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T-Mobile says that in this situation, you should disable 5G and use 2G instead

Last weekend, we told you that Verizon had posted a tweet from its customer service account with a simple workaround for those using a 5G enabled device with a rapidly draining battery. The nation’s largest carrier said “Are you noticing that your battery life is draining faster than normal? One way to conserve battery life is to turn on LTE. Just go to Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Voice & Data and tap LTE.” While Verizon didn’t exactly say the words “Turn off 5G,” turning on LTE is equivalent to disabling support for 5G.
What makes Verizon’s instructions so ironic is that the wireless provider continues to say that it is building 5G right and then turns around to tell those having a battery issue to turn it off. Sure, that might be worthy of a chuckle or two. If you’ve been following the mobile industry for some time, your first thought after reading our story might have been, “Ok, how is T-Mobile going to make fun of Verizon?” After all, just because former CEO John Legere is no longer pulling the strings at the carrier, it doesn’t mean that T-Mobile has stopped making fun of its rivals.

T-Mobile tells subscribers that to save battery life on their 5G phone they should turn off 5G and use 2G instead!


But PCMag discovered something interesting. T-Mobile’s own support page tells subscribers that if they are having problems with battery life on a number of models including last year’s Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G, they should turn off 5G on the phone (which is 5G enabled obviously), or turn off LTE on a phone that supports 4G LTE but not 5G, and go all the way back to 2G! That’s right, another carrier promoting the heck out of 5G is telling you to turn off 5G if you need to preserve battery life on the handset. But in T-Mobile’s case, it wants you to go back to download speeds that were even slower than AT&T’s EDGE, the slow as molasses airwaves that powered the original Apple iPhone in 2007. Download data speed at 2G has a theoretical peak of 1Mbps which makes it impractical to use to receive data. It also is 25 times slower than the speed that the FCC considers to be acceptable for Broadband and 300 times slower than the average 5G speeds that T-Mobile has been able to generate using its mid-band spectrum (and which it has been promoting often).

This morning, T-Mobile made some edits that removed the advice that said, “Toggle from 5G/LTE to 2G” and replaced it with, “Turn on Airplane Mode if traveling to an area without mobile signal or Wi-Fi.” T-Mobile does plan on shutting its 2G network for good although that might not take place until 2022. If using 5G results in a battery drain on your phone, you can try other things first such as lowering the brightness of the screen and the amount of time the phone counts down before the screen turns off. If you’re heading to an area without a cellular signal or Wi-Fi, turning on Airplane Mode should lower the demand for battery power. You might also want to uninstall apps that you are not using.

If you fail to see the irony in this, imagine a pharmaceutical company that advertises how its ibuprofen medication helps rid consumers of severe headaches only to discover that aligning the nearly invisible arrows on the child-proof label will give you a headache or make the one you’re experiencing even worse. So the company recommends that you use its jellybeans instead. The latter, of course, doesn’t require a child-proof safety opening, but it also won’t rid you of a headache either just like using 2G won’t be fast enough to run data over.

Let’s hope that AT&T has the sense not to follow Verizon and T-Mobile down this rabbit hole.

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