Do I Need a New SIM Card for 5G? Do you need to upgrade SIM card for 5G? Will you get 5G if you use your old 4G SIM card? Will your 4G SIM card work in a 5G phone? Can you use your existing SIM card in a 5G phone?
The answer to all of the above questions is that you do not need a new SIM card for 5G; 4G SIM cards are forward compatible with 5G networks. An automatic software update might be pushed out by the carrier, but a 4G SIM card is good to go should your wireless carrier/network launch 5G services.
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Non-Standalone 5G Networks vs Standalone 5G Networks
Why do 4G SIMs work on 5G networks? The simple answer is that most 5G networks are non-standalone (NSA). This means they use existing LTE technology to deploy 5G service. As such, your existing 4G SIM cards will work on non-standalone 5G networks. This is the general rule. But there are exceptions.
The exception happens where a carrier or operator deploys a standalone (SA) 5G network. Such networks are built on newer 5G technology from scratch, and so will require that you replace your existing SIM card with a compatible 5G SIM. If an operator is running a standalone 5G network, your current 4G SIM card will not work on that network; you will need a new 5G SIM card.
Examples of where subscribers do not need a new SIM card for 5G, and where they do
For example, your mobile network provider might require you to replace or upgrade your SIM card with a 5G-compliant one, for various reasons. In the USA, AT&T subscribers are able to use their existing SIM cards. However, T-Mobile, having launched the first Standalone 5G service in America, is requiring its subscribers to get a new SIM card for 5G. On Verizon, your existing 4G LTE SIM card will work on their 5G Nationwide service (which is NSA), but not on their 5G UWB network (which is SA). For the Verizon 5G UWB, you will need a new SIM card.
In the UK, if you are on EE, Three, or Vodafone, your existing SIM card will work on their new 5G networks, as they are non-standalone (NSA) networks. You do not need to replace your SIM. However, subscribers of O2 are required to replace their existing SIMs with new 5G SIM cards to be able to connect to its standalone (SA) 5G network.
Most 5G networks are non-standalone and so do not require you to get a new SIM card. However, if what your carrier/network operator has deployed is a standalone network, you will need a new SIM card for 5G.
Here is a good summary of the subject. On non-standalone (NSA) networks, you do not need a new SIM card for 5G. Most 5G networks are NSA. On standalone (SA) networks, you will need a new SIM card for 5G. Lastly, when we say your existing SIM card will work on 5G NSA networks, we mean your 4G LTE SIM card. Older 3G SIM cards are not compatible with 5G networks.
Do you need a new smartphone to use 5G?
If your current smartphone supports only 3G and/or 4G networks, it will not work on a 5G network; you will need to buy a 5G phone. However, if you already have a 5G phone, and it is compatible with the frequency band that your network carrier is using, it will work just fine. Yes, it is possible to have a 5G phone and it won’t work on a 5G carrier. Why? There are different 5G bands: your phone and carrier must support the same band for them to be able to shake hands and work well.
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Way back from the days of EPOC, Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems, founder of MobilityArena, Mister Mobility, has owned a few hundred smartphones and tablets, and counting.