How To: Disable 3G on the iPhone 3G For More Talk but Less Speed

How to Disable 3G Settings on iPhone 3G

Apple rates the iPhone 3G's talk time at 5 hours over the high-speed 3G network. While the call quality seems vastly improved due to more data being passed through the 3G pipe, some of the more chatty among us may find that 3G isn't just fast -- it's non-user-replaceable-battery draining fast!

Don't care as much about speed and clarity as you do sheer volume of talk time? Or what if you're just in an area that's not (yet?) covered by 3G? You're in luck! Apple has provided a way to turn off the 3G -- and blazing fast broadband-like HSPA speed that goes with it -- and drop back down to 2.5/2.75G -- and the dial-up-eque EDGE that is turtle to the 3G hare.

Boom! 10 hours of talk time! (And for those of you in countries with more restrictive/ridiculous data caps, a way to help pace yourself and starve your data-hungry iPhone).

Just remember: slow data transfer, not as good call quality, no simultaneous voice and data (you can't talk and surf the web on EDGE at the same time).

Step-by-step instructions after the break!

From the Home screen, tap Settings, then tap General:

iPhone 3G: Settings: General

Then tap Network, and right on top you'll see a slider for Enable 3G. Set On/Off as desired, and you're good to go.

iPhone 3G: Network Settings: Enable 3G

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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How To: Disable 3G on the iPhone 3G For More Talk but Less Speed


At my house i went from 0-2 bars with 3g to 5 SOLID bars on Edge. I'll be keeping the 3g off until I need it. I think it was very smart to include the option to turn off the 3g radio. This is my first iPhone and it is the most awesome gadget i have ever owned. I was 100% anti Apple 4 weeks ago. Not anymore. Thanks!

I got the iPhone 3g yesterday-
It seems that on the 3g network im getting less bars than on the edge-
When it says i have 1-2 bars on 3g does that mean I have only 1-2 3g bars ON TOP of full edge?
Or just 2-3 Bars like normal?
This whole thing is confusing me...

Same here. I've got 5 bars with EDGE, but only 1 bar with 3G. I'm right on the edge (no pun intended) of the 3G map according to AT&T.

Argh. I'm supposedly in 3Gee territory, but all I get is edge at my house. This is fine if I only needed data, but even my edge reception sucks. I get 3 bars max. I need to install a serious signal booster. Does anyone know if ATT does anything about bad reception?

Has anyone unlocked the 3g phone yet? If so will it work on Sprint or Nextel system? I want to buy the new 3g but dont want to sign up for ATT services.
any advice?

What Peter said. Except, I haven't met an AT&T rep yet that has said there's a way to get rid of the data plan. If there's a way to do that (and save $30/month in the process) I'm all ears.

So after I get my ihone, I can just log into my account online and unsuscribe from the data plan that ATT will make me sign up for?

Shu: The iPhone will not work on Sprint's network b/c Sprint's network is CDMA not GSM (like AT&T's). The iPhone does not have a CDMA chip.

Shu: The iPhone also will not work on Nextel. Nextel is IDEN. The only other national GSM provider that will work with the iPhone is Tmobile.

In Canada you can buy an iPhone 3G through Rogers or Fido (which is owned by Rogers). With both companies you can sign up for a voice and data plan separately though they encourage you to get the typical voice/data bundles. You can also get just a voice plan (no data) but they strongly discourage that, of course. This is good policy for the customer (some of them will get voice only plans and then get dinged with big bills) and great policy for the cell companies (they urge people to spend more money).
After that preamble, I am almost certainly getting an iPhone with voice only. The reason is that I think I'll use all the features of the phone except I have little desire to access the 'net "anywhere, anytime" so why double my monthly Internet bill by getting a data plan on my phone? I already have wifi at home and at school.
After talking to Fido, they assured me they could deactivate my data service if I called them but they (I'm almost sure mistakenly) told me that if they did that, it would also deactivate the phone's wifi data abilities.
Can anyone confirm that this is nonsense and or disinformation?

