Why Does My iPhone Say LTE Instead of 5G

why does my iPhone say LTE instead of 5g

So you just got a new iPhone that’s supposed to support a 5G network. You were excited to experience mobile browsing faster than before. But then, when you fire up your brand-new iPhone, how come it’s not connecting to 5G? The status bar indicates that your iPhone is connected to LTE instead. Did you receive a fake iPhone? Is it broken? So, you ask yourself the question, “Why does my iPhone say LTE instead of 5G?” Well, don’t worry, if you are sure that you got a 5G-capable iPhone, there’s probably nothing wrong with it. Read along to find out some of the reasons why your iPhone is saying LTE instead of 5G connectivity.

What is the Difference Between LTE and 5G?

Before I discuss the possible reasons why your iPhone says LTE instead of 5G when in fact you are very sure that you got a 5G-capable model, let me differentiate the two networks first. So, in a nutshell, LTE is the popular term for the 4th-generation cellular networks that have been the default standard for high-speed mobile connectivity since its introduction as early as 2004. Since 2008, the 4G network has been providing substantially faster data speeds, better application performance, and cheaper operational costs than its predecessors.

Sometime between 2018-2019, the 5G network emerged and became the new wireless global standard. 5G networks offer better multi-Gbps peak data rates, low latency, improved dependability, massive bandwidth, enhanced availability, and more consistent customer experience. In short, 5G offers users faster connectivity resulting in a better experience when using their mobile devices.

Which iPhones Do Not Support 5G, and Which Are 5G-Capable

When 5G wireless technology gained traction in the mobile industry, Apple was among those who quickly jumped into the bandwagon. So for its 2020 iPhone releases, Apple brought 5G capability to the iPhone 12 series of devices. This means whether you purchased the iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max, you were assured of faster data connectivity through 5G networks. Apple continued to adapt 5G network support in all of its succeeding iPhone models since then

So, if you’re asking which iPhone does not support 5G, the answer is simply those models that were released before the iPhone 12. Hence, the iPhone 11 does not support 5G. The iPhone 7 is not 5G compatible, and the iPhone 8 does not have 5G capability. You may want to check out Apple’s long list of iPhone models that support 5G networks and the specific 5G bands that those models support, to confirm whether your handset is 5G capable.

Answering the Question – ‘Why Does My iPhone Say LTE Instead of 5G?’

Now that you know which iPhones support 5G networks, and know that your particular model is 5G capable, why might it still say LTE rather than 5G in the network status bar? There are several reasons why that could happen to your iPhone. But first, there are three important things you need have if you want to use 5G with your iPhone.

  • An iPhone 12 model or later.
  • A carrier that supports 5G.
  • A5G cellular plan.

If you believe that you all have those three requirements and your iPhone still says LTE instead of 5G, the possible reasons are listed below.

Four Possible Reasons

  1. Your iPhone most likely says LTE instead of 5G because you are in an area where there is no 5G network available. Apple has a list of 5G compatible iPhone models and the countries where 5G networks are available.
  2. Another reason for your iPhone to say LTE instead of 5G is that your cellular service plan does not allow 5G network connectivity. If you’re in the U.S. and Canada, Apple has a list of carriers that support 5G networks.
  3. If you are sure that your cellular service plan includes 5G connectivity, there’s also the possibility that your plan has throttled down to 4G after reaching your data limit.
  4. Finally, if you’ve checked everything and know you should be connecting to 5G but still see LTE instead, follow the steps below to check if your handset is configured to a 5G network.

Time needed: 1 minute.

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Cellular > Cellular Data Options.

  3. You should see the screen below on your iPhone if 5G is activated.

  4. If you don’t see the same screen, turn on Airplane Mode, then turn it off again.

    Next, repeat step 2. If you still don’t see the same screen, contact your cellular data provider to confirm your plan supports 5G.

Bonus Tip: Choosing 5G Options on Your iPhone

As per Apple’s advice, when your iPhone is configured to a 5G network, the default settings are optimized for battery life and data usage based on your data plan. Even so, you may want to customize the 5G options on your iPhone so your handset knows when you want to use 5G and how much data to use for some apps. Follow the steps below to customize 5G options on your iPhone.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Tap Cellular > Cellular Data Options.
  3. Choose from the three options below as to what best suit your needs. Remember that using a 5G network could affect your handset’s battery life.
  • 5G Auto: Choose this option to let your iPhone switch to LTE if 5G speed in your current location does not offer a better experience than LTE.
  • 5G On: Choose this option to let your iPhone automatically use the 5G network whenever it is available.
  • LTE: Choose this option to ensure your iPhone only uses LTE, even when 5G is available.

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