When it comes to 5G, the more common variants we’ve seen in the US are mmWave 5G and Sub-6. The main differences between both spectrums is speed and coverage, where mmWave 5G offers faster speeds but has a shorter range, making it ideal for urban areas with a higher density population, while the other offers a wider coverage but at the expense of speed.
There is a third option in the form of C-band, which slots in between Sub-6 and mmWave. Now, Google’s Pixel 6 phones can take advantage of C-band, but if you happen to own an older Pixel handset that has 5G capabilities, namely the Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, and Pixel 4a 5G, it looks like you won’t be able to take advantage of C-band on those phones.
According to Google’s announcement on the Pixel community page, Google has stated that they have no plans to support C-band in the US on the Pixel devices we mentioned above. The company writes:
“At this time, we do not have any plans to support C-band operation in the U.S. on Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5, or Pixel 5a (5G). These models will continue to have access to the Sub 6 and mmW services provided based on your carrier, plan, and location.”
Keep in mind that these devices can still use 5G, whether it be Sub-6 or mmWave, it’s just that it will have a bit less flexibility when it comes to coverage and speed, versus devices like the Pixel 6. What’s odd is that as 9to5Google points out, the Pixel 5 actually has the necessary hardware to support C-band, so it is unclear why Google isn’t supporting it.
That being said, it might be enabled in other countries. This is because it appears that C-band is actually a very popular 5G band in countries in Europe and Asia, so there is a chance that Google could actually enable support for non-US markets, but we’ll have to wait and see.