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5G: How is your iPhone experience with next-gen networking so far?

While Apple entered the 5G phone market after Samsung, the iPhone 12 line has been a major splash for 5G adoption. Competition between US carriers to win over iPhone customers with the best 5G experience is real, so we’re curious how the next generation of wireless service has been so far for readers.

Carrier differences

I spent the first six months of using a 5G iPhone with both AT&T and Verizon while living in Orlando, Florida. AT&T has been my carrier since the iPhone 4, and its 5G service was all over the city. I added Verizon to the mix for comparison and testing because it deployed faster ultra-wideband 5G at select venues around Orlando and the surrounding area.

Standard AT&T 5G was more broadly available for me than standard Verizon 5G, and 5G speed tests generally favored the former carrier over the latter. Think triple-digit download speeds versus double-digit numbers.

Verizon’s ultra-fast 5G UWB service, however, unlocked unreal speeds that rivaled the best home wifi service. Download speeds that instantly climbed beyond 1,000 Mbps are astonishing, even if you aren’t sure what to do with that performance. Who doesn’t like faster download speeds?

Faster 5G

Faster ultra-wideband 5G doesn’t have the same range as standard 5G. Think more like a bunch of home wifi routers around a large venue compared to giant cell towers with miles of coverage. This flavor of 5G is made for eliminating dead zones and over-saturation in large venues like airports and sports stadiums.

While in Orlando, Verizon’s 5G UWB service was also right across the street from my apartment building in Lake Nona (which also houses Verizon’s 5G Innovation Hub for the region).

The incredibly fast 5G service spanned a popular venue with several restaurants, outdoor music performances, and recreational activities for both kids and adults. Admittedly, I never found a real use for that super-fast download speed on my iPhone beyond using it as an impressive hotspot for providing my Mac with an internet connection. However, consistently quick network speeds should hold up to wider 5G phone adoption in the years to come that will bring more simultaneous usage.

Out of the city

As impressed as I was with Verizon 5G UWB at my go-to eat and drink spot, I found that for me, AT&T 5G around Orlando was more prevalent enough than Verizon 5G that I stuck with my long-time carrier and ended the experiment.

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I completely forgot that AT&T’s version of faster 5G, aptly named 5G+, is in development and even live in select locations across the country. I’m looking forward to testing AT&T 5G+ for the first time this weekend in New Orleans at the stadium where the Saints play if the service reaches the outer vicinity.

I moved from Orlando to my hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi, in the spring, so my 5G experience has changed. I’m now wedged between two cities with AT&T 5G, but LTE is still the fastest network where I actually live. This has me interested in how long it takes the carrier’s 5G service to reach everywhere that LTE is provided today.

Still, I’m impressed that AT&T 5G service is broadly available in more rural areas around where I live. Seeing 5G service along the route between cities is reassuring when you’re away from wifi.

Practical differences

As an aside, there is one very practical difference with 5G that affects my iPhone. There’s a place near me with shops and restaurants where AT&T LTE slows to a crawl. This is presumably from network saturation because dropping to 3G effectively brings you back online. Except 5G iPhones no longer let you drop to 3G from LTE because LTE is considered the drop from 5G.

The good news is another shopping center where AT&T LTE slows to a crawl now offers AT&T 5G. Using the 5G network has the same effect as dropping to the less used 3G network — only the download speeds match modern rates. This has me hopeful for the future when AT&T 5G is deployed across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

5G future

Speaking of the future, it already feels like we’re living in it with the iPad Pro with 5G. Those faster speeds are really useful on a larger screen where my work expands, and I’m more likely to use Group FaceTime, stream 4K videos, and download large files.

I’m generally satisfied with where we are with 5G during year one on the iPhone. Rumored support in the next iPhone SE will make access to 5G more affordable than ever, and more deployment of 5G+/UWB will continue to surprise and delight.

How is your experience with 5G so far? Share your thoughts below in the comments, and we’ll revisit 5G progress next summer to compare.