Trevor: They told me that it would not deactivate the wifi. The lock is applied to their end not to the phone. It would not allow your phone to "sync" to their data network. Also by them locking it you would not receive any data through their network.
I suggest you call back and speak to a supervisor (and not Carol she has no clue what she is talking about...she thought the Samsung Jack they sent me by "mistake" was exactly the same as an iPhone).

Im also in canada and I just bought the iphone without the data plan, Im trying to figure out how to block fido's internet so I can just use the Wifi instead. If anyone can figure out how to block the internet from the provider that would be cool

I have the same problem of not wanting to access the Fido data network when I'm not using Wifi. Called Fido to block but they say the system can't block data usage on iPhone but works on other data phones from Fido.
Is this true, does the guy from Fido service knows what he is talking about. The did put a block on WAP data access and GPRS, blah blah on my account but unfortunately, I can still access Fido edge data download when I hit weather on the iPhone 3G.

@Justin: I would ask to speak to a supervisor. And tell them to go check while you wait on hold. They don't like to but they will dig deeper if you force them to. In my bad experience with Fido and them "losing" my phone and switching it for Samsung. I have had to speak with 4 CSRs and 2 different supervisor. Only one was unclear that with a voice only plan that the data could be shut-off. I have confirmed with them each time that the data is shut of and I will not be charged for data as I won't be able to access it and they confirm this. If you are worried it is legal in Canada to record your phone conversation... record it and when your bill comes and if it isn't correct play back the conversation. It seems to perk up the Fido CSR supervisors when you play back a word for word conversation to them. But I really don't think it would get this far. Call Fido get an answer. Call back later in the day get an answer and call back again and get an answer. This should help your fears.
Also inform them that while you have been told they are blocking data access to your phone that you are still able to get weather through Fido Edge. By informing them that their data blocking is not working then you are basically covering yourself should they try to charge you for Data if you requested it to be blocked.

thank you so much for your feedback Jonahthan. The beef I have is that they say the data block works on other phone BUT the iPhone. So basically, it means I get charge if I do anything on the iphone that seeks data update, like weather, email, etc. :(

Hey Justin, I have the same problem. I called in to Fido and ask them to block my 3G/EDGE usage, but I can still online when my wifi is off...
So is it true that Fido will not disable iPhone data usage?

Hey all, I don't know wtf is going on with FIDO! They say it's blocked (GPRS and WAP) but I'm still getting Edge ('E')
showing up on my iPhone.
I can't believe it can't be blocked. I'm going to call them again tomorrow to speak to a supervisor.

I called Fido BEFORE i got the iPhone to confirm that I can block the internet and not receive any data charges. But.... I got 35k of data when "testing" whether is the data disabled... and burned $1.75...
I can also confirm that Rogers allows subscriber to use the iPhone with the data blocked. I have 2 friends who did that.
I have a bone to pick with Fido tomorrow. Let's keep updating...

ok Guys so for all the fido users out there I just blocked my data, Fido will block it for you for sure.
Now I will wait a full 24 hours and try connecting and see if its properly blocked ... if any of you have managed to block the the providers internet my question is ... have you tried to use wifi and has it worked. and when youve blocked the provider and your not connected to a wifi network what does you iphone do when you select anything ?
I'll keep you guys updated on my end

I called Fido 4 times now.. Each and everytime they told me the internet was blocked. And some said the previous block wasn't correct, so they block it again and asked me to wait 2 hours for it to be in effect. But until now, I still CAN access EDGE...
They did not they me they were unable to block EDGE. They keep telling me it is blocked although I can still access it. And also, I believe it CAN be blocked because my friends had Rogers blocked their iPhone and they can only access internet through wifi... (For your information, the E or 3G sign will NOT appear on my friend's iPhone, only the wifi sign if they are connected to wifi)
Tell me if you have any luck blocking Fido internet...

