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This is possible on basically all mainstream computer operating systems, like macOS, Windows 10, Ubuntu. For example in macOS, I have these two settings (Set date and time automatically and Set time zone automatically using current location) separately. Similar settings exist in Windows 10 system settings, too.

However, on iPhone, there is only one option that handles both, or at least it seems like how it works, which is called "Set Automatically".

Basically, I want my time to be synced automatically so it is accurate as possible. At the same time, I want to be able to manually configure it to a time zone that is NOT on my current location. There might be a lot of situations where this is useful and it is possible on all computer/laptop operating systems.

If there is no solution to this due to iOS system settings limitation, is there any workaround? E.g. using some other way or even app to sync time automatically or on-need? One ugly workaround that might work is to manually toggle the above setting on and off again. iOS remembers the manual time zone setup when I do this, so it is not terribly complex. However, I still want to see if there is a more elegant way to achieve it, like in the computer systems.

PS: Turning location service off for "System Services / Setting Time Zone" does NOT work. The phone still gets local time zone when the above option is turned on. I do not know how it works -- maybe it gets time zone info from my carrier or using my IP address, etc.

macOS Settings: Set date and time automatically

macOS Settings: Set time zone automatically using current location

iOS Settings:

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  • I’m not really sure what you’re asking. You can manually set a time zone or have the time zone set automatically based on your location. In both situations the time will be accurate. Are you making an assumption that time is only accurate when a time zone is set automatically? What evidence/reasoning do you have for that?
    – JBallin
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 16:38
  • @JBallin You understanding of my question is correct. My reasoning is: If I turn off "Set Automatically", I can also manually change the time, e.g., the "Sep 25, 2020 9:28 AM" in my screenshot. If I change, because "Set Automatically" is off, the time does not go back accurate. Therefore, even if I do not change, eventually the device's clock could drift and become different from accurate time. I do not know yet how fast it drifts, but if it does not sync, it surely will do. The computer's clock does not tick precisely. It is the common practice to use sync to make the accurate.
    – bfrguci
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 17:15
  • Seems like your question is “If I set my time zone manually in iOS, will my time be less accurate than if the time zone is set automatically?”. That’s a difficult question for us to answer. I don’t see why it would be less accurate, but I don’t have evidence to back that up. Why don’t you try it and see if you have any issues?
    – JBallin
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 17:22
  • @JBallin Already doing this... Obviously I do not have another option at this moment. Let's wait and see :-)
    – bfrguci
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 1:26
  • @Jballin No issue so far. Seems accurate enough since there is no observable offset after a year. Downvoting is unnecessary though, since Apple did not make it clear that the time is still accurate even when "set automatically" is turned off. The concern is valid because electronics themselves are usually not accurate enough in terms of the clock. Most devices depend on Internet time synchronization to keep this accurate. I wonder what happens if I turn off "set automatically" then manually manipulate the time to something obviously wrong, is it still going to be able to keep it accurate?
    – bfrguci
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 16:52

2 Answers 2

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I have the workaround for that:

  • Go to Settings
  • Go to privacy
  • Go to location services
  • Scroll down
  • Go to system services
  • Find the option named as "setting time zone"
  • Toggle it off

Now when you will change time zone and then click set automatically, it will not change your time zone and time will sync


It works on my iPad but I am not sure about iPhone..

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  • I will try this and update here :-)
    – bfrguci
    Commented Nov 23, 2021 at 16:54
  • @bfrguci Does it worked or not? Commented Nov 25, 2021 at 2:29
  • 1
    No. It does not. Even after turning off location service for setting time zone, if I enable automatic time zone it still sets it to my local time zone. It also has a note that says "automatic time zone accuracy will be improved if location service is turned on". So basically it could automatically set time zone without location service. Tested on an iPhone with iOS 14.
    – bfrguci
    Commented Nov 26, 2021 at 3:36
  • In my iPad it works I use this to set time zone to Canada with automatic on and it works. I am adding screenshots if you want Commented Nov 27, 2021 at 1:56
  • Not sure how to at-mention a person here... but you may feel free to add screenshots. My assumption is that iPhone might use other approaches to sync time e.g. cellular network, when location service is turned off. This old mechanic can be dated back to the early days of the mobile network before Internet base time syncing was widely used. Does your iPad have cellular?
    – bfrguci
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 4:58
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This is not possible on iPhone and iOS. You can let it adjust time or you can manually set it. The automatic set comes from UTC and time zone must be applied by how the hardware and OS is engineered today.

Have you filed feedback with Apple to explain your use case? Maybe there’s some great reason to add this feature they didn’t consider.

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