Both the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G make it plenty clear that they have next-gen network capabilities, but they lack support for standalone 5G (SA) at this moment in time. While that’s not a big deal right now as most US carriers exclusively rely on the non-standalone tech (NSA), it could prompt some compatibility issues as carriers move to reduce their dependence on 4G LTE for fallbacks. Fortunately, we understand that the two pricier 2020 Pixel phones will get support for 5G SA through a software update next year.
In two separate filings at the FCC, Google gave away the fact that the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G lack support for the standalone mode, which is something we've been able to confirm with Google. So, even if T-Mobile flicks its SA network on in your area, you won’t be able to use it on your new Pixel phone right away. In fact, only a handful of phones, including some recent flagships from Samsung and OnePlus, currently support the SA standard. The Pixel 5 and 4a 5G also have all the necessary hardware to support 5G SA, but they just need a software fix to get it working.
We've been told that a software update will bring the capability to these two Pixel phones sometime next year, but we can't be any more specific than that right now. It’ll partner with specific carriers for the update’s rollout, depending on their individual need for 5G SA. Without support for Voice-over-NR (VoNR), they’ll still need to fall back to LTE for your calls to get through — so much for standalone.