You're the proud owner of a new 5G phone — congratulations! We've got some bad news, though: if you live in the US, 5G probably isn't going to be the mind-bogglingly fast experience that you've been promised. For most regions, it's just a little faster than the 4G speeds we're used to using. But here's the good news: 5G is going to get better, so if you have a 5G phone you may want to make sure your plan delivers it.
If you got a phone recently, there's a good chance it supports 5G. Pretty much every new phone in 2021 — with the exception of some budget models — will offer some form of 5G support. Whatever your preferred brand or operating system, 5G is coming your way soon if you don't have it already.
Your phone is ready for the next big thing, but what about your data plan? Across the board, the major US carriers' unlimited plans already include access to 5G. However, carriers offer a mix of 5G bands that vary in speed and coverage. It's complicated, as all things 5G have been since it first appeared in the US.
Consider this your guide to the current state of 5G and data plans in the US — which ones include 5G, which don't, what variety of 5G they include, and whether you should consider upgrading depending on your carrier's implementation of 5G.
One important note for those with a 5G phone: even if you discover that your current plan does include 5G and it's available in your area, you may still need to upgrade to a new SIM card if you moved it over from an older device. A SIM card that was activated in a 4G device will still work with a 5G device, but you may have trouble connecting to the 5G network. Check with your carrier if you're not seeing the little 5G logo pop up on your screen and you think you should be.