How to get a free phone upgrade

YOUR smartphone is about to get significantly faster internet speeds, even if you don't spend another dollar on it.

Australians could become the first people in the world to access high-speed, 5G downloads on smartphones as early as next month, but Telstra's boss has revealed to News Corp Australia that even those who don't use the technology will immediately benefit from it.

The free speed boost could help soften the blow delivered by "more expensive" smartphones that will be filling stores by June and are expected to break price records, but analysts warned the biggest speed boosts would come to those who parted with extra cash.

Telstra chief executive Andy Penn made the comments at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, where some of the world's largest manufacturers and carriers gathered to discuss the milestone year for smartphone technology.

Mr Penn said announcements at the event proved Australia was on track to lead the world in the new mobile networks, which promised downloads speeds of up to 20 times faster than current 4G connections, shorter delays, and greater capacity.

"We'll be among the first in the world to launch 5G," he said.

"If we're not exactly the first, we'll be talking within days or weeks, not months."

Australians will have to upgrade to 5G capable smartphones to connect to the new networks, however, and Mr Penn warned they were likely to be "more expensive" than the current generation.

Upcoming 5G handsets will include LG's V50 ThinQ and Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G, which is tipped to break the current $2399 smartphone price record.

Oppo and Huawei have also promised to release 5G smartphones in Australia by June.

But Mr Penn said even Aussies who didn't buy a new smartphone this year could benefit from the technology upgrade.

Telstra had upgraded parts of its 4G network while rolling out 5G infrastructure, he said, and taking users off the older network would speed up downloads for those who remained.

"A lot of the early adopters tend to be big data users so that starts to take data off the 4G network and you'll get a lift in performance," Mr Penn said.

"You'll get what I call a double halo effect in the early days and that will be good for 4G customers."

But Telsyte managing director Foad Fadagahi warned the biggest gains would be won by those willing to spend big on new smartphones, and he said many would overlook the higher prices to get 5G speeds.

"We anticipate a very strong demand for 5G smartphones because it's a superior experience," he said.

"Consumers will pay more because they will be future-proofing their purchase for at least two to three years. It will become harder to make the decision to purchase a 4G handset over the next 12 to 18 months."

Telsyte's latest research predicts Australians will adopt 5G smartphones faster than the previous upgrade, with more than 20 million services connected in its first four years.

Telstra currently has 200 5G base stations deployed in capital and regional cities across Australia, and rival Optus promised to deliver 5G to 60 suburbs by March.