14 Replies Latest reply: Jan 3, 2012 4:58 AM by paulfromathens
scaredpoet Level 1 (5 points)

Well, I just discovered something rather annoying on the iPhone 4S.


This morning, AT&T 3G service in our area hit the wall in a very nasty way. First data services went out, and now, no audio during voice calls... but, phones are still showing full bars! So, AT&T's 3G cell sites are transmitting loud and proud, but they don't seem to be connected to anything functional. iMessage works but only through WiFi.


No problem, I think to myself, we'll just drop to EDGE and see if that's any better...


And then I tried to turn off 3G. It appears that you can't on the iPhone 4S.


My girlfriend discovered this leaving my house this morning on her way to work. She's still new to the area so she needed her GPS app on her iPhone to get directions... unfortunately, the app requires data. 3G data is down, so no dice.


She tries calling me, and my phone rings and we can see the call is connected, but we both get silence.


She freaks out but manages to pull into a McDonalds parking lot, which thankfully has free Wifi. So she was able to iMessage me her situtation and then establish facetime where audilo and video both worked, and use the WiFi to at least get the maps app to give her a route she can write down and be on her way.


And sure enough, I can't make any voice calls, to any number... they connect but, there's silence. Same with her phone. We can dial using the keypad INTO the call, and hear our touch tones bounce back, so we know that SOME level of audio is working and it's not our phones.  FaceTime also confirms this.


This is probably the first time in a long time that I've had a real gripe with AT&T. And I'd love to know if the old EDGE network in our area is similarly hosed this morning. Too bad I can't anymore!


Anyone know if there IS a way to shut off 3G and drop to EDGE on the 4S? Because I can't find it!


(Note: "Turn off cellular data" is not what I'm looking for. that turns off cellular data all right, but the phone stays on the 3G network, which doesn't solve my problem).

iPhone 4S, iOS 5.0.1, White 64GB on AT&T
  • o2_Team Level 1 (35 points)

    Hi scaredpoet,


    to make it short: No, you unfortunately really cannot turn off 3G. There is no way to do it on the phone.




  • scaredpoet Level 1 (5 points)

    This is highly unfortunate, particularly since it appears that pn the iPhone 4 running iOS 5 you still can turn off 3G. Apple needs to fix this.  There are still some isntaces where EDGE and the ability to switch to it is still highly useful.

  • Meg St._Clair Level 8 (49,010 points)

    From what I understand, it's the result of a different chipset between the iPhone 4 and the 4S. My understanding is that the new Qualcomm CDMA/GSM chip doesn't allow such switching. The phone should still switch to EDGE when there is no 3G available.

  • randy48 Level 1 (0 points)

    Correct me if I'm wrong:

    I have a feeling that Apple removed this feature for the iphone 4S because of the people that unlocked iphone 4S, because without this featrure, there is no way they can activate MMS (APN) and Internet settings for the iphone 4S manually. I think they eliminate this feature on the update 5.0.1 (latest firmware)

    Just saying...

  • transmogrification Level 1 (5 points)

    The feature was never available for the CDMA iPhone 4. CDMA technology doesn't really allow for the feature. It is different than GSM. The iPhone 4S never had the toggle either.

  • Tim in Alabama Level 1 (0 points)

    This is stupid. We all got new iPhones at work BECAUSE I LIVE IN THE CITY MY FIRMWARE FIXED PHONE WON'T LAST MORE THAN 8 HOURS BEFORE IT DIES because 3G never turns off for me. That's with ZERO CALLS and a single push for EMAIL ONLY once every hour everything else completely turned off and the screen brightness all the way down. EVERYBODY ELSE LIVES OUTSIDE OF TOWN SO THEIR PHONES WILL LAST ALL WEEKEND WITHOUT A CHARGE AND PLENTY OF CALLS because their phones switch to 2G!


    IF I TURN ON WIFI AND PUSH ALL WITH NOTIFY AND ACTUALLY USE THE PHONE FOR CALLS THEN THE BATTERY DIES FASTER THAN THE CHARGER CAN CHARGE UP THE PHONE!!! RIDICULOUS!!! Even turning on airplane mode and dimming the screen won't turn off the antenna because even then it still won't last longer than 24 hours. (Once again I must stress I have upgraded firmware for the battery fix and my phone is new right out of the box.)



  • tjmartin2020 Level 1 (0 points)



         Please pay attention to this issue. There are many of us who live or travel in areas where the 3G coverage is not good. Unfortunatley it is not bad enough to automatically switch to edge. Therefore we are stuck with a phone that cannot connect via weak 3G and we cannot disable it. PLEASE find a WAY to restore the DISABLE 3G feature back

  • tjmartin2020 Level 1 (0 points)



         Please pay attention to this issue. There are many of us who live or travel in areas where the 3G coverage is not good. Unfortunatley it is not bad enough to automatically switch to edge. Therefore we are stuck with a phone that cannot connect via weak 3G and we cannot disable it. PLEASE find a WAY to restore the DISABLE 3G feature back

  • GPT70 Level 1 (0 points)


    I'm working in a Telco and I faced similar issues on the very first UMTS phones with qualcomm chipset (U8150 LG model). It is true that Qualcomm does not (at least at that time) vive the primitive to manage the 3G switch, but with some low level OS vs Chipset IO tricks is possibile to obtain a very similar behaviour.

