What Does The “5G E” Icon Displaying On My iPhone Mean?

5ge connectivity for at&t customers

5GE connectivity for AT&T customers.

If you’ve updated to iOS 12.2 or later and you’re an AT&T customer you could notice a new cellular connectivity icon displaying in the top-right corner of the screen. The “5G E” symbol is a new controversial abbreviation that replaces the “LTE” icon for some AT&T iPhone owners. However, don’t get too excited because this is mostly a misleading branding.

Why? Because nor the iPhone or the cellular provider is supporting 5G connectivity at the time of writing. Even the most advanced flagships like the iPhone XS, or iPhone XS Max aren’t 5G compatible. According to AT&T, “5G E” is a better connectivity option as LTE. Nevertheless, real life tests have shown that there is no speed difference between the two options and the “5G E” is mainly a marketing scheme.

What is 5G?
5G or the 5th Generation is a digital cellular network that upgrades the 4G connectivity option. It’s obviously a faster way to download and upload data between wireless devices. Nevertheless, 5G networks require more antennas to cover a cell, thus are harder to implement. However, another bonus is that they can accommodate over a million devices over a square kilometer, while 4G is only able to handle 4000 devices in the same area.

What is 5G E?
According to AT&T this icon stands for “5G Evolution” and is a step forward towards the 5G network. The same cellular network claims theoretical wireless download speeds of up to 400 Mb/s on “5G E” compatible cells. However, this is doesn’t match 5G transfer speeds and is in fact the same performance as traditional LTE networks.
Fact: Notice how small the “E” is when compared to the rest of the “5G” icon? Those not looking carefully might be thinking that they’re on an actual 5G network.

Related: For more changes introduced by iOS 12.2 check here.