Does it help to manually search for networks? It should list the operator as well as the available standard. You could then also try to manually connect to a 4G network if you find it. It is also possible that both devices use different frequency band and that the Pixel just works better with what your network operator uses in your area.
I see the same behaviour with the same configuration, SMARTY and Fairphone 4. It rarely goes to 4G. When there is 5G signal it does switch to 5G but I don’t have another 5G device to compare if the switch is timely. The majority of the time the phone is stuck at H/H+ or even get a blank mobile signal icon with a cross for the data (as if there’s no data connection at all). I also checked the bands that 3 is using and they seem to be supported by the Fairphone. Not sure if it is a provider coverage problem or a HW/SW problem with the phone.
It would be interesting if anyone else has a comparison with a different provider (Vodafone, EE, O2).
I really don’t think the problem is with SMARTY (3 UK) as it’s perfectly fine in my wife’s Pixel 4a.
I think that unfortunately the antenna/radio system in the FP4 is just not as good as some other manufacturers. I wonder if this is somehow related to the FP4 being more modular for repairability?
I had also checked the cellular radio bands used by 3 UK and noted that the FP4 was compatible.
I have also noted that WiFi signals are also lower in the FP4 as opposed to the Pixel 4a.
I will upload a couple of screenshots from ‘Network Cell Info Lite’ app (which also shows WiFi as well as mobile cell data) once I’ve worked out how to do so
An update on this, I have been roaming using the same phone and SIM card over the Christmas period to Greece, the phone has been happily connecting to the local networks using 4G, no drops to H/H+. I will look into the network bands that the Greek networks are using and report back if they are different from 3’s bands which I suspect is the case.
With the latest update to Android 12 the phone is mostly on 5G. So it seems that it was something happening at the OS/Drivers/network stack level. Not sure if other people noticed a difference after the update?
My FP4 on A11 has always been “mostly on 5G”, even when in the boonies, so there is definitely some Operator/Fairphone interaction (or lack thereof) going on here.
I’m curious to see what will happen when it finally upgrades to A12.