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How to turn 5G off on your smartphone

Need to save your mobile data? Find out how to turn 5G off on your phone!

Alex Kidman
Apr 05, 2024
Icon Time To Read4 min read

Why would you want to turn off 5G?

5G networks and phones can deliver unparalleled mobile broadband speeds, and most of the time we’re left wanting more speed, not less.

However, all of that speed can come with a cost. No, we’re not talking about the cost of 5G phone plans and (sigh) no, 5G is not a significant health risk either.

What 5G connectivity can significantly affect is the battery life of your smartphone. Pushing all those bits around in the air takes its toll on battery life.
While that’s a matter that has improved somewhat since the early days of 5G phones, where it was quite common to see 5G itself chop battery life estimates in half, there’s no doubt that running the internal 5G radio antennae in most 5G phones will have a battery life cost. If you constantly run out of battery before the day is out and you’re using a 5G capable phone, it could be the toll of that extra radio is taking its toll.

While 3G networks are on the way out, 4G is here for the foreseeable future – all but certainly the general lifespan of your current smartphone – offering mobile broadband at decent if not earth-shattering speeds, so dropping 5G won’t automatically mean dropping offline.

As such, if you don’t need the speeds of 5G at a particular time – and especially if you’re in an area where you know there’s no 5G coverage – and you want to preserve battery life, then disabling 5G connectivity can make a lot of sense.

If you actually don’t want online connectivity or phone connectivity at all, then you can simply disable 5G – and every other radio on your smartphone – by dropping into Airplane mode on your phone, though that’s not typically why people might want to disable 5G specifically.

5G networks are faster, but that also means that they will chew through your mobile data allowance that much faster. If you’re constantly running out of data before the end of your contracted month or recharge period, dropping down to 4G speeds might help you go those extra couple of days.
Here’s how to disable 5G on common smartphone models.

One note to make before we start, however. With changes in operating systems, and in the case of Android different manufacturer launchers, the precise location and labels for some features and functions may change over time.

Broadly speaking, however, you should be able to work out what you need to do in order to temporarily disable 5G on a given phone with the tips below.

How to turn off 5G on your iPhone

Switching 5G off on an iPhone is a simple enough affair.

  • Open the Settings App
  • Tap on Mobile
  • Tap on Mobile Data Options
  • Tap on Voice & Data
  • Tap on “4G” – it’s most likely on “5G Auto” but may be on “5G On” instead. You’ll know if you’ve done it if there’s a tick next to “4G” on this page.

This setting will stay in effect until you switch it back to 5G On or 5G Auto, however, so if you’re only temporarily making that change and you wonder why your speeds in 5G zones are suddenly much worse, head back and select 5G to re-enable it.

How to turn off 5G on your Samsung Galaxy

Samsung uses its own OneUI launcher on top of Google’s Android operating system, which often means that it puts some settings in slightly different places to stock Android. Here’s how to disable 5G on current generation (OneUI 6) Samsung Galaxy Smartphones:

  • Open the Settings App – the easiest way is to swipe down to bring down the notification window, then tapping on the cog icon in the top right.
  • Tap on “Connections”
  • Tap on “Mobile Networks”
  • Tap on “Network Mode”
  • “5G/4G/3G/2G (Auto Connect) is most likely ticked; tap on “4G/3G/2G (Auto Connect)” to disable 5G specifically on your Samsung Galaxy phone.

Disabling the 5G radio on your Samsung smartphone will remain in place until you re-enable it. If you want to do that, you simply just need to undertake the same steps as above, switching from the 4G-only selection above to the one that includes 5G connectivity.

How to turn off 5G on your Google Pixel

Google’s Pixel phones run what is an essentially “stock” version of Android, and that means that what works for Pixels is often the closest match for a whole slew of other Android smartphones. Here’s how to disable 5G on a Pixel phone, in this case based around Android 14:

  • Open the Settings app, either from the App Drawer or via sliding down twice on the notification blind and tapping on the cog at the bottom right.
  • Tap on “Network and internet”
  • Tap on “SIMs”
  • Tap on the active SIM you want to make 4G-only – if you’re running dual SIM or with an eSIM you’ll need to switch each off in turn if you want 5G entirely disabled.
  • Scroll down on the page until you find “Preferred network type” and tap on it.
  • Change from “5G (recommended)” to “4G”

Again, this setting will stay in effect until you switch it back. For other Android phones the labelling may be slightly different, but the basic principles here should still apply.

Do you need more data?

If you’re looking to disable 5G in order to control your data usage, it could be a wiser move to instead look into a mobile  plan with more included data each month.

That’s especially true if you’ve been on the same plan for any length of time, because telcos often won’t let you know if there’s a better value plan you could switch to. It’s also quite simple to change providers, and in many cases you won’t actually be changing networks if you opt for an MVNO operator – you’ll just be getting more data and often for less money, which has to count as winning. 

Here’s a selection of mobile plans  with at least 50GB of monthly data for you to consider:

Alex Kidman
Written by
Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is some kind of word-generating AI from the future that somehow worked out how to sneak back in time to 1998 to start its journalism career. Across that time, including editorial stints at ZDNet, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag and Finder, as well as contributions to every major tech masthead, nobody has quite managed to figure out this deeply held secret. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

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