How to Enable 5G on Your Phone

5G technology

By now, there’s a great chance you’ve heard about 5G. The fifth generation technology has been talked about for years, and it finally became a reality in Australia last year.

Both Optus and Telstra have had 5G sites turned on for over a year now. Earlier this year, TPG Telecom (Vodafone) joined in with their first 5G site in Parramatta. So with all three of Australia’s major telcos offering 5G, you might have even used the technology yourself.

But for those who haven’t, here are the key attractions of 5G technology:

  • Up to 100 times faster download speeds than 4G
  • Greater bandwidth which helps increase speeds even more, and gets rid of hiccups when there are multiple connections accessing the network
  • Low to zero latency to send data packets from one end to the other seamlessly, for instantaneous response time.

5G download speeds

5G download speeds could be up to 100 times faster than 4G. img src

But the 5G rollout takes time – it is a very new technology. As a result, you can only access 5G networks in certain areas, and your coverage also varies based on the telco you choose.

Regardless of which telco you go with, you’ll need a 5G phone to access any 5G network. You can bypass this by opting for a 5G fixed wireless broadband service or a 5G mobile broadband service. But the ideal way to access 5G on the go is with a 5G phone.

In this post, we’ll run through some of the available 5G phones, show you how to check their 5G compatibility, and take a quick look at the 5G plans in Australia.

5G phones

There aren’t many 5G phones out there yet, but there are enough to give you some decent choices. All three major telcos now have 5G phones available so you can test out their 5G networks.

The chart below shows some 5G phones that you can get directly from the telco on a monthly installment plan.

Samsung Galaxy S10 5GYesYesYes
Samsung Galaxy S20 5G, + 5G, Ultra 5GYesYesYes
Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5GYesYesYes
Samsung Galaxy A90 5GYesNoNo
Samsung Galaxy A71 5GNoYesYes
OPPO Find X2 Pro 5GYesYesNo
OPPO Find X2 Neo 5GYesNoNo
OPPO Find X2 Lite 5GYesYesYes

There are other 5G phones on the market, but you’ll likely have to buy them from their manufacturers, third party retail stores, or online. If you do so, make sure they the phone is unlocked so you can use it on any of the 5G networks.

How to enable 5G on your phone

Because 5G is only available in select areas, there’s a chance you might not be able to use 5G where you are. Under such circumstances, you might question whether your phone is, indeed, 5G capable.

  • There should be a 5G logo on the body of the phone – probably at the back.
  • If there’s no 5G logo, check the model number and search it online.
  • If 5G is available in your area, the 5G signal symbol should appear at the top of your screen.
  • Run a speed test with your mobile data – if it is ridiculously faster than normal, you probably have 5G.

Now that you’ve determined your phone is 5G capable, you’ll need to sign up to a 5G plan to access the network. If you have a plan and you’re in an area with 5G coverage from your telco, follow these steps to enable 5G on your phone if it isn’t already on:

  • First, check the top of your screen for the 5G indicator. If it isn’t on, and there is 5G coverage in the area, then proceed with the next steps to turn on 5G.
  • Go to Settings > Network Mode > tap 5G.
  • If you still don’t see the 5G indicator at the top of your screen, restart your phone.
  • If there still isn’t any 5G indicator, contact your telco.

5G plans in Australia

In addition to the three major telcos, Spintel is now the first MVNO with a 5G offer. Here’s a look at the 5G plans in Australia.

Telstra 5G plans:

  • 5G SIM plans
    Telstra’s 5G network is currently only available to customers on their postpaid month-to-month Medium (80GB), Large (120GB), and Extra Large (180GB) plans, and there are no extra charges involved. Those on other plans will have to upgrade to access 5G.
  • 5G mobile broadband plans
    Telstra also offer four mobile broadband plans ranging from $15 to $75 with 5GB to 100GB of data, and you’ll get access to their 5G network if your area has coverage.

Optus 5G plans:

  • 5G phone plans
    Optus haven’t indicated any additional cost for 5G coverage on smartphones so, for now, you can access their mobile 5G network on their current mobile SIM plans at no additional cost.
  • 5G fixed wireless broadband plan
    Optus home wireless broadband costs $70 per month, either month-to-month or on a 24-month contract. You get a free Nokia 5G modem, guaranteed minimum download speeds of 50Mbps, and unlimited 5G data with no caps. There are no start-up fees for the contract plan, but the month-to-month plan comes with a $200 start-up fee.

Vodafone 5G plans:

  • 5G phone/broadband plan
    TPG Telecom’s (Vodafone) 5G network is still very limited. So far, the telco has only turned on 5G in Parramatta. You can access 5G with their regular postpaid plans at no extra costs if you’re in that area. They have indicated that they might charge extra for 5G in the future.

Spintel 5G plan:

  • 5G fixed wireless broadband plan
    Spintel is now the first MVNO to offer 5G. The telco resells Optus’ 5G home broadband network. You get unlimited data at $90, with guaranteed minimum download speed of 50Mbps.

In sum

To access 5G, you need a 5G compatible phone. If you don’t have one, then a 5G mobile broadband device should do the trick. However, because 5G is still rolling out, you’ll need to find an are where your telco has 5G coverage before you can use the network.

There are many tips to find out if your device is 5G capable. If it is, and you can’t connect to your provider’s 5G network where there is coverage, check if you’re on an eligible 5G plan, and follow the tips we provided to troubleshoot your 5G connection.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.