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4G vs 5G: What’s the Difference and Which is Right for You?

This article was published on:
July 8, 2022

By nature, technology moves at the speed of light. In doing so, it creates a host of opportunities. At the same time though, this rapid evolution also comes with its set of challenges. Chief among them is our inability to keep up with the changing taxonomy of advancing technology. Between abbreviations, acronyms, and brand-new words, it can be difficult to understand and remember the ever-changing names of various technologies.

However, these names or identifiers are important because they often help us define what a piece of technology is and how it’s different from others. For example, 4G and 5G stand for fourth generation and fifth generation technology while LTE stands for long term evolution. All of these terms are often used to describe device features and capabilities. If we don’t know what they mean and what they do, it becomes difficult for us to choose which ones work best for us.

So, What are 4G and 5G?

Simply put, 5G, or fifth generation, is the latest technology standard for broadband cellular networks being put in place by many companies around the world. 4G, on the other hand, is its predecessor that many of us currently use on our devices.

What’s the Difference Between 4G and 5G?

Every generation takes something from the generation that preceded it and tries to make it better. Similarly, with 5G, technology companies have raised the benchmark of performance that characterizes 4G. Some of the biggest differences between 4G and 5G include:


Latency is defined as the amount of time it takes for a signal to be transmitted between two points, in this case from a tower to a device. 5G offers lower latency, which means that communication and connection between different points are quicker. Combining a fast broadband connection with low latency technology means we can experience faster and more stable Internet connections.

This distinction has implications. High impact things like remote surgery and autonomous driving can benefit greatly from 5G. However, everyday things like live streaming of online videos or online gaming can perform well on 4G too.


5G enables much faster download and upload speeds than its predecessor, 4G. Each subsequent generation of cellular technology improves in speed. After latency, this characteristic is one of the biggest differentiators between 4G and 5G.

With communication and daily business shifting to an online-first environment, faster network speeds mean that the quality of our activities — from completing homework assignments, to downloading videos, to meeting with healthcare professionals online — becomes easier and less frustrating.


As the number of people using the Internet continues to increase, so does network congestion. With limited bandwidth available in a particular area, it is common to experience slow Internet speeds during peak hours in the day. 5G can assist in reducing network congestion by using high bandwidth and high-frequency spectrum bands, helping to speed up the exchange of information between more devices.


One of the most exciting aspects of 5G lies in its scope of revolutionary applications. A few applications of 5G that we can expect to see include: self-driving cars, remote surgeries, and connected homes and offices.

Designed for maximum speed and capacity, 5G has the potential to change several industries including healthcare, retail, and transportation. In doing so it is poised to transform the way we connect with each other and the world around us.

How to Select Between 4G and 5G Devices?

While some of us may conclude that the above differences between 4G and 5G make selecting 5G a no-brainer, that isn’t necessarily the case. We suggest considering a few factors before deciding which type of technology best suits your needs.

Your Budget

Establishing a 5G network is expensive and many service providers pass on these higher costs to customers. This means that the one-time cost for a 5G device is most likely going to be costlier than 4G, at least in the immediate future. Mobile Citizen offers Internet service with unlimited data on 5G devices for the same cost as we do 4G devices.

It is important you consider your budget, your Internet requirements, and the communities you serve before deciding on picking one device over another.

Your Environment

One of the bigger advantages of 5G technology is that it allows more devices to connect to one network. If you often experience a drop in Internet connection or feel frustrated by slow speed, it may mean there is network congestion in your area caused by too many devices.

Your team may also find themselves working in the field often. If you find that their connection is unstable, resulting in them not being able to do their jobs well, then you may want to consider a 5G device. However, 4G is still dominant in the United States and will continue to be so for at least the next few years.

Your Usage
If you find yourself downloading several high-definition videos every day, conducting remote meetings with people who may be scattered around the country, or needing extremely high download and upload speeds, then 5G may work better for you than 4G.

For example, if you are a telehealth nonprofit helping your community conduct virtual visits with their healthcare providers, and you find that the video lags often, or that you are unable to download a report while simultaneously staying on the video call, you may want to consider a 5G device.

However, in most cases, a 4G device provides a robust and reliable Internet connection that works well for most everyday cases.

5G Will Revolutionize Our World But 4G Will Stay (At Least for Now)

Each generation of cellular devices has changed the market significantly, paving the way for increased connectivity. With its affordable costs, 4G technology was instrumental in advancing digital equity and continues to be used by most people across the country.

From impacting several industries to helping bring the Internet to more rural areas, 5G promises to bring with it a revolution that has a huge impact on our world, but 4G isn’t going away any time soon and will continue to increase the interconnectedness of people and places.

Mobile Citizen offers 4G LTE and 5G hotspot devices for qualified organizations. To explore opportunities, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603.