For the best 5G experience, iPhone users on T-Mobile need to make sure this 5G setting is turned on

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When 5G first became available in the U.S., most carriers continued to use networks running a 4G LTE core with 5G capabilities built on top. A 5G Standalone (SA) network is one with a 5G core and since it isn’t built over LTE, 5G SA networks deliver faster download data speeds and lower latency. AT&T reportedly is waiting for phone manufacturers since constant use of 5G SA could sharply reduce the battery life of a subscriber’s handset. Verizon is supposedly planning to launch its 5G SA service sometime this year. 

Faster 3Gbps download speeds available with 5G Standalone service require the use of Carrier Aggregation which combines multiple channels of 5G spectrum. To imagine how Carrier Aggregation works, imagine a sleepy two-way roadway adding additional lanes going in both directions allowing more cars to be on the highway driving at faster speeds.

T-Mobile debuted its Ultra Capacity 5G SA in November 2022 promoting download data speeds as fast as 3Gbps although at first, only flagship Samsung phones supported the feature. The carrier said at the time that it would expand its 5G SA support which it did when Apple released iOS 16.4 in March 2023.
To work with a 5G SA network, you’ll need to have your iPhone configured to run on such a network. We are going to give you the directions you need to enable support for 5G SA service. If you have an iPhone and you’re running iOS 16.4 or later, go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Voice & Data. Near the bottom of the screen, make sure the 5G Standalone toggle is turned on.

Apple writes underneath the toggle, “5G Standalone uses 5G for all cellular activity, including cellular network connections. This may impact battery life and reliability of voice and data connection.” If you don’t use T-Mobile for wireless service, you don’t need to turn on that toggle switch. Keep in mind that if you enable 5G Standalone, your 5G cellular performance will be improved although your battery life will take in on the chin.

After you toggle on 5G Standalone, you can make sure that you are connected to it by running a speed test. Dial 3001#12345# from the phone dialer and tap on “call” to go into Field Test Mode. You’ll see information about your 5G connection. If you’re running on a 5G Standalone network, next to connection_type you should see SA.


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