5G upgrades – How to upgrade to 5G?

5G is here, at least in some places and on some networks. And if it’s not where you are yet, it likely will be before too long.

That’s good news, because you’re probably going to want it, as it’s already very, very fast, while looking ahead it should allow us to use our smartphones and other devices in new ways – think 8K holographic video and other tech that sounds like it comes straight out of a sci-fi movie.

How to upgrade to 5G?

In order to upgrade to 5G you need two things:

1. 5G Device

5G Device Logo

2. 5G Plan

5G Plan

Once you’ve got both you are 5G ready and you’ll just need to be in a 5G coverage area.

1. 5G Device

In terms of 5G devices, we’re really talking either a phone or a mobile broadband device at the moment, though in future we’d expect tablets to support 5G too. You can see your current options below.

Phones available

Network availability

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G

EE, Vodafone, Three, O2

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

EE, Vodafone, O2. Coming soon to Three

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G

EE

LG V50 ThinQ

EE

Huawei Mate 20 X 5G

EE, Vodafone, Three

Oppo Reno 5G

EE

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G

Vodafone. Coming soon to Three and O2

Find out more

As you can see, there’s a reasonable selection of 5G phones available already. They’re all high-end, but you can expect 5G to come to cheaper handsets over time.

Mobile broadband available

Network availability

HTC 5G Hub

EE. Coming soon to Three

GigaCube

Vodafone

Three 5G Hub

Three

Find out more

There aren’t as many mobile broadband options, but we’d expect all major networks to offer some form of 5G mobile broadband before long.

Buying options

Once you’ve chosen a device, you’ve got to consider how you want to purchase it, and your choice really comes down to Pay Monthly or SIM Free.

Pay Monthly means paying for your device and plan together over a series of months, though there’s often an upfront cost as well. SIM Free means buying the device outright in full, so there’s a large upfront cost, but then your monthly costs are lower, as you’re only paying for your usage.

2. 5G Plan

Once you’ve chosen your device, you also need to choose a plan, and there are a number of these available. We’ve highlighted the current options below.

Network

Max data

Other benefits

EE

120GB

Swappable benefits (including BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video, Roam Further, and video/music/gaming data use without it coming out of your allowance), upgrade anytime

Vodafone

Unlimited

Free roaming in 77 destinations, VeryMe Rewards

Three

Unlimited

Go Binge, free roaming in 71 destinations, Wuntu rewards and discounts

O2

TBC

TBC

 

Note that at the time of writing, Three and O2 don’t currently offer 5G plans, but Three has said it will be adding 5G to its plans as standard, so we know what to expect there. O2 is more of a mystery – you can buy 5G devices from O2 already, but they’ll be on a 4G plan and you’ll be able to move to a yet-to-be-revealed 5G plan when the company’s 5G network launches.

Buying options

While you might be tempted to stick with your current network, there’s no need to. In fact, there’s arguably never been a better time to consider your network options, as they all offer very different 5G plans, as you can see above, and we’re initially likely to see very different 5G coverage from each network.

Switching network is easy – so don’t rule it out. We’d urge you to check our dedicated EE, Vodafone, Three, O2 and other network pages for full, up to date details on each.

Where is 5G coverage available?

Where you can get 5G coverage will depend on the network you choose. For up to date information your best bet is to check each network’s official coverage page. You’ll find links to these along with a broad coverage overview below.

Network

5G coverage

Coverage checker

EE

Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Manchester.

EE coverage checker

Vodafone

Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bolton, Bristol, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow, Lancaster, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton.

Vodafone coverage checker

O2

None – launching in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Slough in October.

O2 coverage checker

Three

None – launching in London in August.

Three coverage checker

Note that coverage is improving all the time, so if there’s not coverage where you are now, there might be soon. Note also that coverage above was correct at the time of writing, but for the latest information head to each network’s coverage checker.

How can I check if I’m eligible to upgrade?

In most cases you’ll be able to check if you’re eligible to upgrade by logging into your account on your network’s website, or via their official app. You can find links to check below.

Network

Link to check upgrade eligibility

EE

Click here

Vodafone

Click here then head to ‘Upgrade or change bundle’

O2

Click here

Three

Click here

BT

Click here

iD Mobile

Click here

Plusnet

Get in touch here

Sky Mobile

Click here

Tesco Mobile

Click here

Virgin Mobile

Click here

Note: if your network isn’t listed then that should mean it allows upgrades anytime or doesn’t have contracts or upgrades in the first place.

What can I do if I have a long time left on my contract?

Depending on the plan you have you might have the flexibility to upgrade early, but assuming you don’t, you have a couple of real options.

You can either pay off the rest of your current contract in one lump sum, allowing you to upgrade to a new 5G one early, or you can buy a whole new 5G phone outright and stick your current SIM card in it – though this second option only works if your current plan supports 5G and it’s just your phone that doesn’t. So this should be an option on Three, for example, as Three is adding 5G to plans as standard.

You could also simply wait. Right now 5G isn’t widely available and both coverage and phone choice should increase massively in the next couple of years. Prices are likely to drop too, so there is something to be said for not joining the 5G revolution straight away.

FAQ

Will my 3G or 4G phone work with 5G?

No, you’ll need a new phone. If you have a 3G or 4G phone it will still work on 5G plans, but you’ll only get 3G or 4G speeds.

Will I need a new SIM card to access 5G?

Probably. While it may be possible that some networks add 5G to existing SIM cards, O2 for example has talked about customers having to switch to a 5G SIM once 5G has launched, while Vodafone highlights that its new unlimited SIMs are 5G-ready – suggesting that others aren’t.

However, while a new SIM card is likely to be needed, the size isn’t changing. You’ll still be using the same sizes as before, which in most cases means you’ll get a nano SIM (or a multi SIM, that can be sized as needed).

How much will it cost to upgrade?

If you’re not currently tied into a contract it shouldn’t cost anything, though your new 5G plan may well have a higher monthly fee than your old 4G one, and if you need a new phone as part of it that is likely to have an upfront cost.

I’m on pay as you go, will I be able to upgrade?

If you’re on pay as you go, you can upgrade any time, though you might initially need to move to a Pay Monthly or SIM Only plan, as – aside from needing a 5G phone – most networks are currently only advertising 4G speeds for Pay As You Go, though Three is promising 5G.

Prepare your network site for 5G and IoT in a changing world

That’s where CommScope’s Site Solutions for Techies ebook comes in.

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