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Why is it so hard to get 5G on your smartphone?

New Delhi : When 4G was introduced in India, no one thought much of it. People continued to use their phones while the networks were seamlessly connected to the long-term advanced 4G networks (LTE) and gradually abandoned the voice-only 3G networks. Now, despite the 5G marketing campaign by Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, even tech geeks are wondering how to get 5G on their 5G-enabled phones. This explanation should help you cut through the noise.

Do 5G phones need a software update?

You often won’t be able to see a 5G signal on your phone until the phone brand sends you a software update, even if you purchased a “5G-ready” phone. The reason is that smartphones are programmed to constantly search for the best possible network signal. This is also why you will notice your phone battery draining faster if you are constantly switching through patchy network areas. The “5G-ready” phones have the hardware to connect to 5G but when shipped to India, brands used a so-called “soft lock” to prevent these phones from connecting to 5G networks and draining their batteries. Many phone makers have offered deadlines by which you’ll receive a software update that enables 5G connections on your phone. Apple and Samsung have promised updates that will enable 5G on Indian devices by December. Check the Software Update section on your phone regularly for this.

Have you checked your network settings?

Your next task will be to make sure that you have selected the correct mobile data network on your phone. Usually every smartphone chooses the highest network quality available on their firmware to give you the fastest connection speed. To be doubly sure, go to your phone’s network settings and select Mobile Data. If your phone has the firmware required to access 5G networks, there will be “5G/LTE” or a similar label under Mobile data settings. Make sure to check this out. Auto Connect usually gives you coverage for all networks (3G/4G/5G).

Do you need a new chip?

The upgrade from 3G to 4G networks, which took place about seven years ago, required telecom service providers to completely upgrade the underlying infrastructure of aging networks. The same was required of the user also in the form of a new SIM card that identifies you on the 4G network. However, 5G is built on the existing 4G core framework. As a result, you do not need a new SIM card to access 5G services. Your existing SIM will continue to offer 5G connectivity, at least for all non-standalone (NSA) 5G networks. The latter is the type of 5G network where the user’s communication node — not the core of the network — is upgraded. While standalone (SA) 5G networks in theory would require new SIM cards, Jio, which is building the SA 5G network in the country, says existing SIMs will do.

Has 5G rolled out in your area?

Your final step will be to wait for 5G networks to be available in your area. Both Jio and Airtel have made announcements regularly regarding the markets in which their 5G services are being launched. You will likely get an alert with the same, when 5G becomes available in your network circle.

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