How to Switch Cellular Data Speed on iPhone from LTE, 3G, or 2G
iPhone users now have the ability to choose their desired maximum cellular data speed from available options. This data speed toggle was added to the iPhone with iOS 8.1 and is not yet available on all carriers, but for those that do support the data choice feature it’s quite easy to use.
As mentioned before, users must be on iOS 8.1 (or newer if you’re really special), and not all iPhones are going to have this option available within the Settings app, it’s ultimately dependent on the cellular carrier to allow users to switch their data speed. Users may want to connect your iPhone to a computer with iTunes 12 (or newer) before trying this to see if there is a carrier settings update available through iTunes which could enable it. If all else fails, you could always contact your cell plan provider directly and ask about the feature too.
- Open the Settings app on the iPhone and go to “Cellular” (sometimes labeled “Mobile” for other carriers)
- Tap on “Voice & Data”
- Choose your desired cellular data speed from the following options:
- LTE – the fastest cellular data service available, but can reduce battery performance
- 3G / 4G – moderate speed cellular data transmission
- 2G / Edge – very slow cellular data, largely unusable for anything beyond transferring small amounts of text and data
- Tap back onto “Cellular” and exit out of Settings to set the change
Remember, whatever you choose is the maximum speed, not necessarily a guarantee that your iPhone will always use that chosen cellular connection speed. Thus, even if you choose LTE, you still may cycle down to 3G or 2G if the connected cell tower only supports those speeds. On the other hand, choosing something like 3G will cycle down to 2G, but will never cycle up to LTE.
For most users, they’ll want to stay with LTE as the default choice, since it tends to provide the best experience for speed and usability for iPhone. Switching down to a lower cellular service can offer a way to increase battery life though, though by no means should the addition of this feature in iOS 8.1 impact battery life in any way.
It’s not entirely clear what carriers support the feature and what carriers don’t, but it’s pretty easy to find out if your iPhone is one of them. For those that don’t allow a cellular speed option, tapping on “Voice & Data” will reveal a simpler list of options: Off, Voice & Data (the default), or Data Only. This includes AT&T and T-Mobile in the USA, though it’s uncertain of Verizon or Sprint support either, and it may actually be dependent on individual data plans. Many global carriers do have the option, however.