iPhone users on AT&T are starting to see a new '5G E' symbol instead of 4G LTE. Here's what it means.

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  • AT&T customers with an iPhone 8 or newer will now see a new “5G E” symbol replace the “LTE” symbol on top-right corner of their phone screen.
  • AT&T’s 5G E network is not true 5G. It’s AT&T’s LTE Advanced Pro network.
  • Other carriers also have LTE Advanced Pro networks, but haven’t renamed them to anything resembling 5G.
  • AT&T has been widely criticised for renaming their LTE Advanced Pro to 5G E, which recently scored slightly slower speeds on average than 4G LTE networks from Verizon and T-Mobile.

Owners of the iPhone 8 or newer on AT&T will see a new “5G E” symbol on the top-right corner of their phones after updating to the latest version of iOS that rolled out Monday.

The 5G E symbol replaces the “LTE” symbol that used to be there.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that AT&T customers who are using the iPhone 8 or newer are on AT&T’s true 5G network – supposed to be significantly faster than the current LTE networks we’ve been using for data on our smartphones – despite the fact that the symbol contains the term “5G.”

https://twitter.com/stevekovach/status/1110279042064879618?ref_src=twsrc^tfw

AT&T’s 5G E network stands for 5G Evolution, and it’s just a rebranded version of AT&T’s LTE Advanced Pro network that AT&T customers were using before the iOS update.

AT&T chose to rename its LTE Advanced Pro network to 5G E because LTE Advanced Pro is said to be a stepping stone towards 5G. Indeed, LTE Advanced Pro uses some of the methods and technologies that will be used when 5G fully rolls out, but true 5G operates on different frequencies. In a sentence, LTE Advanced Pro – otherwise known as 5G E – is not true 5G.

Other carriers also have their own LTE Advanced Pro networks, but they didn’t rename it to anything that could suggest 5G.

In fact, there are no phones that you can buy at the moment that can connect to a true 5G network. Some have been announced, but you can’t buy them yet.

AT&T’s 5G E network also delivers about the same speeds – actually a tad slower – as Verizon and T-Mobile’s 4G LTE Advanced networks, according to a report by networking research company Open Signal.

AT&T has been criticised for the 5G E nomenclature of its LTE Advanced Pro network from tech media and carriers. The company has even been sued by Sprint, who accused AT&T of potentially misleading its customers into thinking they were getting 5G before customers on other carriers.

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