iPhone 12 can act as 5GHz Wi-Fi hotspot, boon for 5G

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Apple's iPhone 12 series sports an upgraded hotspot mode that supports 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity, greatly expanding the handsets' utility amid a worldwide buildout of 5G cellular networks.

As noted by multiple reports on Twitter, including Zollotech's Aaron Zollo, iPhone 12 devices include the new Personal Hotspot ability that serves as an upgrade over previous iPhone models. Prior to iPhone 12, Apple's smartphone was able to connect to both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, but limited hotspot duties to the 2.4GHz band.

The capability is not spelled out in Apple's marketing materials, nor is the feature explained in iOS. Zollo, however, has confirmed a new "Maximize Compatibility" option manages switching between the two bands.

iPhone 12 Hotspot

"Internet performance may be reduced for devices connected to your hotspot when turned on," according to the feature's description.

While the disclaimer is vague, Zollo says the setting moves Personal Hotspot to the 2.4GHz band to enable compatibility with a wider array of devices. Switching the option off presumably locks iPhone 12 handsets into a 5GHz Wi-Fi mode for faster data transmission.

MacRumors spotted the tweet on Monday.

The addition should prove beneficial to users in areas where 5G cellular connectivity is rolling out. Currently, most locations with 5G are limited to sub-6GHz bands with speeds comparable to existing 4G LTE networks. Some urban locales, however, are getting a taste of speedy mmWave bands and will be able to take advantage of iPhone 12's faster hotspot.

Apple's iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max support mmWave, but only in the U.S. To enable access to the protocol, domestic iPhones integrate a special mmWave antenna window that resides in a cutout below the side button.