Are 5G Phones Backwards Compatible?

Are 5G Phones Backwards Compatible

Millions of people don’t have access to 5G. And if you have a 5G phone and live in an area with no coverage, you know how inconvenient it can be. Can you still surf the net using a 5G phone if there’s no 5G in the area?

5G networks are most definitely backward compatible and you can use 4g and 3G networks on your 5G phone. However, 4G and older phones cannot use 5G technology. 

5G is expected to become dominant in the coming years, but many phone companies still need to set up the infrastructure to support it. This article will discuss how 5G phones become backward compatible with older networks and explain the advantages and disadvantages of switching to 5G. It will also discuss whether we can still step up and develop and eventually transition to a 6G environment. 

Can You Use 4G on a 5G Phone?

Can You Use 4G on a 5G Phone
An excited happy woman discovering that you can use 4G on a 5G Phone.

Luckily, you can use 4G on almost all 5G phones. If a 5G phone detects that 5G is unavailable, it will automatically switch to 4G, 3G, or even 2G, whichever is the best network available. 

Phone companies understand that 4G and 3G are the most dominant network firms. Without the infrastructure needed for the normalization of 5G, phone companies will always make 5G phones backward compatible. 

If the world switches to 7G or 8G in the near future, it is possible for 3G and 4G to be dropped, much like how 2G is barely accessible nowadays. 

You Cannot Use a 5G Network on a 4G Phone

You Cannot Use a 5G Network on a 4G Phone
Funny young woman crying because you cannot use 5G on a 4G phone.

You will most likely be able to use 4G on a 5G phone, but can you do the opposite? Sadly, no. 4G phones have a different SIM configuration and will not have the technology to support 5G bands. The same goes for older phones configured to support older network types.

You will have to upgrade to a 5G phone to experience its advantages.

Will 3G Services Be Shut Down Soon?

Will 3G Services Be Shut Down Soon?

As the 5G is creeping in and becoming more dominant, especially in urban areas, 3G services are expected to be obsolete soon.

Network providers can no longer sustain the operations of 3G towers in an environment where everyone is transitioning to more robust networks.

AT&T, for example, has already phased out its 3G network in February 2022, and Verizon followed suit in December 2022

In Europe, on the other hand, 2G and 3G are expected to be completely shut down by around 2025. On the other hand, Japan will say goodbye to 3G around March 2026

The world continues to turn its back on 3G technology, and more and more phone users are exploring the switch to 5G.

The Advantages of Using 5G

The Advantages of Using 5G
Graph showing the per-second speed differences between 3G, 4G, and 5G.

Tech firms aggressively sell the 5G’s power as one of their main features. They claim that 5G is 10 times faster on average than 4G. This means that a movie you can normally download in 2 hours under the 4G can be downloaded in about 12 minutes under the 5G. 

Please see some of our other articles on 5G phones and technology like “How to Know if My Phone is 5G Ready?” and “Remote Area 5G in the USA.”

5G Is Simply More Powerful

5G Is Simply More Powerful
Table 1.1 Average download speed between 4G & 5G Reference: Statista Average-5g and 4g download speed comparison

If you are a heavy user of data, if you like streaming or playing online games, a faster network is what you need.

Additionally, if you are using smart appliances, or driverless vehicles you want stable communication among your devices. This can only be achieved with a stable and consistently fast Internet connection. So do expect a decrease in lags if you switch to 5G. 

The zero latency of the 5G also allows for instant data transfer through the network. If you send a message, it will be delivered almost instantly to the receiver. You won’t have to directly connect your device to the router via cables because the Internet is incredibly fast. 

5G networks also open up possibilities for wireless virtual reality

The Disadvantages of Using 5G

The Disadvantages of Using 5G
Putting a magnifying glass on the disadvantages of cellular towers and electromagnetic pollution exposure in crowded urban environments over long periods of time.

Despite the many advantages, there are also some drawbacks to switching to a 5G network. Since the technology is so fast and powerful, it cannot use long radio waves to deliver information. This will hold back its efficiency and make it prone to interference. 

5G Waves Have Shorter Wavelengths and Coverage

5G Waves Have Shorter Wavelengths and Coverage
Table 2.1 5G Nationwide Coverage Comparison Reference:

5G uses millimeter waves. Since the waves are so short, the range of the signal also becomes small. If 5G is only starting to get established in your area, chances are you won’t receive a consistent signal all the time. 

