How to Disable LTE on iPhone (and Why You Might Want To)
If your iPhone has LTE networking, and most do these days, there are some situations where you may want to disable the LTE cellular network. This can be helpful in a variety of cases, from a self-imposed data throttle of sorts, to even gaining a more stable connection in a situation where you may notice the LTE network will drop or cycle quickly between 3G, LTE, or even 2G / EDGE. That latter situation, which usually occurs in low coverage areas, can lead to quick battery loss or continuously dropped calls, as the iPhone is constantly seeking a signal, and turning off LTE is often a quick remedy for it.
While some cell providers allow you to switch the data speed directly in the iPhone Settings, which is another approach to the aforementioned issues, not all providers do so. Nonetheless, all providers with LTE do allow you to turn off LTE in one way or another. In any case, here’s how to turn off LTE on an iPhone.
How to Turn Off (or Turn On) LTE on iPhone
- Open the Settings app on iPhone and choose “Cellular” at the top of the list
- Tap “Cellular Data Options” (in newest versions of iOS, older do not have the sub menu)
- Tap on “Enable LTE” and choose “OFF” (or alternatively, you can set ‘Data Only’ to stabilize some voice calls, or “Voice & Data” as the default)*
- Wait a moment for the iPhone cellular connection to cycle on and off again and 3G / 4G should now be on as default with LTE off, as visible in the status bar of the iPhone
- Exit Settings and enjoy your slower cell connection
* Note that some carriers show “Voice & Data” here instead if they allow you to actually change and set the data speed manually at 3G, LTE, or 2G. That is not the case with all cell providers or cell plans, and when that manual control is absent, disabling LTE will instead cause the iPhone to use either a 3G or 2G connection, whichever is available.
Do note that LTE is dramatically faster than 3G / 4G, and in some areas, 3G is so slow or oversubscribed that it’s practically unusable to transmit any data beyond a block of text. If you’re doing this because you’re hitting your cell plan limit and want to self impose some data throttling, another option would be to simply disable data completely and instead rely only on Wi-Fi while the iPhone is up against the cellular data plan limitation.
This particular iPhone used in the example screen shots is using AT&T with an unlimited data plan, which does not offer the data speed selection directly, but instead will switch to the 3G (4G as AT&T calls it) if LTE has been specifically turned off. I’ve heard from some users that other AT&T plans do give a manual feature that is enabled through a carrier settings update, but that is not the case with this particular device.
For the vast majority of iPhone users, just keep LTE on, the performance is so superior to the other networks that turning it off, even if it may save some battery life, is not worth the speed reduction. If your interest in this is to extend how long an iPhone lasts on a single charge, perhaps a better approach for most users is to use Low Power Mode but keep LTE enabled anyway.
What does LTE stand for anyway?
LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and it represents the high speed wireless communications technology that many modern cell phones and cellular devices use for high speed mobile communication. LTE is not iPhone specific, it is used by many modern cell phones for high speed data transfer. You’ll often see the “LTE” symbol in the corner of an iPhone, and other cell phone and mobile devices too. When you see the LTE symbol on your device, that means you’re connected to an LTE network, as opposed to 2G EDGE, 3G, etc.