i got an iphone with not plan and I can't conect to wifi at home can you tell me about it.Thanks

Hi guys,
I got my iPhone from Fido without data plan. The fido store staff told me that he will disable my data so that I won't be charged. SUCH A LIE!! Although my 3G was disable, EDGE network connection wasn't. Therefore, I was able to connect to the internet even when wi-fi was not available.
Today, I called Fido customer service. CSR helped me COMPLETELY DISABLE all network connection (i.e. 3G and EDGE). The only downside of this was that it also disable Visual Voice Mail. I was told Visual Voice Mail will not work unless I have 3G or EDGE capability. I cancelled my $15 iPhone value pack, and switched over to a $11 value plan which includes normal voicemail. Too bad I can't use voicemail, but it doesn't make any sense if I get charged per kb for even just checking voicemail.
I was told by the CSR that i will be credited whatever the data fee that's been incurred as it was not my fault. I was served by a very helpful staff ;-)
Good luck everyone!

hi, i amthinking of getting an iphone with rogers, after reading these helpul post im still a lil confused about the subject of blocking the 3g and edge, my question is to someone who is with rogers and has a iphone without the data plan, i just wanna know if your wi-fi will still work (after 3g and edge has been blocked) and if there is any risk of using there net by accident and get those bills which costs an arm and a leg.
Thank You, Mark

Just got the iphone from Fido. I did not take the data plan and have blocked 3G and Edge. I use only WiFi to access the net, when it is available. Suggest you check out the link I posted earlier on youtube and it will give you a better idea. Good luck.

Hello guys, Just bought my iphone from the Fido store at Eaton's. Since im a student i am not gonna use the internet every second so i did not get any data plan. I went into settings disabled my 3G and i also called 611 to disable my whole internet (3g plus E) . After an hour of waiting they finally did and they told me i just have to turn it off and back on. Guess what after i reset it the 3G and E icon did not appear in the top left corner. The only thing that appears the lines if you are connected to wi-fi. After i used my wi-fi i also went into the usage and the data still displayed as at begining. You can also call *28 to give u an up to date free of charge account balance. I used the internet so much and the account was still the same after i called like 4 times. I also installed peter john's patch that he posted just to make sure. So i guess if you dont want to get a data plan and want to save some real money you could do it, just be carefull when u use the internet always look at what network u are using. Hope this helps. Have a great day .

Hey Peter John,
That link looks legit and all but what if i want to subscribe to the data plan at a later time. is there anyway to uninstall that fix or change the settings so that data can be used?

I just got my fido iPhone 3G which i placed an order for on the 11th July on the phone, the agent that served me that day told me that i could disable the data connection on their end and they have done that for me, but she told me that some apps would still require 3G network so if i disable it, i would not be able to access some apps, like visual voicemail, which is fine for me since i have caller ID and hate using voicemail. So i plug in it my computer, sync everything, went in to Settings > General > Network and put "Enable 3G" and "Data Roaming" to OFF and type in my WiFi network passcode... i have been able to surf, receive emails, check the weather, google maps etc etc... there's is no E icon or 3G icon at the top on my status bar, only Fido signal bars and the airport network icon. and my Data Usage shows 0k, which is all good... right?
Then today i called again to order another one for my brother, this time the agent told me that they can't block data connection for this new one under my brother's account, it seems like they had feedbacks from customers who tried blocking that they were still able to access 3G and Edge, and this only happens to the iPhone but not any other phones. ??? They said to call again when the new phone arrives at the end of August to see if they have a solution by then. So i told them i will and thank them, they were pretty helpful but it all comes back to them trying to make no guarantees that i will not be charge for data usage per usage if i do not have a data plan.
So that had me worried, and i spend the last 2 hours googling on the web to see if there was a solution to this problem. Seems like everyone is saying different things... so i'm confused now. I just tried turning off my WiFi and enabling 3G and data roaming on the phone, nothing connects, there's no E or 3G icon. I hope that means my phone is successful blocking both Edge and 3G on Fido's end.
Well, it's been two days only now, so i guess i will try taking it outside tomorrow and see if anything funny happens when it leaves my WiFi network, like trying to find connection with other WiFi networks or would it try to connect to 3G or Edge.
David and Danny, I hope that helps...
If anyone else has feedback, we would appreciate it if they all post it up, this way we can compare results :)

