CrackBerry Tip: Sometimes it is best to set your 3G BlackBerry Smartphone to 2G (EDGE) only

By Kevin Michaluk on 2 Aug 2011 08:35 pm EDT
Edge is Better!

One of the features of your 3G BlackBerry Smartphone that is easy to forget but can come in really handy given certain circumstances is the ability to change your Network Mode. When you go to Mobile Network Options, under Network Mode you have the options of 3G, 2G and 3G & 2G, with the 3G & 2G option being the one that is typically selected by default. This default option means that if 3G is available for the cellular network you're connected to you will default to 3G, but if the 3G signal gets too weak or you move out of 3G network range, you'll automatically drop to a 2G network (known as EDGE) which is more than likely to be present. Compared to 2G, 3G connections offer faster data speeds and simultaneous voice and data (on GSM), so most people prefer 3G to 2G when given the option. Thus, the default setting of 3G & 2G works pretty well for most people, most of the time. However, it can make sense to try changing up this option is if you find yourself in a location where all of a sudden your trusty BlackBerry seems to start working like crap even though you're clearly connected to 3G - it could be that your device would be better off dropping down to 2G but for whatever mystical reason it doesn't want to downshift. Allow me to illustrate with a real life example from this past weekend:

I spent the weekend getting some R&R at a buddy's cabin in a cottage/camping area called Spruce Sands, which is a 15 minute drive away from the town of Gimli on the west shore of Lake Winnipeg. Gimli recently got its network upgraded to offer 3G (yay...finally!). Back at my buddy's cabin, all of the devices present (a Bold 9780, Torch 9800, Bold 9700 and an iPhone 4) were clearly connected to Rogers and the 3G signal looked strong, displaying full bars. So based on appearances, it seemed like Gimli's new 3G network reached outside of town to the area where I was staying. I wasn't paying super close attention to my phone nor using it that much during the day (getting some R&R, remember?), but my Bold 9780 did seem a bit wonky. My battery was almost dead (despite barely using the phone), I had some undelivered BBMs, and it seemed to take everybody in the cabin a few tries to make voice calls. The service felt suspect, but since I was seeing full bars on 3G (and was having a good time drinking), I didn't think to do anything about it.

By mid-afternoon of day two after hearing others in the cabin complain about the same issues I noticed the day before, I finally decided to do something about it, and changed my Network Mode to 2G. Boom. Issues Fixed. By switching to EDGE only mode and ignoring 3G connectivity, every issue we experienced went away and our devices were back to running normal (with exceptional battery life I might add on EDGE). Apparently we were picking up the town's 3G tower still but were near the limit of its range, which meant we were ignoring the much closer towers that offered EDGE only. And that really horrible battery life was the result of the radios working excessively hard to try an maintain that 3G connection when we were clearly getting out or range.

Long Story Short: If you find your 3G data connectivity appears to be ok but all of a sudden you're experiencing poor battery life, undelivered BBMs, delayed SMS messages and calls dropping, try switching to 2G only. It might save you from a ton of aggrevation!

Reader comments

CrackBerry Tip: Sometimes it is best to set your 3G BlackBerry Smartphone to 2G (EDGE) only


I did this in Europe with my Bold 9650...but only to get much better battery life on EDGE..the 3G networks worked flawlessly and even quicker than my home carrier in the States (Sprint) lol.

absolutely right! here in melbourne, australia, even though my carrier (Optus) has already expanded its dual band 3G coverage but still in some areas i still experience some patchy 3G coverage, that's why i rely on the 2G only network mode for my 9780 for 95% of the time, unless there is only a 3G coverage in that area. for me, i don't really mind of a faster connection for my berry, what really matters to me is the exceptional battery life & the consistent data connection.

that also happens in my home country, Indonesia.

I love this site. I learn something new every day. In fact, this site is one of the reasons I haven't switched to the iPhone.

Same as me! Great community, always striving to help if they can. Unlike Apple, who told their customers who had dropped signal on their iPhone 4 models, "You're holding it wrong!" Very helpful indeed.

Vacation in San Francisco ... Calls back home to Canada would drop like crazy. I mean not even 5 minutes and it would disconnect. Rogers (AT&T) sucked ! So i changed to 2G and another close by network and it worked fine.

Am i the only one who thinks this is a lame article. People really find this new and fascinating info. It's been common knowledge for years. Does crackberry have an article quota? Is this how space is filled while RIM makes us wait a year too long for new phones?

