Jio recently announced its plans to operate on SA (standalone) 5G networks. This is big news as SA 5G will not be chained to the confines of the existing 4G network, which NSA (non-standalone) 5G relies on. However, the question that consumers need to ask is whether all those ‘5G’ smartphones available at multiple price points today will support Jio’s SA 5G implementation.
Most popular brands in India now have a lineup of 5G smartphones that are marketed to be future-proof with support for the next-gen network. However, one of the often overlooked elements here is the support for 5G bands. To use 5G efficiently, across various parts of the country, where coverage can fluctuate, your 5G phone needs support for more 5G bands.
Jio will operate on the n3, n5, n28, n77, and n78 bands. However, 5G bands themselves can be split into NSA and SA bands, which, as the names suggest, will support NSA and SA networks on a particular device. Here’s a brand-by-brand look at some popular phones and whether they will support SA networks.
Xiaomi, Redmi and Poco
Popular Xiaomi, Redmi and Poco smartphones that support 5G support both 5G SA and 5G NSA bands. Xiaomi says these phones will get an OTA update for SA band support, after which phones will support Jio’s 5G networks.
“While most of our smartphones are NSA-ready, we have planned OTA update rollouts in a phased manner to ensure SA support. To guarantee an unhindered experience, most smartphones in our portfolio will be functional with SA mode compatibility very soon owing to timely updates,” Xiaomi said in a statement to indianexpress.com.
This includes Xiaomi phones ranging from the Xiaomi 11 Lite NE 5G to the Xiaomi 12 Pro. In the Redmi series, phones like the Redmi K50i 5G and the Redmi Note 11T 5G will also support SA networks. Poco phones from the M4 5G to the X4 Pro 5G also support both NSA and SA networks.
While the new Poco F4 5G doesn’t mention SA or NSA networks on its specifications page, we expect the value flagship phone to support SA networks.
Realme has a wide range of 5G devices in India, and phones like the Realme 9i 5G mention both NSA and SA bands on the specifications page. The same goes for mid-range phones like the Realme 9 Pro Plus 5G and Realme 9 Pro 5G. Top-end phones like the Realme GT series also support both NSA and SA network bands.
Realme is yet to reveal if its phones will directly support 5G SA networks, or if they’ll require an update to enable the same, similar to Xiaomi’s approach. That said, if the product page of your current or next Realme smartphone mentions both NSA and SA 5G support, your phone should run Jio’s SA 5G network, including phones as old as the Realme Narzo 30 5G. This information is still unable for some Realme 5G phones, like the Realme X7 5G.
Older OnePlus phones like the OnePlus 8 series and the first OnePlus Nord were 5G phones, but criticised for offering support for just the n78 band in India. Whether phones like the OnePlus Nord 2020 can use Jio’s SA 5G network is unclear, as its India product page doesn’t mention support for NSA and SA, instead listing out only the single n78 band. The same goes for the OnePlus Nord CE.
Meanwhile, the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro still support the n78 band. But the page mentions that “5G n78 can work both in SA and NSA mode” on the product page. Newer phones like the OnePlus 9 series support two 5G bands – n41 and n78, both of which will support 5G SA and NSA. However, since Jio will not operate on the n41 band, and thus Jio users using the OnePlus 9-series phones will still be stuck with only the n78 band.
The OnePlus Nord 2 5G and Nord CE 2 5G will support multiple 5G bands, both SA and NSA, and while the OnePlus Nord CE 2 Lite also supports multiple bands, the only one that will work with Jio’s SA network is the n78 band.
OnePlus 10-series users will thankfully have a better time with Jio’s 5G network, as phones like the OnePlus 10 Pro, OnePlus 10R and OnePlus 10T will support multiple 5G bands including n3, n5 and n78.
Apple started adding 5G support to its lineup with the iPhone 12 series. So if you are wondering if your iPhone 11 or older iPhone SE will run 5G, the answer is now. But the entire iPhone 12 and 13 series supports many 5G bands, all listed as 5G NR bands.
While support for 5G SA networks is likely on the iPhones, we currently have no confirmation of how Apple will implement the same. The iPhone 13 series supports SA 5G, and this is also mentioned by other global telecom company websites across the world that highlight the list of 5G devices. But with the iPhone 12 series, it is unclear if SA 5G is supported in India. For instance, one Singapore-based telecom mentions that the iPhone 12 series does not support SA 5G. But we also know Apple added SA 5G support for the iPhone 12 series in the US for T-Mobile networks in June last year. So a similar update could also make its way to India.
The Nothing Phone (1) also supports multiple 5G bands, both NSA and SA, and can support Jio’s standalone 5G network.
Samsung phones have had support for multiple 5G bands, from the low-end M13 5G to the Galaxy S22-series. However, Samsung’s product pages, just like Apple’s, do not specifically list support for NSA/SA bands as of right now. This leaves us unclear whether Samsung’s phones will support SA networks directly, or if they will need an OTA update to achieve the same.
Oppo’s entry-level 5G phones, such as the Oppo A53s 5G, have few 5G bands, but support both NSA and SA networks. Meanwhile, certain devices like the Oppo K10 5G and A74 5G do not mention support for SA/NSA bands.
Some phones, like the Oppo F19 Pro+, only support the N78 and N41 bands in SA mode. Support for SA/NSA bands is not explicitly mentioned for several other devices, like the Oppo 5 Pro, Reno 6 series, Reno 7 Pro and Reno 8 series. The Reno 7 5G is the only phone in the Reno series that mentions support for SA and NSA networks.
The Vivo T1 Pro supports both NSA and SA bands, and so do most newer Vivo phones like the V25 Pro and the X80-series. The latter’s product page also hints that a software update may be rolled out to enable support for SA networks. This is true for some older 5G phones, such as the Vivo Y72. The phone’s page mentions that an OTA update will bring support for SA 5G.
iQOO doesn’t explicitly mention support for SA/NSA bands for most of its devices, including newer phones like the iQOO 9T, iQOO Neo 6 and the iQOO Z6 Pro 5G. The same is true with older phones like the iQOO 7, which only supports the n78 band, but doesn’t mention any SA/NSA clarification.