‘5G is here’ is a favorite catchphrase for telecom operators and smartphone brands. Well, they have done their part as the rollout is going to take place in most parts of the country and the leading phone companies have all been launching 5G-ready phones in India for a while now. The chances are that you may have a 5G phone and in time, your network provider will also start providing 5G plans. But then, an important question that may come to your mind would be whether you need a new 5G SIM or if the current 4G SIM would suffice. The short answer is — yes your 4G SIM is enough to get 5G service, once the latter is available.
However, there’s more to it. Going forward when standalone 5G (SA) is here in India, then, you will require a 5G SIM for a better experience. We will get to what this “better experience” means, but first, we must understand what this Standalone 5G is and how is it different from Non-Standalone 5G which will be what India gets in the initial phase.
So, let’s clear up any confusion around the new 5G SIM once and for all.
Are existing 4G SIM cards from Jio, Airtel, and Vi compatible with 5G phones?
Yes, 4G SIMs are forward compatible with 5G which means they will work with 5G phones and connect to the 5G network.
Speaking of which, there are primarily two types of 5G networks namely NSA (Non-Standalone Access) and SA (Standalone Access). Having support for both of them is called Dual Mode 5G.
Many phones shipping with Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 Modem or later come with support for both these network types, ie; they are dual-mode 5G compatible phones.
Now coming to what these two network types mean —
SA vs NSA 5G: What’s the difference and which of these require a 5G SIM?
- Non-Standalone Access 5G network makes some changes to the existing 4G network infrastructure. The result is 5G-level better speeds and bandwidth but the latency improvement will be modest, at best.
- Standalone Access 5G, on the other hand, is a 5G infrastructure built from the scratch. The procedure is costlier but you get far better latency and other 5G prowess that are the promising 5G benefits that both enterprises and consumers would appreciate.
NSA 5G works with a 4G SIM but to get the best SA 5G service, you must have a 5G SIM.
In India, at least in the early years of 5G expansion, we will have NSA 5G infrastructure, and hence a 4G SIM from Jio, Airtel, and Vi will get you 5G service.
But, once we have Standalone 5G in India, you would be asked by the telecom brands to get a new 5G SIM. So do that then.
For now, you need not change your 4G SIM to a 5G SIM and you can enjoy 5G without a 5G SIM.
We hope that clears the confusion.