Telecoms have been slow to hop on the 5G bandwagon — your smartphone normally relies on 4G or LTE for old-fashioned phone calls. But T-Mobile is venturing forward by launching its commercial Voice over 5G service today in limited areas of Portland and Salt Lake City. For now, only customers with Samsung Galaxy S21 5G phones will be able to access the technology. So while this is a truly small sample size, T-Mobile says it plans to keep rolling out the feature to other areas and other brands of 5G phones later this year. Support for the Samsung Galaxy S22 will arrive later this year.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 with 5G has HD Voice+, but as some customers have noted, there’s no ability to use this nifty feature over 5G. For customers who don’t use T-Mobile, you’ll likely face an even longer wait for 5G voice calls. As FierceWireless noted, both AT&T and Verizon haven’t made 5G voice calls a priority yet. “We plan to implement VoNR when we believe we can offer a voice experience that rivals our HD Voice capabilities,” AT&T told Fierce in a statement.
It’s unlikely customers will notice a wild difference in sound quality between 5G voice calls and LTE voice calls. According to T-Mobile, callers may notice “slightly faster call set-up times,” or a shorter amount of time between when they dial a number and the phone starts to ring. But as more carriers build standalone 5G networks, we’re likely to see major advances in voice technology to follow, such as the use of 5G in immersive audio and conference calls.
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