Finally got my iPhone...even after being told that the data was blocked out. It wasn't. I had a installed the config file discussed in a previous file, but I had just run an update, note that the config file gets removed with updates!!
I had load an App on the phone, one that doesn't use web utilities (iSaber, yah I know geeky) and it connected to the App Store for an update. I didn't know they did that but anyways.
Immediately I looked at the data usage and there was some received and sent. Called them up and said what gives...I got the sorry Sir but you have the wrong data blocker on your account. Well whose fault is that. The stoner on the other end of the line was real stupid. He then tried to dissuade me from getting the 3G blocked as it would disable the wifi. He also said they could charge for the WiFi. I am not an idot...I know quite a bit about systems, etc. I asked him was this a configuration they send to my phone or was this something housed on their system.
"It is on there system, nothing gets sent to the phone. "
So how does it disable the Wifi?
"It blocks the message being sent from the Wifi in the phone thus not allowing it to activate Wifi networks."
I didn't argue much further I just told them to go ahead and do it as an experiment, I then broached the subject of an App calling the App Store for an update...I don't want to be paying for that if I was told data was blocked.
"Sorry Sir but I cannot see charges on your account until after the billing date in September"
What kind of system is Fido on? They seem so lost. They lose my first phone, they send me a Samsung the second time around, then they tell me a phone won't be in my hands until August 22nd and the next day it arrives. Now they cannot operate their own computer system.
Anyways...if they weren't the only game in town I would jump ship (don't mention rogers as they don't know much more)
Moral of the story check that the config file discussed previously by Peter John is installed prior to installing any application once you do an update. One little free app just cost me, potentially $20.
By the way, after being told that 3G and Edge would be blocked I still get both icons.

Hello everyone. I have called fido for the iphone since i'm planning on getting one, and asked for the data to be blocked. They said although they block it can sometimes switch to 3G and start charging me data, and therefore would have to pay the amount charged. I would like to know if this is true, or they're only saying this to make me buy the data plan. Do you think I should still get the iphone. Thanks

Ok, so even after installing the patch, getting confirmed with FIDO that both WAP and EDGE and any iPHONE internet connection has been cancelled, has anyone been able to connect to the net via WiFi?? and once all is said and done if you turn WiFi off do you still see the E for edge?

I have a question... I've also called to have my 3g blocked from Fido... and actually, the girl offered it to me.. I told her yes, but ever since, I cannot connect at all... even using wifi!!! My wifi is turned on, and when I go to the internet, it tells me 'Cannoe Open Page because it is not connected to the internet' even though I am.. any help here??

Ok Canadians, how does this all apply to the US based AT&T plans. Can i disable the G3 and Edge network. I have had Verizon sales tell me they will not sell me a data phone if i don't activate the data plan which i found out later is illegal. Verizon is to expensive 180 dollars a month with no data no messaging and no roll over, yea for me.
So will these apps you are talking about block G3 and Edge from starting up and causing a mega cell phone bill? Can AT&T decline to sell me a IPhone or decline to activate the i-phone if purchased direct from apple w/ out the data plan (i have had that happen before with verizon)?

can someone explain the basic differences here?
i'm confused as to what provides what and how incoming data comes in.

