How to save battery life when using 5G on iPhone 12 and 12 Pro

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save battery life when using 5G on iPhone 12
Are you using the right data mode?
Photo: Apple

If you’ve already upgraded to iPhone 12 or 12 Pro, you may have noticed that battery life isn’t quite as good as it was on your previous iPhone. That may be because of its super-speedy 5G connectivity.

5G consumes significantly more power than 4G, but there are some things you can do to minimize its impact. We’ll show you how.

5G is a big upgrade for iPhone, bringing mammoth increases in data speeds for those who live in an area where 5G is available. But is it really necessary? For many, 4G is still more than good enough.

If you’re not playing an action-packed online game, downloading an HD movie, or streaming, you probably don’t need 5G to be enabled. Luckily, Apple gives us some control over it.

iPhone 12’s different data modes

The iPhone 12 lineup ships with various data modes for you to choose from. By default, Apple enables 5G Auto, which automatically switches between 4G and 5G depending on what you’re doing.

If you live in an area where you get good 5G coverage, this is probably the mode you’ll want to stick with. It means you’ll get faster data when you need it, but power won’t be wasted unnecessarily.

If 5G coverage isn’t so good where you live, or you would simply prefer better battery life over faster data, there’s also a 4G mode. This disables 5G connectivity entirely, no matter what you use iPhone for.

Finally, there’s 5G On. This mode ensures that your iPhone is always connected to a 5G network (where a 5G network is available) — even if all you’re doing is replying to an iMessage or an email.

How to switch data modes on iPhone 12

It’s simple to switch between these data modes in no time at all. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Cellular, then Cellular Data Options.
  3. Tap Voice & Data.
  4. Choose the data mode you wish to use.

Note that the data mode you choose will remain enabled until you change it again. iPhone 12 won’t revert to 5G Auto, even after a restart, so bear that in mind if you only want to use another mode temporarily.

A final note on battery life

You may find that battery life on iPhone 12 isn’t as impressive as it was on iPhone 11 even with 5G disabled. That may be because the iPhone 12 lineup features smaller batteries than its predecessors.

Early testing carried out by Tom’s Guide revealed that on average, iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro last around an hour longer than iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro (with 5G disabled) in between charges.