Am i the only one who thinks this is a lame comment? ;)

Really though, we're constantly writing articles on this site for all levels of BlackBerry users, from newbie to expert. We don't have a "quota", but I always want to see a mix of posts on the homepage everyday -- news, reviews, tips, tricks, apps, accessories, humor, etc. -- that's how we ensure we have content covered in all areas... so if you scroll down 15 posts you'll probably find at least one (but hopefully more) that'll be of your liking. And for the ones that aren't, you just scroll down.

Is this new news? NO... obviously not.  However, I experienced a real life scenario this weekend that made me realize a lot of people MAY not realize they can even do this on their phone, so it served as a basis for a good tip. New to some, but not new to all. But I think there's still value in it.

Good point. That comment is from the frustration of waiting for solid info on the new devices (specifically the 9850/9860). That's all I want to see at this point, but that's my problem, not yours. I visit this site a few times a day (like 150) and it's great, don't get me wrong.

I also have the feeling that you're sitting on at least a couple of the OS 7 devices and can't say anything until RIM gives you the go-ahead, which makes some of the previous articles seem a little less genuine. Just my opinion. I'll put my BB on edge for a couple of hours now to punish myself for the previous comment.

Lol. No need to punish yourself! I get the frustration. The end of the wait is in sight :)

And for the record, I'm still using my Bold 9780. Have yet to have the pleasure of putting my SIM into a BlackBerry 7 device. 

It's not lame, it's informative. Some visitors to the site may be BB newbs, and thus cannot tap into the vast repository of knowledge you seem to have.

And sometimes an article like this reminds the rest of the knowledge they already knew, but never thought to use.


Did you really have to post this? Really? I mean even if this is how you feel, what does it accomplish to act like a jerk?

Give it a rest buddy. Not everyone who reads these articles is an old pro when it comes to all of their smartphones functions/features. If they were, they wouldn't need to read the crackberry in the first place. If you just wanna bitch about RIM then join an iphone forum. Nobody here wants to hear it.

Dude, I'm a blackberry die-hard. Didn't you read my follow-up posts? I think I apologized twice. I'm the last person to outright bash RIM, although I do think they should be held accountable for bad decisions.

You said what I was thinking and responded exactly how I would have given the circumstances.

I think what I thought was "lame" was how many people actually don't know about this. It's not even BlackBerry 101, it's like BlackBerry preschool. Nevermind getting into Hybrid OS' or carrier vsm files.

But my point is that I too feel you frustrations. I am using a Torch I got on day 1 that has been through every single OS upgrade there is, and last week I dropped it in the toilet. While it was healing I went back to my Bold 9000 (and man did I forget what a pain the memory leak issues were). So after my Torch was dried out and I got around several boot issues, I was working again - but touchscreen only. My keyboard is fubar.

So I am VERY anxiously awaiting the 9810/9860/9900. Every day i feel like I find out it's going to be longer and longer before I get one. This is torture!!!

I used that feature in Panamá and Honduras. The 9650 I was using had great battery life even in the most remote places.

This happened here in Kent, England at Bluewater. Me and my friend, both on Vodafone UK, were unable to send texts, make calls or even access the internet, despite showing 3G, BlackBerry symbol and full bars. Vodafone explained that their 3G towers around the surrounding area were having problems so we were told to drop down to 2G and indeed, it solved the issues!

Thanks Kevin. You are very right, Some of us are just "newcomers" to BB world and I find your approach to us extremely helpful and valuable. This is the reason why I have become a CB addict so fast! Thank you again. Right now I am in China and the signal here with China Mobile is always EDGE. Until now I did not know that "EDGE" meant 2G. I will switch to 2G setting right away.

Darn that's what I should have done last week which I spent at the cottage in Port Stanley on Lake Erie and Rogers signal is crap there. It showed 3G but no bars and my phone ran like crap. I had totally forgotten that the phone has a setting to choose your service level.

Confirmed. I vacation (and own a house) in a town (Provincetown, MA) that swells from 2,500-2,800 permanent people in the off-season to over 60,000 in the peak summer.

It appears like I have awesome 3G, but my battery dies in hours. From October to April, I have awesome service -- same as back in Boston, no issues. But the network simply can't handle the influx of people from May - September. AT&T probably knows this but it's not worth them investing, since it's a vacation town and everyone rents a week ...

Short of buying a MicroCell for my place, switching from 3G to 2G like the article says makes a ten times improvement. Just my own personal experience.

P.S. I love that Kevin comes and replies to posts. It shows his level of interest -- and thus how much CB is invested in all of us... it is part of the reason I remain a 'Berry user. Seriously.

That may very well solve my problems with my 9780 in Ottawa. For whatever reason, I have crap coverage in the west end. It will say I have 3G but it takes forever to connect to make a phone call at home. Maybe I'll see about using quicklaunch to configure my convenience key to do this as a quick change.

