This year Samsung’s flagship S-Series launch has been all about the 5G. While a few LTE models will still be available, the majority of the S20, S0+ and S20 Ultra models come with a 5G modem.
But being 5G ready isn’t the same thing as actually connecting to a 5G network, which is something that Woolworths Mobile hasn’t quite grasped in its S20 plan advertising.
This article has been updated to reflect Woolworths Mobile starting to fix this marketing material. You can read the update below.
Like every other major telco in Australia, Woolworths Mobile is selling 5G variants for S20 handsets. This gets a little complicated when you take into account that only two network operators currently have 5G – Telstra and Optus. And even then its still very much in the roll out stages.
While Vodafone has announced its upcoming 5G network, there isn’t a hard launch date yet. However, the telco told Gizmodo over email last year that it would announce its 5G plans in early 2020.
Despite not having 5G yet, Vodafone is selling 5G Samsung S20 devices. But its plan pages clearly state that its 5G network is not ready yet.
“5G will progressively roll out to selected areas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and Perth from mid-2020.”
Comparatively, Woolworths Mobile has not made it clear on all of its landing pages that its Samsung S20 device plans will not be able to get 5G. In fact, it says the complete opposite.
Under an advertisement for the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G the website states, “Stream, download, and post with your phone at seriously fast speeds with 5G.”
This is a problem because Woolworths Mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) and no MVNOs in Australia currently have 5G network access. Despite being powered by the Telstra network, anyone on a Woolworths Mobile plan with a 5G-enabled phone will not be able to access a 5G network.
This is particularly problematic as Woolworths Mobile has slashed $250 off all of its Samsung S20 plans, meaning its offeringS are the cheapest for the new handsets in Australia. This means it has the potential to mislead a large number of potential customers.
It’s worth noting that Woolworths Mobile discloses its lack of 5G access under a dedicated 5G tab on its website.
And since we began investigating this issue on Wednesday morning a footnote has been added to the individual 5G plans that states “5G services only supported in 5G network enabled locations and on eligible networks. 5G will be available on Woolworths Mobile in the future. This phone is fully compatible with our 4G network and you’ll continue to get the same great speeds as you do today.”
However, this footnote is still attached to the statement “Stream, download, and post with your phone at seriously fast speeds with 5G.”
“Woolworths Mobile does not offer 5G network as it is still in development, with 4G remaining our best performing mobile network and will be around for years to come. There are no specific timings yet for 5G as the rollout is only in its early stages,” a Woolworths Mobile representative said in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
“5G capable handsets, including the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, are available to purchase for customers who would like to be 5G ready for the future.”
Update: After being contacted by Gizmodo Australia, Woolworths Mobile fixed the issue in real time, with the aforementioned landing page now also receiving a footnote indicator, though the disclosure can only be read if you then click into the plan:
It’s difficult to see, but there is a small ‘1’ footnote above the 5G statement, which is missing from the screenshot further up in the article. It’s good to see that Woolworths Mobile has taken this incident seriously, though it probably would have been better to not have made false speed claims in the first place.