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Older Sprint phones don’t work on T-Mobile 5G network—yet

T-Mobile and Sprint’s recent merger has brought mostly good news to the carriers, but it would not be surprising if they encountered some hiccups along the way. One hiccup that was recently presented pertains to the T-Mobile 5G network—specifically that Sprint customers with older phones won’t be able to use it without upgrading their device, writes Mashable’s Matt Binder.

How old is too old for a Sprint phone to be compatible with T-Mobile’s 5G network? Even Sprint customers who have the carrier’s 2019 5G phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ 5G will have to upgrade their devices when T-Mobile turns Sprint’s 5G network into its own.

Sprint customers who have a Galaxy S20 will be able to use T-Mobile’s 5G network without an upgrade however.

“The 5G network is about to get a lot bigger for Sprint customers,” T-Mobile said in a release. “Those with the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G will have access to T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G network starting later (in April), which covers more than 200 million people, more than 5,000 cities and towns, and more than one million square miles across the country—much of which is in rural America.”

Why aren’t Sprint’s older phones compatible with T-Mobile 5G?

The lack of compatibility stems from how Sprint built its 5G network, according to Mashable. The OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and LG V50 ThinQ 5G don’t have modems that support T-Mobile’s low-band 5G network. Meanwhile the Galaxy S10 5G can’t register the LTE anchor band for T-Mobile’s 2.5GHz 5G. Three years is the expected timeline for merging Sprint’s infrastructure into T-Mobile’s network.
T-Mobile plans to let Sprint customers with older phone models know about upgrade deals, but they can use their carrier’s 5G network in the meantime. Sprint customers who don’t want to upgrade, but have compatible LTE phones can roam on T-Mobile’s LTE network, giving them access to more than twice the amount of LTE sites on Sprint’s network.

“The millions of Sprint customers with compatible (4G) LTE phones, they can now roam on T-Mobile’s (4G)LTE network, so when they leave an area covered by Sprint LTE, they can stay connected with T-Mobile,” T-Mobile said in a release.

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