The time had come to purchase a new phone. The only decision was to buy an iPhone 11 or iPhone 12 and which model. Here’s the tale of the purchase and setup.
I finally broke down and bought an iPhone 12. Now hear me out. The iPhone 12’s 5G capability didn’t factor into that decision. Indeed, if you’ve seen some reviews of the iPhone 12, it’s all about the camera, not the 5G capability. My previous phone — an iPhone SE first edition — still works, though its 32 GB of storage is no longer sufficient. I also wanted a better camera.
With the iPhone 11 series eliminated, the iPhone 12 decision came down to model. I ruled out the iPhone 12 Mini because of complaints over battery life. The winner: iPhone 12, 128 GB.
Next question: Where to buy it?
Given that prices appear to be the same everywhere, I chose to buy from the carrier because I can take two years to pay with no interest charges. After confirming that my desired color was in stock, I was ready to place the order. That’s when the sales rep said I’d need to buy a new SIM for $30. I refused because the iPhone SE and iPhone 12 both use nano-SIM cards, reasoning that they’re interchangeable. Would 5G work with my SIM? With only one way to find out, ordered the phone figuring that if I needed to go to the carrier’s store, there’s one a short walk from home. At least I was able to get free overnight shipping.
When the new phone arrived the next day, I backed up the iPhone SE through iTunes on two computers. As an extra precaution, I backed up the backup files from one computer to an external drive — you can never have too many backups. I didn’t need them because Apple now has a feature that lets you transfer all files and setups from an old phone to a new one over Bluetooth. The catch is that the destination phone must be new or wiped clean.
To my surprise, the iPhone 12 came with a new SIM. Calling the carrier’s tech support, I learned that the existing SIM should work but the phone might not get 5G with my SIM. If I wanted to move the phone number from the old SIM card to the new one, they could take place remotely — no need to walk to the store.
A few days, later, I was ready to transfer the SIM to the iPhone 12. First, I called the carrier’s tech support again to get the details of how the number would move to the new phone in the event I needed the new SIM. This time a different tech support rep told me that if 5G appeared on the screen with the old SIM, there was no need to use the new SIM. The original sales rep who told me I’d needed to buy a new SIM was either misinformed or outright lied.
The new phone now runs with the iPhone SE’s SIM. The SIM that came with the iPhone 12 is in the box. While on the phone with the second tech support rep, I asked if there was a way to know which part of 5G — low band, midband, or mmWave — the iPhone 12 was using at home. He didn’t even know that 5G uses those three bands. When I explained that, he said there was no way to tell which part of 5G the phone was using at any given time, except there is. According to Apple The iPhone 12 can tell if it’s connected to 5G, 5G+ (higher frequency, which I assume is mid-band), and 5GUW, which I assume means mmWave.
Because I never download movies, I see no reason to use 5G. It’s turned off to lengthen battery life. I might try it the next time I go to a stadium and compare connections from 5G and LTE. But, it’s nice to know 5G is there if I need it, plus having the latest model maximizes the time before iOS will no longer upgrade.
I’m getting used to having a larger phone, though I miss the and headphone jack. Use a Bluetooth headset? No way. It’s just another battery to run down.
Having attended several conferences centered on 5G Advanced and 6G, I’ve heard how 5G is for business use and 6G will be for consumers. There just might be some truth to that, despite the endless hype from the carriers.