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5G vs 4G Main Differences

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

As Mobile Networks Continue to Evolve, we are Exploring the Main Differences between 5G and 4G.

Differences between 4G and 5G

5G Networks were first introduced in 2019 and were expected to enable a wide range of new services and applications. Before we go into more depth, the different Mobile Network generations refer to the different stages of mobile network technology development.

There have been several generations of mobile network technology, including:

1G (1980s)

The first generation of mobile networks, 1G, was introduced in the early 1980s. It used analogue technology and offered very limited data speeds, typically around 2.4 kbps. 1G Networks were primarily used for voice calls and did not support data services.

2G (1990s)

The second generation of Mobile Networks, 2G, was introduced in the late 1990s. It used digital technology and offered much faster data speeds, typically around 64 kbps. 2G Networks were the first to support data services such as SMS and MMS.

3G (2000s)

The third generation of Mobile Networks, 3G, was introduced in the early 2000s. It used a variety of technologies, including UMTS, CDMA2000, and TD-SCDMA. 3G Networks offered much faster data speeds than 2G, typically around 144 kbps to 2 Mbps. 3G Networks also supported a wider range of data services, such as mobile internet browsing, video streaming, and mobile gaming.

4G (2010s)

The fourth generation of Mobile Networks, 4G, was introduced in the late 2010s. It uses the LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology and offers data speeds of up to 1 Gbps. 4G Networks also support a wider range of data services, such as ultra-high-definition video streaming, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

5G (2020s)

The fifth generation of Mobile Networks, 5G, is the latest and most advanced generation of Mobile Networks. It uses various technologies, including mmWave and sub-6 GHz, and offers data speeds of up to 10 Gbps. 5G Networks also support a wider range of data services, such as real-time, low-latency applications such as self-driving cars and remote surgery.

The evolution of Mobile Networks has had a profound impact on our lives. It has made it possible to stay connected with friends and family no matter where we are and has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for businesses and consumers. As 5G networks continue to roll out, we can expect to see even more exciting innovations in the future.

Mobile Network Evolution

Each new generation of Mobile Network technology has introduced new features and capabilities and has enabled new use cases and applications. 5G is expected to enable many new services and applications, such as augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and remote surgery.

Where 5G and 4G are Most Widely Available?

There has been a lot of progress in the last few years regarding technology availability. Read more details in our 5G Rollout Status blog. Some countries have made more advanced progress than others.

According to Statista, the top 8 countries are:

  1. South Korea

  2. Saudi Arabia

  3. Kuwait

  4. Hong Kong

  5. USA

  6. Thailand

  7. Tawain

  8. Italy

Statista graphic report

Source: Statista

A recent report by Mobile Magazine identifies the top 10 countries with the most extensive 5G networks regarding subscriber uptake, latency, and speed.

The availability of 5G is constantly changing. Here are some of the factors that contribute to the availability of 5G in a country:

  • The country's regulatory environment

  • The investment made by mobile operators

  • The availability of spectrum

  • The population density

As 5G technology continues to mature, we expect it to become more widely available in more countries worldwide.

5G Speed Versus 4G and 3G

5G speed versus 3G and 4G

5G is generally faster than both 4G and 3G Networks. While the actual speeds can vary depending on network coverage, device capability, and network congestion, 5G is designed to deliver significantly higher data speeds and lower latency compared to its predecessors.

Here's a general comparison of the expected speeds:

3G: 3G Networks typically offer download speeds ranging from a few megabits per second (Mbps) to around 10 Mbps, with latency ranging from tens to hundreds of milliseconds.

4G: 4G Networks substantially improved data speeds, offering download speeds in the range of tens to hundreds of Mbps. Peak speeds could reach up to several hundred Mbps, depending on the network conditions. Latency was significantly reduced compared to 3G, typically ranging from tens to tens of milliseconds.

5G: 5G Networks are designed to provide significantly faster speeds than 4G. Theoretically, 5G can deliver download speeds of up to multiple gigabits per second (Gbps). In practical scenarios, 5G speeds can vary but generally range from a few hundred Mbps to several gigabits per second, depending on network coverage, frequency bands, and network capacity. Latency is also significantly reduced in 5G, typically in the single-digit milliseconds range.

It's important to note that the actual speeds experienced by users may vary depending on various factors, including network deployment, spectrum availability, distance from cell towers, and network congestion. Individual device capabilities and network coverage can also impact the achievable speeds.

5G offers faster data speeds and lower latency than 4G and 3G networks, enabling a wide range of applications requiring high bandwidth and real-time responsiveness.

Statista has also provided data from deployed networks on speed between 5G and 4G networks.

Statista Report 4G vs 5G

Source: Statista

A good example of the speed difference can be seen below:

SmartViser Mobile Network speed


How can SmartViser Help Benchmark 5G and 4G Networks and Performance?

5G testing is critical to developing and deploying 5G Networks and services. SmartViser has been supporting several Mobile Network operators worldwide in their challenge to successfully deploy 5G Networks.

Some of the areas SmartViser's Test Automation solution can support:

  1. Network performance testing: This involves testing the performance of the 5G Network, including throughput, latency, and reliability.

  2. User experience testing: This involves testing the user experience of 5G services, such as streaming video or playing games, to ensure that they meet user expectations and provide a superior quality of experience.

  3. Network coverage testing: This involves testing the coverage of the 5G Network in different locations and environments to ensure that it provides reliable service to users.

With the innovative Viser Analytics Studio, you can use the interactive dashboard to analyse real-time results.


Do You Want To Know More?

Press Contact:

Debbie Bouffler



Susie Siouti SmartViser Chief Commercial Officer

Susie Siouti is the Chief Commercial Officer for SmartViser, helping organisations in the Telecommunications industry offer superior end-user quality of experience and service by introducing innovative test automation products. Susie has 20 years of experience in the Telecoms industry and, in that time, has led teams across the world, mainly in Testing and Compliance. Holding an MBA from Henley Business School brings diverse skills and expertise, including business acumen, strategic thinking, financial management, sales and marketing expertise, leadership, and innovation.

Susie joined SmartViser in 2016 and is part of the internal steering committee responsible for developing and implementing the company's commercial strategy and encouraging a customer-centric culture. The main mission is to help organizations to create value by offering better quality products and services by improving operational efficiency and innovation.

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