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How to turn off 5G on the iPhone 12

Apple’s iPhone 12 series is the first generation of the company’s mobile devices to feature 5G technology. This is critical for future-proofing your new phone for the next five years or so. It seems to have been key for 5G’s growth too, as Counterpoint Research proclaimed the iPhone 12 the best selling 5G smartphone within the first two weeks, accounting for nearly 25% of all smartphone sales in October 2020 and justifying the iPhone 12 Pro‘s position as the best 5G smartphone.

5G takes advantage of accelerated connection speeds. While support for the next-generation network becomes available in more locations, there are still plenty of places where 5G does not yet exist, as connectivity also depends on the carrier as well as the location, so you’ll want to use the current 5G selectively for now. In the U.S., Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile now offer 5G nationwide, but you’ll find most of the coverage in and around major metro areas with considerable population density.

Basically, you need to balance your need. Faster connection speeds, while unnecessary for scrolling through your Twitter feed, could prove extremely convenient for downloading a full-length movie. It’s up to you how you want to use the iPhone 12’s 5G capabilities, and Apple has made it flexible and easy to customize. While on Apple’s iPhone 12, 5G is on by default, governed by a Smart Data Mode designed to balance network speed and your battery, you can turn it off. Here’s how to turn off 5G in the iPhone 12.

How to turn off 5G in the iPhone 12

These instructions will work on the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

  • Go to Settings > Cellular.
  • Tap on Cellular Data Options.
  • Tap on Voice & Data. Most likely, it will be on the 5G Auto setting.
  • Tap on LTE to prevent the phone from using 5G. You can switch it back whenever you want.

Why turn 5G off?

It’s probably best to stick with the 5G Auto setting, so you can leverage faster speeds where it’s available and conserve battery life where it’s not. If extra speed is not critical, and you have long-term concerns about battery life, just leave 5G completely off for now. The 5G On setting automatically uses 5G wherever it’s available, without regard to battery life. Conversely, 5G Auto uses the network only when it doesn’t significantly impact battery life.

What should you do? Apple’s default choices are the most efficient for most people, so don’t feel compelled to monkey with the settings. Between the phone and carrier, network usage likely delivers the best combination of speed and battery usage. You can also set your data mode to Allow More Data on 5G from the default Standard, which lets the phone use 5G for everything possible, including maximizing streaming video quality or video chatting.

Whatever you do, be sure to double-check with your carrier to ensure your plan supports 5G, or whether you need to adjust your plan or even replace your SIM card to accommodate the new networking tech.

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Jackie Dove
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Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
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