It's a cold, drizzly day in Chicago but I'm here for one reason alone and that is to test Verizon's newly launched 5G network.
Standing outside the Verizon store on Michigan Avenue I've got the Moto Z3 with the 5G Moto mod.
That is what gives this phone 5G power.
So far Verizon has launched 5G in two cities, here and in Minneapolis but by the end of 2019 Team by team will be in 30 city of surprises promise starting off small and urban areas then it will later expand.
So we're not gonna get 5G everywhere.
And since this is early days, we honestly don't know what kind of coverage we're gonna get, but we do get to try it out which is really exciting.
And we can expect that overtime, it will only get better.
We've got a plan all day.
So we're going to go all round the city and see what kind of 5G speeds we can get but first, we're gonna go inside this store for some speed test.
So I've already been in the Verizon store for more than an hour and a half, sitting right under the 5G node.
Which means that it's supposed to be a really fast, great connection.
However, right now this phone is in 4G.
It keeps popping in and out of 5G.
And I have to keep going into airplane mode to try to trigger 5G.
So I haven't been able to get a clean comparison test.
I'm gonna keep trying.
All right, we're ready for round two of our testing.
I'm here at the Merchandise Mart, which also happens to be the headquarters for Motorola.
Behind me on that pole outside of the Shamrock Club is another 5G node.
So I'm hoping we get a little bit luckier with speeds It's here.
Again, it was the same situation on speed test.
We got some pretty good speeds sometimes.
But then when we went to download an actual app, PUBG, which is a very large app, it took six minutes.
So now PUBG mobile's almost completely installed on the exact same Moto Z3, I've just taken off the 5G Moto mod.
It doesn't look like we were getting 5G speeds before and this is the same download time.
By this point it's after lunchtime it's getting to be kind of late so we go to two more nodes the first one was right outside the Chicago Art Institute And, again, standing right underneath it service was quite a flickering the rain was coming down, definitely got those five g speeds on the speed test, but when I went to download Netflix episode it completely stalled.
And then I took off the modem on thinking okay well there's no possible way that it's going to actually be faster and 4g but we got to check, and I was completely spelled to, so I don't know what was happening.
[UNKNOWN] The last spot we tried was a couple of blocks away from the famous Chicago theater and again standing right underneath it, go through the whole saga dance, but this time I can't connect to the 5G network at all.
I tried everything, I toggled the airplane mode on and off at least four times.
I rebooted the phone, I took off the [UNKNOWN], I put it back on.
I was kind of at my website and I just sort of gave up that I realized later that my mod was zero percent which means I'm not going to connect to the 5g network at all.
Even if I were standing right underneath that they were absolutely no problems with that node.
So how did it go today, not very well, actually.
It was more like a wild goose chase, we were out shooting for four hours with the phone in the rain, it was cold.
We were trying really hard to get the action, have to be outside, because that's where the news were.
Whenever you have a new kind of technology launching you expect that they're gonna It's gonna be some rough spot along the road and remember this network is one day old, so I wasnt expecting this to be like amazing speeds with absolutely no problems but whatsoever.
But it was basically and incomplete disaster and failure unfortunately.
If you looked at me at the beginning of the day I was full of hope and energetic and now I just feel like this haggard worn out mess after all that I've been through.
So to understand the problems that I had with the mod in our last attempt, we have to understand the mod itself.
It's got its own 2000 Milli amp battery, and it's got four antennas all around it.
Those are somewhat demarcated by these oblong circles.
Those are actually infrared sensors.
And if you're blocking one with your hand by holding the mod, you're not going to get 5G signal through that antenna.
So this is a good thing.
This is supposed to help you reliably get your 5G signal.
When the mod connects to the phone with these 5G pins on the bottom, it's transferring the data to the phone.
However, the mod has its own battery.
It's got its own battery charger, and is not transferring battery.
So if you run out of battery on the mod, you're not going to get that 5G signal.
You might think that it would make a lot of sense for the phone and the mod to share battery resources.
But Motorola didn't want to do that, in case the mod sucked out the battery life of From your phone, well if they both die, then you won't be able to make calls on 4G or use the phone at all, so that part does makes sense.
However the main problem that I had was that I needed a neon sign telling me that I was running low.
There is an indicator in the notifications tray, and apparently Motorola has also included some sort of a ephemeral message on the screen, but then that goes away.
There is no [UNKNOWN] battery indicator for the MOD, like there is for the battery indicator for the phone.
So you really can't tell by glancing at the screen what's the battery life on the mod is.
And if you're getting this pretty hard with a lot of download and a lot of streaming, you're gonna hit those battery reserves faster such would in using the regular phone.
Part of the reason that I didn't see this message is because I was running around trying to get 5G and I think that, if you're a person who has your phone in your pocket, in your purse, you're not necessarily gonna see those messages when they appear.
I think this is the challenge for Motorola.
How are you gonna communicate with people with not battery life on the model as well.
There is gonna be a customer expectation that you're paying more for the service.
You're paying it for the month that since you're paying for it.
You should have 5G access all the time.
I think at the end of the day, all these trials and tribulation we had underscores where 5G is.
This is a nation technology, there are going to be some stabling block along the way and all of these companies, Motorola, Verizon all the other network providers they're playing the long game.
5G is gonna be with us for a decade until the next G, right, possibly even more.
So these are things that they're gonna work out.
I'm not giving them in past.
Today's experience was really frustrating and it was frankly really terrible and based on it, I can't go out and recommend that anybody go buy a 5G phone right away, but I do think that we are gonna see changes down the line.
A year from now, is everybody going to have a 5G phone?
No, absolutely not.
Not all the cities are going to have coverage.
Not all areas of the cities are going to have coverage.
If you live somewhere more in the outskirts, you're probably definitely not going to have that for a while you'll still have 4G and the networks are going to be building out 4G, alongside five teams.
So your four g should be faster and that's something that we saw today.
We didn't always get five g speeds but some of the four g speeds were speedier.
In addition, it was a big deal for Motorola and Verizon to have a five g phone ready for when the network turns on.
But this isn't the design you want to have.
This is exremely boo go.
Nobody wants an add on This is something that the phone makers are working on, Qualcomm's working on it their's a brand new chip that's not in this device or the first wave of devices but around holidays 2019, the phones are going to be thinner an they're gonna work a lot better across multiple carriers.
So, you're not going to want this first wave, the second wave maybe, the third wave even after that.
But you're still looking at At least one to two years out before you get a really satisfying 5G experience.
I think that if you're on the cutting edge, you're an early adopter and you really want those speeds, there are gonna be some immediate advantages as we've seen with some of the Successful speed tests today.
So if you really wanna download something fast, you're going to be able to do that.
Not today, but in the future.
In the future, they're gonna be a lot more 5G phones to choose from and as time goes on, that will be our only choice.
We're not gonna even have a lot of 4G options, same as when we switched over from 3G to 4G in the first place.
But after today I can say honestly, it can only get better from here.