I needed a new phone and chose the OnePlus McLaren because it supported T-Mobile’s new 5G network. I didn’t expect a lot because the term 5G doesn’t really guarantee anything, but I wanted to try it.

I got my new phone a few days after T-Mobile flipped the switch on 5G and it was active in my area (southwestern Riverside County, in California). I fired up the speed test app and got 47.8 Mbps down and 14.8 Mbps up inside my house (not on WiFi). Not a great speed since 4G often tops this, but my house is somewhat far from T-Mobile towers. I used my Google Pixel 2XL to do a speed test and got 12.6 Mbps down and 19.0 Mbps up.

The following day I was in my car near Yorba Linda and got 93.5 Mbps down and 44.1 Mbps up. That was more impressive, but not spectacular. I often get messages from friends getting over 100 Mbps on T-Mobile with 4G phones. I still wasn’t overly impressed, though my Pixel 2XL never got that download speed.

I was at lunch with a friend a couple days later and he was using his Samsung Galaxy S9+ that was on the T-Mobile network. This phone does not support 5G and the area we were in had a very weak T-Mobile signal. My OnePlus showed only a couple bars, but web pages were loading quickly. My friend said web pages were loading very slowly on his phone. I was starting to really appreciate the 5G network.

I have not yet had the opportunity to use my phone in areas where I experienced little no T-Mobile signal (parts of Ortega Highway and Oak Glen, CA). I know T-Mobile may have added service to these areas, but I will test if I have the chance.

I keep seeing Verizon 5G commercials with crazy fast speeds, though there are likely few areas actually testing their 5G and how many phones are available that support it? Other types of “5G” have serious issues with signal interference. So much so a tree may be enough to block the signal. I’m not interested in 5G if it requires unrestricted line of sight. So far, I’m impressed with T-Mobile’s 5G deployment. The speeds are good and the range is even better – indoors and outside.

You may have noticed I made reference to T-Mobile’s signal not being great two of the three times I mentioned it. This does not mean T-Mobile has bad coverage – it only means I was using my phone in areas somewhat far from towers. I also have a Verizon work phone and I often get slower speeds than T-Mobile. I have tested T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T in side-by-side tests and T-Mobile was the best in my use areas (in my opinion). I started testing Sprint at the request of a local store owner, but I gave up within a few days because the signal was so bad in my test areas.