Thanks Kevin.

Hi, quicklaunch now has a 3G/2G toggle that you can add. If you're using OS 6.0 just enter 5,5 in the settings when you set it up. It works like a charm.

I'm a PIlot and I fly over 3G's as well as EDGE networks via Rogers.

I notice if I switch to a EDGE network at the beginning of the day, I'd have a good half battery decent use by the end of the day but if I forgot and leave it at 3G, the phone would be dead by the end of the day.

What I found out was if you leave it on 3G, it'd uses more power to search for a better 3G signal (which sometimes for me, doesn't exist cuz I'm really high), and it falls to EDGE after giving up. However, it seems like EDGE uses low power to transmit. It's slow but it is consistent and when you just want to have BBM up and emails, EDGE Is more than sufficient.

The same situation happens when I'm in Hong Kong, where 3G signal is quite weak due to the amount of buildings, and I find that it uses a lot of power to maintain a 3G signal. However, leaving it to EDGE would last me a day.

One last situation you'd use EDGE Is when you're roaming. You don't want to get bill-shock by clicking on the wrong icon and it transmit 100kb worth of data. EDGE puts a nice limit. I'd rather wait, than accidentally click something that I don't want, wasting valuable roaming data :3

It's nice to have a choice ;). When you are low power or you know you have a long day to go, put it to EDGE :)

Thanks Kev, I wouldn't have thought of this & looking back I know that there were some times that this has come up. My wife & I vacation in Tennessee & sometimes the cabins can be iffy for service, some of our family/friends phones work but mine would act up, I have a feeling this was the culprit.

I was gunna ask about that but I figure I'd read the comments first to see if it had been address already. Now I won't get a bunch angry hate reply's for being incompetent. :)

I'll be incompetent lol. But I kinda figured there wasn't any way to drop down on my Sprint berry from EVDO to the basic 1X. That is a real bummer as where I live the EVDO tower has been screwed up for at least a year and is very unreliable. After 4+ calls to Sprint, still not working right. My old Nextel 8350i blows the Sprint data speeds out of the water.

Yes, its that bad.

Of course not Blackberry's fault. Love my Style, love my plan, hate the network.

Anyone have any suggestions for me? Works great on every other tower in my area but the one that I'm around the most. Soooo frustrating.

Thank you for the heads up Kevin! Quick question (also posed to anyone else willing to answer): I have the Storm2 on Verizon so it's a world phone, though if I leave the settings as is (Network Technology -> "Global"), I don't see the option to choose between 2G and 3G. It's only when I switch the option to GSM/UMTS that the Network Mode option pops up, only my phone shows no service in this setting. Should I instead be using 1XEV, which I've noticed will pop up every now and again in the top right indicator row when I have poor 3G reception?

I use the feature everytime I go to wendover Nevada. It is on the boarder of Nevada and Utah on that's right on a time zone. However all the city is in mountian time. Since I have my phone to automaticly update time. It flicks my time back and forth. But I just switch to 2g cuz that's the tower i get the right time.

This is a nice reminder for all BlackBerry (and smartphone) users. Thanks for posting what seems like common knowledge to us techie folk. I often advise clients about using 2G and tempt them to "try it for 1 week and see what happens to your call quality".

I do this regularly. Mainly in highly congested areas when I just want to get a quick text/call out (ballgame, concert, etc) or when my battery's running low... helps a TON. Although I tried switching my Sprint friend's Curve to 2G once and saw it wasn't possible! Seems CDMA people are out of luck

Great tip for those of us MTS Allstream customers new to GSM. By the way Kevin, the service in the town of Gimli was also pretty bad on Saturday. I was on the beach Saturday and I was receiving BBMs from my wife but she wasn't receiving my replies. I was getting a lot of SOS service while on 3G and it took a few reboots and turning service on and off to get my Torch recognized. With the beach packed I wondered if it may be because the tower was overloaded? BTW, really enjoyed Gimli and my wife loves her new Playbook. Hope you had some good RnR. Cheers!

Thanks for that bit of info. I've been living in a high rise building for past 6 years and I've experienced the same scenario mentioned here. I had all sorts of problems maintaining a phone call in my apartment despite my phone indicating a full 3G signal. I noticed a significant improvement after switching my phone to operate in 2G mode only while at home. Doing this resolved the problem.

While this isn't groundbreaking news it still is helpful for those who may not know the availability of this option.

I guess since RIM is one of the last (if not the last) to make a 4G phone, this article is right in RIMs place. Going backwards.


#1: This tip applies to all smartphones, not just BlackBerries. Unless of course the phone/network doesn't allow you to choose between 2G and 3G service, but then that'd just be silly.