Phone companies will have to install transmitters almost everywhere, for the estimated range of the 5G is only about 1,000 feet (305 meters). For comparison, the 4G’s range is around 10 miles (16 kilometers).

Your phone will keep looking for the nearest 5G transmitter to receive its signal, which can exhaust your battery. So if you want to switch to this network, prepare to carry a power bank with you. 

5G Waves May Pose Health Risks

Another issue would be the health risks that strong 5g radio frequencies (RF) carry without long-term scientific analyses. Since 5G is so new to the public, it has not been tested to see if it is safe after years of exposure in densely populated cities.

While there are no documented issues with 5G, there is still insufficient research on how exposure to 5G radiation can affect humans.

5G Problems for Airplanes

5G antennas can interfere with aircraft altitude readings and radar altimeters, which can affect and hinder the safety of aircraft flights. Major carriers in the United States have been required to create 5G towers and antenna two-mile buffer zones around many large airports.

Altimeters measure the distance between the antenna on the airplane and the ground directly below it. We don’t want 5g messing with how high the pilot thinks his airplane is now, do we?

How To Switch To 5G

How To Switch To 5G
Directions on how to switch to 5G on an iPhone or Android phone.

You’ll need a phone model and SIM capable of receiving a 5G connection. If you want to experience what it’s like to use the 5G network, follow these steps:

Here’s how you switch to a 5G network on iPhone:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to Mobile Data.
  3. Activate your mobile data by toggling the grey switch to green. 
  4. If the upper right of your screen reads anything other than 5G, go to Mobile Data Options.
  5. Go to Voice & Data.
  6. You will be given three options: 4G, 5G On, and 5G Auto. 5G On automatically receives 5G whenever it is available. 5G Auto, on the other hand, considers your battery life before switching to 5G. 

Here’s how you switch to a 5G network on Android:

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to Connections
  3. Click on Mobile Networks.
  4. Click on Network Mode.
  5. Select 5G/4G/3G/2G

Is 6G Still Possible?

The 5G is an extremely impressive form of technology. It surely satisfies the world’s current need for information transfer and convenience. 

In the near future, it is possible for newer forms of technology to be developed, which would also require faster transmission speeds than what the 5G offers. Firms foresee the demand for 6G and are working on making it accessible for everyone. 

As I’ve mentioned, if the world wants to switch to a 5G environment, it will have to establish transmitters everywhere. You would expect the 6G to require even shorter wavelengths and, concurrently, have even smaller ranges

If tech firms can develop ways to improve ranges for newer networks, then the 6G is most definitely possible. It is also possible for them to establish compact and non-intrusive transmitters everywhere.

Under the 6G, we expect near-zero latency. Since data is transferred so quickly, we expect it to be able to help run electric vehicles. This means a global reduction in carbon footprint. 

We still have a long way to go before 6G is introduced to the market. But experts say that by around 2030, this new network will be introduced. 

And that wraps up this article. If you want to read more interesting information, check out my article discussing the vulnerability of the US Power Grid and how susceptible it is to foreign attacks. [How Vulnerable is the US Power Grid?]

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways
5G backward compatible Samsung Galaxy Z Fold foldable smartphone

5G phones are backward compatible. They can still function through older networks such as 4G, 3G, and even 2G. However, 4G and older phones cannot use 5G technology. 

However, there is not consistent 5G coverage throughout the United States, especially in rural areas. 5G is also not yet normalized enough for 4G and even 3G to become completely obsolete.

5G is more powerful than 4G and has the ability to better enjoy instant data transfer which facilitates better streaming and downloads, playing online games, and the possibility of wireless virtual reality (VR).

By the time the 6G or 7G is introduced, however, expect the current dominant networks to become obsolete too.


Fremontii, LLC. is compensated for referring traffic and business and as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. By using the affiliate links, you are helping support our Website, and we genuinely appreciate your support.

John Mortensen

As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, geologist, or scientist. I became a project manager which is involved with many of those things. I am a project manager and tech writer who researches the latest alternative and green technologies. We write helpful articles about green electronics and green technology products. AI, extreme weather, electric vehicles, are all in our future and we want to know the best way to deal with the effects of these on the power grid and emergency preparedness.

Recent Posts