Three Pixel phones lose 5G SA networks after March update

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The March update for some older Pixel phones reportedly ditches support for 5G standalone (SA) networks. The Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5, and Pixel 5a are the affected phones that all use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipsets.

The issue was first spotted by Reddit users. The impacted Pixel users complained their devices couldn’t connect to the 5G SA following the March 2023 security update.


As a side note, 5G Standalone is a type of connectivity that relies on the 5G core network and doesn’t operate on the 4G LTE network. Lower latency, higher throughput, and VoNR (Voice over New Radio) are some perks of 5G SA. In the United States, T-Mobile is the only provider of 5G SA networks.

March update deprives older Pixel phones of connecting to 5G Standalone networks

Yet, the Pixel phones that are powered by Snapdragon chipsets are impacted, and the Pixels with Google Tensor SoCs can still connect to the 5G SA. T-Mobile reportedly prevented the impacted users from connecting to its 600MHz low-band 5G spectrum through a non-standalone network because their devices were VoNR capable.

Google’s timing to remove 5G SA support from its old phones is also interesting. The tech giant waited until a recent Pixel trade-in sale was over. The program allowed users to switch their old Pixel phones with a newer model powered by Google’s Tensor chip.

If your Pixel phone is affected following the installation of the March update, downgrading the firmware is the only thing you can do. Of course, you might need a SIM to unlock from T-Mobile if you’re living in the United States. Meanwhile, you can also disable the T-Mobile 5G in Settings > Network & internet > SIMs > Preferred network type and select LTE.

The Redditor Price suggests that users might be able to enable VoNR and 5G SA through QPST (Qualcomm Product Support Tools) software. However, playing with QPST requires some technical knowledge and must be done by an expert.

The impacted Pixel users can hope that Google brings back VoNR by the April update.