  1. what specifically is AIRPLANE MODE turning off?
    if i turn on airplane mode, am i disconnecting myself from both the AT&T network AND the 3G network?
  2. what gives you text messaging? AT&T or 3G or some combination of both?
  3. what gives you access to the internet? 3G, WiFi or both?
  4. what takes priority - 3G or WiFi?
    i.e. if i'm somewhere with a strong wifi signal but a low 3G signal, will i get the same data speed? do they work together to bring you data? or does one take priority over the other?

...trying to get it so i can set it and save battery life!

Have had my phone for 2 months and continue to drop calls constantly. I had Atnt with a motorola Q prior to the i-phone. I love it but can't keep a phone that doesn't work. Any suggestions?

I used Iphone3G with Rogers for 13 months 4 days ago, when I was updating firmware to 3.1.2, my phone crash ans loop in recovery mode.
WTF??? It was you who send a SMS to update the OS and now you said that you are not responsible?
bottom line they want to buy a new phone with 3 year contract again !!!!
I prefer to pay 420$ and cancel my service (120$ a month)
ROGERS is definetely one of the worst companies in Canada

My house is in ATT 3G according to their map but I don't get 3G. I filed a complaint with the FCC and within a month got a call from ATT Exec Case Mgr promising to help resolve my problem. ATT admits I don't really have 3G yet (despite their map). Still waiting to see how they are going to resolve this but I was impressed that the FCC complaint site got some action.

I put a password on my phone and i forgot it. Its now blocked and say iphone is disabled connect to itune network lost. what do i need to do?

Hey everyone. I just wanted to share my Fido experience. So basically the only time I use the Internet or app store is when I'm on my wifi network at home, which might I add, I have been using my itouch on for the past 2 years. I got my first invoice and I was charged for 400mb which was spread across everyday of my billing cycle. I called fido and told the guy that it's impossible that that much data was pulled from the fido network as I use wifi everywhere I go. He talked to a supervisor for about 15 minutes and basically said that it was an issue with my wifi which it clearly isn't. My conclusion at the end of the day is that even though it says I'm connected to my wifi it's ignoring that and utilizing the fido network. I'm choked, but this month I'm attempting with 3G off the whole month. From what I gather I think it's working cause I can't connect to anything unless I connect to a wifi or enable 3G.
Really long story short they continuously gouge people for as much as possible, even people in my case who have been with them for 13 years now...

Hi Rob, this lesson teaches us to track all expenses with providers. I even track all my finances with banks too. You can't trust your money with them.

Great post Thank you. Family members IPhone was not connecting to 3G and couldn't see why.

hi there
I have an iPhone 3G and when i try to use the internet with my 3G enabled it wont let me. I have tried everything but nothing happens. i Go to General - Network the enable 3G and nothing happens and there is no 3G icon thing near the carrier at the top.
Any ideas on how i can get it back and it is not Jailbroken.

I have had trouble pressing 1 to accept a call from my company's automated service. I have read that turning off the 3g may fix this problem. However, if I have it off all the time will I not have other services available while it's off?

For those whose iPhone 4 comes from Verizon, there is no "Enable 3G" feature. The button is called "Cellular Data on/off" and you simply slide it to off, if you want to disable 3G. I hope this helps someone, it took me ages to figure out!

Disabling cellular data is NOT the same as disabling 3G. No cellular data means you can't talk at all & your phone can only be used w/ wi-fi (unless you disable that, too). No 3G means I can talk on a slower network at the benefit of more battery life. AT&T users's iPhone's have BOTH options. It sounds like you don't get a choice in your 3G...

As you can read from Apple's Support Page, Disabling "Cellular Data" will makes you being unable to send/receive MMS, can't get voicemails and cannot surf the internet over "Cellular Network".. But you'll still be able to make phone calls, send normal SMS and also connect to available Wi-Fi networks.
Also.. I've got both "Disable 3G" and "Cellular Data" on my iPhone 4. (iOS 4.3.5)

You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be really one thing that I believe I might never understand. It seems too complicated and very wide for me. I am taking a look forward for your subsequent publish, I'll try to get the hang of it!