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In this paper, we propose a mechanism to switch between multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) with two transmit antennas and single-input multiple-output (SIMO) to conserve mobile terminals' energy. We focus on saving uplink RF transmission energy of mobile terminals in cellular systems supporting best effort traffic. The key idea is to judiciously slow down transmission rates when a base station is underutilized. We show that there exists a crossover point on the transmission rate below which SIMO consumes less power than MIMO when circuit power is included. The crossover point is an increasing function of the circuit power, the number of receive antennas and channel correlation, all of which increase the potential energy savings resulting from mode switching. We propose an adaptive mode switching algorithm combined with rate selection to maintain a user's target throughput while achieving energy efficiency. Extensive flow-level simulations under dynamic loads confirm that the proposed technique can reduce the transmission energy by more than 50% and enables an effective tradeoff between file transfer delay and energy conservation.