#2: The current iPhone 4 (both GSM and CDMA versions) nor the upcoming iPhone 5 support 4G, hence RIM is not the last to make a 4G phone. In fact, if the QNX-powered "superphone" is released anytime before probably June of next year, Apple will in fact be the last smartphone handheld maker to create a 4G-compatible phone. And I mean REAL 4G.

But then again, why am I wasting my breath? (I know I know, don't feed the trolls...) But glad to see that you at least know your 123's!

If I use my BB 9780 for tethering or bridging via PlayBook, I often set it to "3G only" - this ensures a stable 3G connection without fallback to 2G - and thats much faster, even though it sucks battery much quicker.
(got a mobile charger for my BB and PB (Sanyo) therefore that's no issue)

happy to have picked up a new tip. thanks :) i am hopeful that RIM manages to get the act together before what happened to Nokia happens to them . say , does anyone remember that company?

And people are demanding battery sucking 4g phones from RIM when even running 3g in lots of the country sucks...interesting spec chasing, if misguided. For sending emails/text/bbm 2g is fine, especially on a Blackberry.

For the Canucs out there, keep in mind that Belus (Bell/Telus) doesn't have 2G when it comes to GSM; they launched only HSPA/UMTS which is considered 3G, so this trick won't work if you're on their network. So for anyone on Virgin Mobile Canada, Koodo, Telus, Solo, Bell, or any of the other flancker brands, keep in mind that this option won't work for you as you'll go in "SOS" upon attempting to force it to 2G.

Sometimes if you get into some remote corner where you probably cannot find an electtricity socket to charge your BlackBerry, switch to 2G can save the battery and serve you for 1 more day.

This is deffinately a great tip for any Smartphone user, and I'm going to start using this tip on my Android handset, as my other handset a BB Curve 8520 is a 2g handset only.


Here in South Florida, I can't have a call on TMO 3G on a 9780 without the phone dropping back to GPRS. I keep my phone on 2G all the time except when tethering. Same issue with my friends' TMO BBs of various flavors. Glad a new 4G BB is coming - hopefully it will work!

am in the philippines and using 2G only. Battery lasts forever, even with lots of messaging(50+/day) and also lots of phonecalls and facebook.

If u dont really need to download a lot, or browse full pages, use 2G!

I've had the same problem that Kevin describes a few times with both my Torch and my Bold 9000. Sometimes when I have 3G & 2G mode on, calls don't come through properly, numerous failed calls, and/or data doesn't work well. Switching to 2G only seems to fix the problem, although it is a pain to lose the 3G speeds.

This problem is more prevalent in highly packed places like the Air Canada Centre in Toronto during hockey games, which I think is due to the overwhelming majority of corporate users there on my carrier (Rogers) in such a small area. 3G data is utterly useless there, but 2G seems to work better (not perfect, not great, not even good, but just better).

Thank you for your tip !
I used that for saving battery, i didn't know that it could solved such issue :)

Thanks again. I'll try it when i feel like my 3G cover is not right.

I live in France, Paris but i read your blog/site every day !

great, thanks for the post! I definitely have had some issues with dropped calls. in fact this morning on the way to work i had a dropped call. i looked at the phone and it seemed the 3g seemed to be cutting out. i am new to bb and forgot about this feature (on this phone or another one) so thanks. i will take a look at it tonight!! I hope i can jsut remember to change it back when I need some speedy interwebs

oh, how I wish how I wish that I had a 2G network to switch to... 3G+ only on my carrier, but I'm keeping this in mind for any of my Rogers buddies and world travellers that I know who occasionally run into problems... sometimes it's just nice to have the information in your back pocket for that one time you get to be a hero...

re: complaining about "old" knowledge; I for one simply don't have the mental capacity to remember everything about eveything all of the time... therefore, reminders are REALLY friggin great to have, which is why I love the CB format. Thanks for the post.

im using bb q10. i bought my phone here in gasim at jarir bookstore about 2-3 days and then i registered my bbm services. im using ZAIN simcard here in al majmaah riyadh saudi arabia. and then i realized my bbm has very poor reception. delayed messages. sometimes no signal but there is an EDGE. im using 2g. i used to ON and OFF the "airplane mode" for me to have signal. is it normal? i dont think so. because im using bb curve 8520. and the reception is very good. no problem at all. but when i switched to q10 it sucks. please help me. thanks.

Help me guys, I am using Blackberry 9320, and it has no option for '2G' only! There is '3G' AND '2G&3G' network options only! Is there any way that can be done to upgrade the network system, so that it should provide an option for 2G only network?!