The peculiar problem of using a Smile 4G SIM in a type specific LTE smartphone

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Recently, I was asked to compile and publish a list of phones that are compatible with smile 4G network. As you may already know, this 4G LTE business is already complicated as it is. There are dozens of frequencies and details to make the average user’s head explode. The summary of it is that smartphone compatibility is a big issue. But when you think you have it all figured out, some other information pops up.

4G smartphones

In the past, we have had the case of a smartphone that supported Smile’s band 20 (800 MHz), but when we put a Smile SIM in it, it failed to register to the network. That was the Lenovo A6000. Now we have another smartphone in the house that supports Smile’s 4G band but won’t register either: the Lumia 950.

So, we reached out to Microsoft about this and they sent in this explanation:

The 4G network has to have voice as well. So the radio checks for the voice first and then if seen, latches unto the 4G network.

As SMILE has no voice, it will not latch.

So, it is not enough that your 4G SIM card and a smartphone support the same LTE band. From Microsoft’s response, it appears that some smartphones are designed to look for voice first, and since Smile has no voice…bummer.

As you know, Smile 4G is not a mobile network operator. It is a broadband service provider. The recently launched SmileVoice is not a traditional network voice service, so it doesn’t count. This will present a unique situation for many Smile subscribers who will want to use their SIMs in one LTE smartphone or the other. What to do? If possible, take your smartphone to a Smile centre for a compatibility test.

In the meantime, we are compiling as much info as possible towards helping you pick smartphones that are compatible with Smile’s 4G network. The very first that we confirmed in-house here at Mobility Arena is the TECNO Phantom 5. Expect a list from us soon.