To access 5G’s lightning-fast speeds, you’ll need a 5G-compatible smartphone and, in some cases, a compatible SIM card. But what if you have a 5G-ready phone with an old contract? Do you need a new SIM card to use 5G?
Some mobile operators say their old SIM cards won’t support their 5G network. This means you’ll need to get a fresh SIM card to put into your new 5G-compatible phone. However, other mobile providers’ SIM cards are all 5G-ready, so you won’t need to swap SIMs if 5G comes to your area and you want to hop on.
Here’s how the UK’s major mobile providers are handling 5G SIMs:
- EE: EE says you won’t need a 5G SIM to use its next-generation network. Your existing SIM will work, unless it doesn’t fit into your new 5G-capable device.
- O2: You’ll need a 5G-activated SIM to gain access to 5G with O2. All 5G-capable smartphones sold through O2 now come with 5G SIMs as standard. But if you had a SIM from a previous 4G smartphone, or if you purchased a 5G phone from O2 prior to 17 October 2019, you’ll need a new 5G SIM. O2 says its 5G SIMs are the same shape and size as other SIMs, so they will fit in your device with no issues.
- Three: All of its SIMs are “5G-ready” as standard, so you won’t need a new one.
- Vodafone: All of its SIMs are 5G-capable.
Note that even if you have a 5G-ready SIM, you won’t be able to use the network unless it’s live in your area, your smartphone accepts it, and, with some providers, you signed up to a specific 5G plan.