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Home / Tips and Tricks / The 5G signal from your iPhone 12 may not be fast enough yet. How to turn it off and use 4G instead

The 5G signal from your iPhone 12 may not be fast enough yet. How to turn it off and use 4G instead


5G is one of the main features of the iPhone 12, but not available to everyone.

Patrick Holland / CNET

Apple’s latest line of iPhones – the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max – are all able to connect to 5G wireless networks. That means if your carrier has 5G coverage where you live or work, you should see faster speeds and a more reliable connection. But that’s not always the case. Your iPhone 12 may constantly switch back and forth between LTE and 5G and refuse to send messages or refresh your favorite app, or the battery life may not be the same as with LTE. Frustratingly, you may not have the right pricing plan to even access the new network, and you may not want to take it to a new level. In other words, for you it may not be the right time for 5G.

Fortunately, Apple has given you control over your phone’s 5G connection. With just a few taps, you can turn off the new feature or adjust how and when it is used to download updates, for example.

To be clear, Apple has built a new Smart Data feature into the iPhone 12’s software that only uses a 5G connection if you are doing something that requires it, such as streaming a video or playing a game over a cell link. The purpose of switching between an LTE and 5G connection in the background is to extend the battery life of the iPhone 12. The shortening of the battery life can therefore be negligible. I personally haven’t been able to test the difference as I don’t have 5G coverage.

That said, if you don’t want or need your phone to connect to a 5G network, you can turn off 5G with just a few taps on your iPhone’s screen.

You don’t need to do too much to enable or disable 5G, but there is more to know.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

Disabling 5G on iPhone 12

Open the Settings app then go to Mobile > Mobile data options > Speech and data and tap LTE. Your phone will then turn off the 5G connection and revert to (sometimes) slower LTE connection. You can always turn 5G back on whenever you want, or whenever the service improves in your area by repeating and selecting the steps above 5G Auto. Or if you prefer your iPhone 12 not to use Apple’s Smart Data mode, you can force it to always use a 5G connection, if available by selecting 5G on.

iphone-12-data-5g setting

Install OTA updates via 5G? It is possible.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani / CNET

One more thing …

If you decide you want to leave your iPhone 12’s 5G connection on 5G Auto, it is a good idea to double-check this setting.

Go to Settings > Mobile > Mobile data options > Data mode on your iPhone. There you will find three different options for how aggressive your iPhone will be with how apps and services can use your 5G connection.

For example with Allow more data on 5G selected, your FaceTime and streaming video will come through in “high quality,” and you can even download future iOS updates over a 5G connection.

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Read the descriptions for each data mode and select the one that works best for you – and remember, even if your provider praises unlimited data plans, chances are there is some kind of limit after which your internet speeds will slow down.

If you are waiting for your iPhone 12 to be delivered, now prepare your current iPhone, which makes for a smooth upgrade process when it arrives. After that, read our guide regarding four different ways to set up your new phone, and then dig into these settings.

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