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5g-phone-6037

As the fall phone season continues, 5G is expected to play a major role for carriers and device-makers looking to get people to upgrade. With low-band 5G service now deployed nationwide by T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon, 2020 marks the first time all three carriers will have next-generation networks widely available. But getting onto 5G requires more than just a compatible phone. For some carriers, you also need to have the right plan. Before you upgrade to a new iPhone 12, announced at last month's Apple event, or a 5G Android phone, here's what you need to know for getting 5G on each of the three major US carriers.

Read more: The best phone to buy for 2020

The flavors of 5G

With 5G, there are three big flavors of wireless airwaves to know about: low-band, midband and millimeter-wave. 

Low-band 5G offers the best coverage and provides the foundation for 5G, though speeds are often not much better than a good 4G LTE signal. 

Millimeter-wave is a higher-frequency version of 5G, offering speeds that can easily top 1 gigabit per second. The problem with millimeter-wave, however, is range. It is often only available on particular blocks of certain cities, doesn't work indoors and can be impeded by leaves, glass and even a hand between your phone and the transmitter. 

Midband is, as its name implies, the middle ground between the two. It offers much faster speed than low-band while offering much better coverage than millimeter-wave, including the ability to work indoors. 

This is largely available only on T-Mobile right now, thanks to its Sprint merger. AT&T and Verizon are expected to add midband 5G in the future, with both anticipated to be active bidders in a Federal Communications Commission auction for more of this valuable spectrum later this year. 

Read more:How to pick the right 5G carrier for you

AT&T

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To tap into 5G on AT&T you'll need to make sure you're on one of the carrier's latest unlimited plans known as Unlimited Starter, Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite. All include unlimited talk, text and data in the US, Mexico and Canada. 

The carrier recently added the ability to mix and match unlimited plans on a family plan, allowing you to adjust the service for what each member of your family needs. To keep our pricing simple, we're going to look at the cost as if each were the same plan. 

For four lines, pricing for Starter begins at $140 a month ($35 a line) but this doesn't include any mobile hotspot and data can be slowed when the network is congested.

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The next step up, Extra, is $160 a month ($40 a line). This plan includes 50GB of high-speed data per line per month before it would be slowed and adds 15GB of high-speed data per line for using your phone as a mobile hotspot. (After 15GB speeds drop to a painfully slow, 2G-like 128 kilobits per second.)

The top plan, Elite, runs $200 a month for four lines ($50 a line). It offers free HBO Max, allows for streaming videos in HD, 100GB of data before you'd be slowed and 30GB of high-speed mobile hotspot data for each line (after which it's slowed at that 2G level). 

Discover the latest news and best reviews in smartphones and carriers from CNET's mobile experts.

AT&T's plans allow for accessing its low-band 5G network that is available nationwide as well as its faster, higher frequency millimeter-wave network (what it calls "5G Plus") that's currently available in parts of 36 cities around the country. Its low-band network currently covers over 205 million people. 

If you have an older plan, even one that is unlimited, you'll be limited to 4G LTE even if you have a 5G device. Oh, and because things are never simple, AT&T calls its 4G LTE network "5G E." Don't be confused: If you see 5G E know that it's not real 5G. 

AT&T 5G

Plan 5G included? Price (1 line) Price (4 lines) Hotspot Perks
Unlimited Starter Yes $65 $140 N/A Unlimited in Mexico and Canada
Unlimited Extra Yes $75 $160 15GB per month, per line 50GB of high-speed data per line, unlimited in Mexico and Canada
Unlimited Elite Yes $85 $200 30GB per month, per line 100GB of high-speed data per line, free HBO Max, unlimited in Mexico and Canada

T-Mobile

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When it comes to 5G, T-Mobile's story is much simpler. Any plan, including those of Sprint users, will be able to connect to 5G if you have a 5G device. This also includes both unlimited plans and older ones that have monthly data allotments. 

Of T-Mobile's current plans, the cheapest Essentials plan runs $120 a month for four lines ($30 a month). You get unlimited talk, text, data but mobile hotspot is capped at "max 3G speeds" (which has in the past meant a still-weak 512Kbps). 

