The latest Samsung Galaxy S20 phones are arguably among the best smartphones on the market right now, with high-end displays, great cameras and powerful Qualcomm 865 processors. A unique aspect of the 865 is that a 5G radio is included whether you need it or not. If you own an S20 or plan to buy one, but don’t live in an area that can benefit from 5G radios at the moment, here’s how you can turn it off (and may be save battery in the process).
How to turn off 5G on the Galaxy S20
Open the Application Settings on your Home screen or in your app drawer, or swipe down from the top of your screen.
- Press on Connections.
- Press on Mobile networks.
- Press on Network mode.
Press on LTE / WCDMA / GSM (automatic connection) or any of the other non-5G options.
Now your S20 will not try to connect to 5G towers. Technically, you don’t need to do this, because most experts agree that the battery savings by turning off the 5G radio are minimal, but the option is there if you wish.
Is it worth it?
Honestly? Probably not. Naturally, people may be confused as to the power consumed by these 5G radios during their use, especially in areas that do not have much 5G coverage. Confusion or paranoia is also understandable when you consider the mess of 4G / LTE deployment in its infancy. Back then turn off 4G could have a significant effect on battery life, but this is no longer really the case.
According to my colleagues Andrew Martonik and Alex Dobie, with the current operation of 5G, your phone is not constantly looking for a 5G tower. What usually happens is that your phone connects to a 4G network, and if this tower also supports 5G, it will transfer your phone to the 5G signal. On some networks like Verizon, the tower won’t even put you back in 5G until your phone starts transmitting data. Other networks like T-Mobile / Sprint can use the same antenna for 4G and 5G, so there is no interruption or “transfer” as we generally think.
This is really the difference between what is called SA (autonomous) and NSA (non-autonomous) 5G. Currently, most of us see the NSA, which means that all of our 5G connections are tied to existing 4G connections, so our phones won’t waste a precious battery looking for a separate 5G connection. The phone will search for 4G towers, and the tower will report what it has and whether or not that includes 5G.
TL; DR: If you live in a small town in rural America, you can turn off 5G because you will probably never see it anyway, at least not for a long time. But your phone know that he won’t see 5G because all the 4G towers he connects to tell him.
As we mentioned in our guide to activating VoLTE on a Galaxy phone, the exact menu options and steps may vary slightly from operator to operator and from location to location. Check with your specific operator if you still have questions about how the 5G service works on their network.
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If you were about to get the new Samsung Galaxy S20, jump in and join us – we think it’s one of the best Android phones of the year!