Does the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon have 5G? What is it for?
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a fantastic business laptop in many ways. We had a lot of praise for it in our review of the latest generation, and it’s not unjustified. It’s not only one of Lenovo’s best laptops, it’s one of the best laptops out there, period. It offers great performance and a comfortable keyboard, which is already a killer combination. But these days, staying connected on the go is more important than ever, so how does it fare in that area? Does the ThinkPad X1 Carbon have cellular connectivity, specifically 5G? The answer is yes — as long as you’re willing to pay for it.
What is 5G and do I need it?
5G is the latest major version of cellular communication technology, which is most prominent on phones. Cellular networks are, of course, essential for phones to work, but over the years, we’ve seen a few laptops implement it as well. The big benefit is that with a cellular network, you can be connected to the internet wherever you are. You don’t always need Wi-Fi to access your work files in the cloud or to check your email.
There are two main types of 5G networks: sub-6GHz and mmWave. The first is closer to the networks we already know today. It offers broader coverage, but the speed improvements aren’t as noticeable. mmWave can get crazy high speeds, but the signal is so easily blocked you basically need to be in the line of sight of the antenna with nothing in between. 5G is still in its early days. What you’ll find now is spotty coverage and a connection that uses up a lot of battery.
That’s not to say you should dismiss 5G, though. After all, it’s the future of cellular networks, but it’s just not quite ready yet. Networks are still being built and expanded, coverage is going to improve, and so will the speeds. Energy efficiency will also eventually be improved, so you won’t notice as much of a battery drain. Buying a 5G device today is more a matter of being ready for the future than it’s something you need for the present.
Does the ThinkPad X1 Carbon support 5G?
As we’ve already mentioned, yes, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 — the latest version — offers 5G options. Thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem, you can get theoretical speeds of up to 7Gbps. But that’s not all it offers either. If you want cellular connectivity without having to spring for 5G, there’s also an LTE configuration available. That means you won’t be able to get the fastest speeds out there, but LTE is still fast enough for most day-to-day tasks. Of course, that depends on where you are, but that statement is even more true for 5G right now.
Having both of those options is important because the 5G add-on is going to cost you $462 more than only having Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, the LTE version only adds $164 to the price. That’s another problem with 5G right now — it’s expensive, especially for what you get in return. But as we mentioned, buying a 5G device isn’t for now. It’s for when you’re still using this laptop three or four years from now and 5G is almost everywhere.
At the end of the day, whether or not the 5G upgrade is worth it is up to you. If you’re planning to upgrade your PC again in a few years, then you don’t need to spend extra for 5G right now. You can wait for the technology to get better and more affordable, and buy a new PC when you’re ready. But if you tend to hold on to your PCs for a long time, then 5G is definitely something you should consider.
Thankfully, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 has you covered either way. Whether you’re willing to spring for 5G or you want to stick with LTE for now, you can get what you want with Lenovo’s latest business laptop.
If you’re still considering other options with cellular connectivity, there are a few to choose from. We’ve rounded up both the best 5G laptops and the best LTE laptops so you can choose what suits your fancy.