Unlike some other T-Mobile plans, taxes and fees aren't included here and you also don't get perks like free Netflix, international data outside of Mexico and Canada or HD streaming.

There are two step-up plans as well, known as Magenta and Magenta Plus. The former, which currently runs $140 a month for four lines ($35 a line) includes taxes and fees in the monthly price, 3GB of 4G LTE hotspot data for each line, a free subscription to Netflix Basic (Netflix's cheapest plan that doesn't stream videos in HD) or Quibi, as well as international data in over 210 countries. 

T-Mobile's top-of-the-range Magenta Plus plan runs $172 a month for four lines ($43 a line) with taxes and fees already factored into the price. Other perks include Netflix's Standard plan that has HD streaming or free Quibi, 20GB of 4G LTE hotspot data per line, and slightly faster international data. It also allows you to stream videos in HD over a cellular connection. 

When it comes to the next-generation networks, T-Mobile is actually the furthest along in the US. It was the first to a nationwide 5G network over the low-band spectrum last December, which it recently expanded to now cover 250 million people. 

After acquiring Sprint's 2.5GHz midband spectrum when it closed its merger this year, the carrier has begun deploying midband 5G across the country, with plans to have thousands of sites upgraded this year.

The carrier also has millimeter-wave 5G, though it has yet to expand this flavor beyond the six cities it launched in 2019. 

T-Mobile 5G

Plan 5G included? Price (1 line) Price (4 lines) Hotspot Perks
Essentials  Yes $60 $120 Unlimited at "3G speeds" Talk, text and 2G data in Canada and Mexico; unlimited texting overseas
Magenta Yes $70 $140 3GB of high-speed data per month, per line, then unlimited at "max 3G speeds" Taxes and fees included; free Netflix Basic or Quibi subscription (two lines minimum); international talk, text and data included; 5GB of high-speed data in Mexico and Canada
Magenta Plus Yes $85 $172 20GB of high-speed data per month, per line then unlimited at "max 3G speeds" Taxes and fees included; free Netflix Standard or Quibi subscription (two lines minimum); international talk, text and data included with data twice as fast as Magenta; HD streaming over cellular; 5GB of high-speed data in Mexico and Canada

Verizon

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Whereas AT&T limits 5G just to its newest unlimited plans and T-Mobile lets any plan tap into 5G, Verizon is somewhere in the middle ground when it comes to plans. 

The company's new nationwide network, which it launched on Tuesday during Apple's iPhone 12 event, will be available to everyone. This includes older unlimited plans and those with monthly data allotments. 

Those who want the full Verizon 5G experience with millimeter-wave, however, will need to have one of the carrier's top unlimited plans known as Do More, Get More or Play More. 

The good news is that Verizon allows you to choose which plan each individual line is on (what it calls "Mix and Match") as opposed to mandating that everyone be on the same plan. For the purposes of keeping the pricing simple, we're going to look at the cost as if each line is the same plan. 

The Start plan offers four lines for $140. While it has low-band 5G, it lacks access to the millimeter-wave network. It also does not offer any mobile hotspot and data in Canada and Mexico is capped at "2G speeds."

The step-up Play More plan would run $180 for four lines. This plan includes both flavors of Verizon 5G as well as: 50GB of high-speed 4G LTE data; 15GB for each line of 4G LTE data for mobile hotspot, HD streaming over a cellular connection and a free subscription to the Disney Bundle that includes Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu. 

The plan also includes unlimited talk, text and data in Canada and Mexico, though data here is all capped at "2G speeds." 

The Do More plan is priced at the same $180 for four lines, with the big difference being the dropping of the Disney Bundle for a discount of 50% the monthly service charge for a connected hotspot, tablet or smartwatch. 

The Get More is a combination of both Play More and Do More, with four lines running $220 a month. It offers all the perks of both plans -- including the discount on a connected device and the Disney Bundle -- but bumps up the 4G LTE hotspot data to 30GB a month, per line. It also offers a free subscription to Apple Music. 

