Does 3G Mobile Data Still Work with Voda on iPhone 12?

My wife and I both recently switched our Catch Connect and Boost mobile phone plans over to Voda prepaid. We both use iPhone 12s. So far so good.

Last week we spent some time on the Hume Highway and visited some relatives in the centre of Yass NSW. We both had a strong 3G signal, and phone calls/SMS continued to work, but neither of us had any cellular/internet connectivity. Our 3 kids with slightly older iPhones were connecting to Catch on 3G and had no data problems whatsoever.

I called Voda and the tech told me "iPhone 12 is too new for the 3G network, it only works on 4G and 5G". He had me toggle the Mobile Data settings from '5G Auto' back to '4G only' (there is no longer a 3G option) all to no avail. A senior tech called me back, told me to try resetting the network settings etc.. which I have not yet done and after all, the issue is evident on another device - my wife's.

Before I request a refund and go back to Boost, can anyone on Voda prepaid confirm that 3G cellular data still works on iPhone 12?

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  • +3

    As soon as I got a 5G compatible phone (iPhone 12 Pro Max), 3G never worked again for me and I'm with Telstra. Someone said its because 3G and 5G are on the same frequency or something? Not sure didn't really look into it as I know its switched off in a year or 2.

  • +2

    I've had the same issues on Amaysim (Optus network) - the phone O.S. will not allow you to choose from the menu system to use 3G; however, it swaps 3G occasionally when in a bad area.

    3G speeds compared to 4G are crap, so depending on what you were doing at the time, it may have been a data-hungry action, and it couldn't keep up.

    I usually throw it into the aeroplane mode for 30 seconds, and it recovers fine. I do live in an area that doesn't have excellent service.

    If anyone from Amaysim is reading this, if you could please get "wifi calling" sorted on the network, that would be 'amaysim'.

    I believe the function to keep it on 3G connections was in older IOS versions, but they were removed in the newer versions (plenty of forums and people report the same). You would have to do more poking around to figure out the version.

    I hope the above helps.

    • Thanks - yeah I tried going into AirPlane mode for a minute or so and after it picked up 3G I still could not so much as send an iMessage or even open Safari homepage without receiving the "Could not activate mobile data network" error. My iPhone is running OS 15.5 for what it's worth…

    • Optus are "moving/reallocating" some of their 3G network for 5G and as such you may want to investigate this.

  • +1

    Vodafone and Optus both use 900MHz 3g, this is supported by the iPhone 12:
    The 3g listing is called UMTS/HSDPA.

    Catch use the Optus network, Vodafone use their own. So there can be places where Optus has coverage and Vodafone doesn’t.

    I don’t know why your phone didn’t have data coverage, but the voice/SMS still worked. It is possible there is an issue with he Voda tower, I guess.

    If you are in another place now with 4G/5G coverage, there isn’t really any way to test 3g support, as I don’t think there is a ‘force 3g’ option.

    • There were other places along the highway, 100k away from Yass, where we both experienced the no data connectivity while still receiving a strong 3G signal, so unfortunately it wasn't isolated to Yass. Voda confirmed there were no issues there when I called…

  • We both had a strong 3G signal, and phone calls/SMS continued to work, but neither of us had any cellular/internet connectivity.

    That points to a setting issue - either setting on phone or the mobile tower.

    I know a person with IPhone 12 on voda prepaid who can get 3G. Just have not tried in Yass

    If boost works for you, go back to boost

    • If I had to guess, they have a network APN setup that is incompatible with the 3g service in some way.
      That would allow talk/text but no data.

      • Thats my initial guess too. However the settings are not there for voda prepaid with latest ios. It’s weird

  • -1

    I knew there was a good reason why I decided not to buy a 5G capable phone yet.

  • +1

    Could you have been Regionally Roaming onto Optus? Data in that scenario is pretty much non-existent these days.

    I can't speak for Yass, but I know that's the case around Tarago.

    • This could be it if data roaming setting is turned off

      • +1

        There's plenty of reports of no data flow when roaming onto Optus, even when data roaming is enabled on the phone.

        • I am sure I turned Data Roaming off - tried pretty much all setting options related to mobile data. Nothing helped.

          • @patmccrotch: If you were roaming onto Optus as I suspect, then data roaming would've needed to be on to have any hope of some data flow, but if the data flow has been turned off at the network level, no setting on your phone would overcome it. Do you recall seeing some sort of indication that you were indeed roaming, such as "Vodafone AU R"?

            Looking at the RFNSA web site, it would appear that Vodafone only has one tower anywhere near Yass; 2582014 on Mt Manton, with 3G900 and 4G850. The Vodafone coverage checker strikes me as optimistic.

            Short of going back to Boost, your only hope is that the agreement between Telstra and Vodafone gets up, but it's still a while off if it does.

    • My 3 kids were on Optus 3g (Catch Connect) and had no issues with data on their slightly older iPhones in Yass and on the highway.

  • Voda & it’s resellers are cheap but they have been prone to situations like that, even in Sydney CBD. I’m back with belong now after a run with felix, random data outages were driving me insane

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