What Is 5G Smart Data Mode

5G is a new, super-fast standard for mobile connectivity, but it also drains the battery, and quickly. Here’s how the iPhone 12 solves this problem.

In many (or most) ways, 5G is the superior technology option for wireless connectivity; it offers speeds many times over what the previous generation (4G) allowed, making the mobile device even more effective at entertainment and work while on the go.

There is one downside to 5G, however, and that’s that it is much more power-hungry than its predecessor. Preliminary research with the first 5G-enabled iPhone, the iPhone 12, suggests that 5G will drain the battery 20 percent more rapidly than if the phone was left on 4G. That’s a big enough drop to reduce the iPhone’s value as an all-day working device.

The Apple solution

A new feature in the iPhone 12 has been designed to help with this issue. It’s called “Smart Data” mode, and basically, it means that when the iPhone detects that 5G isn’t necessary, it will automatically shift to a lower level of connectivity and, in doing so, preserve the iPhone’s battery.

Liam Bal, the CEO of SpinTel sheds light on this and says, “Smart Data Mode is a new feature that has been included in Apple’s latest iPhone. This feature will drop from 5G to 4G in certain scenarios. This gets the “thumbs up” from me because 5G can put more pressure on your battery life so why to use 5G in scenarios where its use does not increase user experience. For example, regular application or software updates are done in the background or when streaming music.”

Smart Data will kick in when the phone’s screen is off – if the phone is asleep, or receiving low-intensity data such as music or app updates, then the phone will switch to LTE connectivity. Once you wake the phone up again, the phone will turn 5G back on so you can capitalise on the fastest speeds available.

You can, of course, turn Smart Data off if you want to control when your phone uses 5G (or you’re not concerned with the additional power drain).

So, why does 5G drain more power?

5G and 4G wireless technologies are actually similar in most ways, including how phones and other devices interact with them. With that being the case, why does 5G result in a greater power drain? The answer is quite surprising: it’s because there aren’t many 5G towers around right now.

The extra power drain comes from when the phone has to switch between 5G and 4G connections. If you leave Smart Data mode off, this will happen a lot more than you realise, as you move into and out of areas that have 5G coverage. Smart Data helps to mitigate this by keeping the phone in a stable state, particularly if you’re currently travelling with it but not actively using it.

How do I know what I’m using?

We’re all used to using the little indicator on the top right of the iPhone to tell us what connection type we’re using. When it says “4G” it means we’re on a 4G connection, while we’ll be struggling with slow 3G where it says “3G.” With Smart Data, it’s a little different. The indicator will tell you what the best possible connection is, but it won’t necessarily be the one you’re using if the phone has decided that you don’t need 5G at that point in time. If you want absolute clarity on the type of connection you are using, then you will want to turn Smart Data off.

Can I save my battery in other ways?

There are, of course, other ways to preserve the phone’s battery. You can turn down the screen brightness, and make sure that you close any background applications as you use them. If you’re using the phone for Bluetooth or wireless application, then turning that off can extend the battery’s life as well. The iPhone 12 has a powerful battery, so even with 5G turned on you will be able to get close to all-day connectivity, even if you do rely on the 5G connection.

It will take a while for battery technology to catch up to the increasing demands for power from modern devices. The iPhone 12, as one of the first 5G devices from Apple, does offer a useful way to enjoy the benefits of 5G while we wait for battery power to increase in kind. That the Smart Data mode is highly versatile and customisable is an added benefit, as it allows you to make your own decision of whether you want to prioritise battery life or connectivity speed.