depending on terrain and the number of customers.

Rural 5G wireless services would need installing radios every 3,000 feet at maximum, on towers and poles, back to the network backbone. They also require direct fiber connections and electricity to power their 5G radios.

Rural residents will be spared, because of costs, sub 6 GHz and millimeter waves which are not healthy, if you live in a rural area consider yourself lucky.

City population is packed into a dense area making 5G more cost-effective, better bang for the buck.

Aside, they still have not standardized 5G which is telling.

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