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Do Factory Unlocked Models Show 5G or LTE+ on Sub 6 5G Network?


Well-Known Member
Aug 13, 2012
I have the Samsung Factory Unlocked version of the S20+ (model SG-M986U1). This means the phone is not carrier-specific, it works on all carriers (CDMA, GSM) and supports both millimeter wave (Verizon 5G Ultra Wide UW) AND lower frequency band 5G (usually called Sub 6). The 5G UW super fast network is typically only available in highly populated areas (cities) because it that frequency signal doesn't travel very far and is easily blocked by buildings. However you will notce the Verizon 5G coverage map shows 5G as being pretty widespread across the country. Most of that is their Sub 6 5G Network which was launched in mid October 2020. The 5G Sub 6 network, to my understanding, is using some of the same frequency bands as 4G so essentially it's really an amped up 4G signal using what is called Dynamic Signal Sharing (DSS) (A lot of people don't understand all this.)

I'm curious if there's anyone on the forums with a factory unlocked version of the S20 (typically the model number I think has a U at the end instead of VZW) can confirm if their phone shows a 5G icon when you are in sub 6 5G or does it show "LTE+" I read somewhere the unlocked phones show LTE+ because technically that is what Sub 6 band 5G using DSS really is and 5G in that case is more of a marketing term. Because different carriers use different terms for different networks, the factory unlocked phones can connect to all the different 5G networks but they can't accomodate all the different marketing terms. I'd also be curious if when connected to the millimeter wave 5G in the cities if these factory unlocked phones show the "UW" designation which is bascially a Verizon marketing term, or if the phone just shows "5G".

There was also an article that talked about these phones needing a software update to use 5G and supposedly the updates were pushed out right after Verizon announced their Sub 6 5G network launch in mid October. But the author wasn't sure if the Factory Unlocked non-carrier specific models would receive the necessary update. Considering Verizon and Samsung just signed a 6.5 Billion Dollar agreement for SAMSUNG to further build out their 5G network, I would be very surprised if it were the case the factory unlocked models didn't get the update.

My S20+ odel SG-M986U1 is showing Service Provider SW Ver. SAOMC_SM-G986U1_OYN-VZQ_QQ_0027 wondering if that's the 5G compatible version?

The other thing is a lot of people just swap SIM cards when they get a new phone. With 5G in most cases, if your SIM card was issued may months ago, you need to go into the carrier store and have them give you a new 5G compatible SIM card. I honestly can't remember if my phone was showing LTE or LTE+ before and after SIM card change. I tested the bandwidth after the change and in a strong signal area got 60mbit download but I didn't have a pre-SIM swap test in that area to compare to unfortunately.

I can't imagine how many consumers aren't aware of all these details but I suppose I'm in the minority of consumers that buy the factory unlocked version of my phones outright and don't finance it from the carrier like most people do making the price tags easier to swallow for people by spreading out the pain.
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Some more info. A Verizon Rep on the Verizon forum confirmed:

"I regret we are unable to detetrmine exactly how the unlocked phone may interact with our netowrk. I can confirm the Verizon version is Advanced LTE or LTE+ and 5G UW enabled but does not have 5G Nationwide which has similar speeds and performance to Advanced LTE."

This would indicate to me the software update the pushed out, at least for the S20 has been only to enable the Ultrawide 5G thus far.

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Well I feel like I'm going in circles but now found a Reddit thread that confirms what I originally suspected.

The Factory Unlocked (model ending in U1) S20 phones apparently have not got the update from Samsung yet to allow sub 6 5G connection. But there is a hack in that you can change the carrier network code to ATT even though you are on Verizon and it enabled the N5 band which is what Verizon uses for their "Nationwide 5G" To do this you dial *#272*your IMEI number# Then select ATT and Install and change network code only. Phone will reboot and now you will see 5G UW symbol.

I tried the CSC change on my factory unlocked S20+. I ran three successive bandwidth tests on bandwidthplace.com before and after the change so 3 times on VZW and 3 times on ATT. As others have alluded to the LTE DSS Sub 6 Flavor of Verizon 5G is on average about the same speed as 4G LTE+. So I just turned it back to VZW and will wait for the update from Samsung. I'm surprised a month and a half later it still hasn't got the update to allow N5 band on Verizon.

I'm also wondering is the S20 always show 5G UW when connected to any 5G including sub 6 5G and not actual millimeter wave ultra wide 5G? Or is that just a side effect of "spoofing" the ATT carrier code when actually on a Verizon network IMEI?
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