    It gives the developers some headhache and requires strong interaction with the Chipset manifacturer, never the less at least in Europe is STRONGLY required whatever operators says. A lot of areas Are covered with partial 3G quality, and with a given display/feature Phone like 4S there Are no chanches to have decent battery duration without cutting off the 3G. 2-3G bouncing and 3G low data performance cannot be solved in that areas (too expensive for operators and with EDGE there is now compliancy with minimum regulatory requirements). 4S will be a real problem if you will not fix this. I personally have 2 friends that preferred to go back to 4 from 4S for this very issue. Eventuali with latest 5.1 and low screen lighting no way to get to end of daywork. No probs with 4 (3G disabled of course). I' m dure you understand this is unacceptable...



  • jim122 Level 1 (0 points)

    I received my iPhone 4S for Christmas, and after the first 5 minutes playing with it, I opened up the Settings app to dig around for the button to toggle off 3G data. To my sad surprise, I have discovered what you already know; the feature to disable 3G (and thus greatly enhance battery life) is not available on the 4S.


    I actually wanted a Samsung Galaxy Nexus for Christmas, but I clearly stipulated beforehand if that was too expensive then I'd be very happy with a 4S. I was wrong.


    The way I see it, us 4S users have 2 options:

    1) Donate to and Support the JaiIbreak community, or

    2) Swith to the latest Android ICS phone you can afford


    Two of my friends have already called to rave about their new Galaxy Nexus phones. Thanks Apple for this wonderful Christmas blow to the groin. I'll keep the 4S, but only to save my relationship...

  • scaredpoet Level 1 (5 points)

    Just to revisit this issue: just this evening I encountered a situation where my iPhone 4S was rendered useless due to being in an area where AT&T's 3G signal was unusable, but EDGE was... to users of other phones, anyway.  Unfortunately, while iPhone 4 and previous-gen iPhone users could easily take advantage of the EDGE signal by manually switching to it, I could not.  For an hour, my phone alternated between "searching," "No Service," and "AT&T" but with no bars and no data indicator.  I could not place or receive voice calls or texts in this state, either.  Meanwhile, my significant other was able to place and receive calls, and use data, merely by toggling the "Enable 3G" switch on her iPhone 4 to "off."  I observed other smartphone users doing the same with similar success, provided they didn't happen to have a 4S of course.


    I was stuck in that location for an additional two hours past this, so I made logical use of the only remaining toggle I COULD still control: the power.  I shut the phone off.  Better to have it be a paperweight that's turned off than a paperweight eating battery life while it relentlessly searches for a 3G signal that wasn't there, totally ingoring the perfectly good EDGE signal that every other AT&T subscriber in this location could make use of.


    As far as I'm concerned, Apple may as well not even advertise the EDGE capabilities of this phone.  In the real world, the 4S appears to act as if it doesn't even have an EDGE radio.  Perhaps Apple prefers this emphasis on 3G.  That's fine and good, but they should then either de-emphasize the EDGE specs, or drop EDGE from the specs completely, so that buyers are duly warned they can't count on it.


    I'm fortunate enough to be in a 3G area that's halfway decent, 99% of the time.  But I could see myself getting easily frustrated with the effective crippling of this phone if I were less fortunate.  Apple NEEDS to fix this problem and bring the enable/disable 3G toggle to the iPhone 4S, one way or another. 


    While I wouldn't stoop down to the level of advocating a switch to Android, or jailbreaking, it's still quite embarrassing to acquire the latest model iPhone - the one where "Antennagate" is supposedly fixed once and for all - only to have it perform worse in marginal 3G signal areas due to a softare configuration that insists on using 3G at all costs.

  • john choueiri Level 1 (40 points)

    thanks for the original poster for raising this issue, because am really concerened if Apple would not add the 3G toggle to the 4s, or else i would have downgraded rather upgraded to 4s. am in an area where 3G is just being introduced to the market, and so its unreliable, and half of the time i end up with no service, where as the iPhone 4 would have full bars because its on EDGE. please send your feedback to Apple www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html, so that whoever there might raise this issue, otherwise the 4s might be a useless phone if not. thanks

  • laurentiufrompitesti Level 1 (0 points)

    Many users of these forum, have told us to leave Apple and choose another smartphones because Apple will never fix this. They will never pleace back the button for 3G on/off.


    Someone tells that  the chip is not supporting this future, but as long as the chip can do the switch between 3G and 2G automatically, I'm sure it can do this and manual.


    I hope Apple will think about this major problem for to many usesr of iPhone 4S and they will solve it!


    Please Apple solve this problem!!!

  • paulfromathens Level 2 (355 points)

    This is now a Carrier controlled, just like the hotspot capability.


    You can side step this by manually creating a profile with iphone configuration utiility, but there is no way of knowing if your carrier would wipe these out when you connect to the network.

    Maybe worth a try.