Make the most of 5G on your phone

The latest 5G technology makes it faster and easier than ever to use the internet on your mobile. Here’s what you need to know about accessing it

5G is the fast, reliable and mobile connectivity transforming how we live. Since arriving in the UK in 2019, our 5G network has been rapidly expanding. It now covers around 750 towns and cities*, with around 50% of the population expected to be covered in 2023. But if you want to make the most of 5G’s benefits, you need to ensure you have the right phone – and live in an area covered by the new network.

So what are the upsides of 5G, exactly? In a nutshell, the fifth generation of mobile phone internet technology is much faster than its predecessor, 4G. That makes downloading and uploading data quicker than ever – delivering a seamless, virtually glitch-free experience when streaming, gaming or video calling. Read on to learn how to access the speediest mobile internet on offer.

person in kitchen holding their phone

Choose your device

First things first: you’ll need a 5G-ready handset. If you’re a diehard Apple fan, this means an iPhone 13, 12 or SE (third generation). But plenty of powerful and stylish Android devices also work with 5G, so check to see if your existing device supports the network. Simply go to 'Settings' > 'Preferred network type' (or 'Settings' > 'SIM cards & mobile networks' > 'select a SIM' > 'Preferred network type'). If you see 5G there, you’re good to go. If not, you can browse dozens of new phones here and set the 'Features' filter to show '5G ready' phones only.

person with coffee holding their phone

Get the right SIM and tariff

A 5G-ready phone needs a SIM and tariff to match. Worried this sounds like a bit of a faff? It doesn’t have to be. All our SIMs are now 5G capable as standard, and our tariffs include 5G automatically – which means it couldn’t be simpler to get your new superfast phone up and running.

person with coffee holding their phone

Make sure your neighbourhood is covered

The UK’s 5G rollout hasn’t reached every region yet, so it’s worth popping your postcode or town into our Coverage Checker to make sure you can access the network in your local area. No dice? Don’t worry – we’re expanding our 5G coverage across the UK, and we’re on target to cover 50% of the population in 2023, so you might not have long to wait.

person holding their phone

Can’t use 5G? Maximise 4G

If you can’t yet get 5G where you live, or you’re not ready to upgrade to a new handset, you can still access faster, more reliable mobile internet with 4G. We’ve been busy investing in our 4G coverage with extra 4G network capacity added to over 314,000 UK postcodes so far in 2022. You can enjoy a better mobile experience, whatever G you’re using.

*Based on a threshold of 50% population coverage in a town or city and based on outdoor population coverage