The carrier's older, top unlimited plans -- known as Above Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited -- also include access to both the low-band 5G and millimeter-wave 5G networks. 

Verizon 5G

Plan 5G included? Price (1 line) Price (4 lines) Hotspot Perks
Start Unlimited Yes, but just low-band $70 $140 N/A Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada
Play More Unlimited Yes $80 $180 15GB of high-speed data per line, per month then unlimited at slower speeds Access to faster millimeter-wave 5G network; 50GB data per line, per month of high-speed, 4G LTE data; HD video streaming; Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada; Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus included
Do More Unlimited Yes $80 $180 15GB of high-speed, 4G LTE data per line, per month then unlimited at slower speeds Access to faster millimeter-wave 5G network; 50GB data per line, per month of high-speed, 4G LTE data; HD video streaming; Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada; 50% off the monthly service fee for a connected smartwatch, tablet or hotspot
Get More Unlimited Yes $90 $220 30GB of high-speed data per line, per month then unlimited at slower speeds Access to faster millimeter-wave 5G network; 50GB per line, per month of high-speed, 4G LTE data; HD video streaming; Talk, text and data at 2G speeds in Mexico and Canada; 50% off monthly service fee for connected tablet, hotspot or smartwatch; free subscription to Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus; free subscription to Apple Music
Sours: https://www.cnet.com/tech/mobile/5g-plans-major-carriers-compared-iphone-12-t-mobile-verizon-att/
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Signal & Cellular Data

In this tutorial you will learn how to:

• Check network connection strength
• Change cellular network settings
• Turn data roaming on or off
• Turn Wi-Fi Assist on or off
• Quickly turn mobile data on or off

Check network connection strength

The network signal strength is displayed in the Status bar. The more bars, the better the connection. If iPhone is connected to the Internet via the cellular data network, the 5G5G E, LTE, 4G, 3G, E, or GPRS icon appears in the Status bar.

Note: View the AT&T Wireless Network coverage map. 5G E, LTE, 4G, and 3G service on GSM cellular networks support simultaneous voice and data communications. For all other cellular connections, you can’t use Internet services while you’re talking on the phone unless iPhone also has a Wi-Fi connection to the Internet. Depending on your network connection, you may not be able to receive calls while iPhone transfers data over the cellular network when downloading a webpage, for example. Learn more about the AT&T network.

Image 1




Change cellular network settings

1. From the home screen, select the settings appSettings app.

2. Select Cellular. To turn cellular data on or off, select the on switchCellular Data switch.

Note: To turn LTE data on or off select Cellular Data Options > Enable LTE > desired option. Learn more from the Apple support article About cellular data settings and usage on your iPhone.

Image 2

3. To turn cellular data on or off for individual apps and services, scroll to and select the switch next to the desired app or service. 

Image 3




Turn data roaming on or off

From the Cellular screen, select Cellular Data Options. Select the off switchData Roaming switch to turn roaming on or off.

Note: Data roaming is off by default. Turning on Data roaming will allow the device to attach to foreign wireless network signals when available. International roaming charges will apply. This setting does not apply to voice access, which requires additional provisioning for usage on international networks. To learn more, visit the AT&T International website.

Image 4




Turn Wi-Fi Assist on or off

From the Cellular screen, scroll to the bottom of the page then select the on switchWi-Fi Assist switch.

Note: Wi-Fi Assist regularly checks the Wi-Fi connection to determine signal strength. If the Wi-Fi signal strength drops below a specific range, Wi-Fi Assist will automatically switch the session to cellular data until the Wi-Fi signal improves. Wi-Fi Assist is an optional setting that is turned on by default and can be turned off at any time. Data rates apply for cellular connections. Learn more from the Apple support article About Wi-Fi Assist.




Quickly turn mobile data on or off

Swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen to access the Control Center, then select the Cellular data icon.

Image 5

Sours: https://www.att.com/device-support/article/wireless/KM1358540/Apple/A2172
iPhone 12 5G Speed Test: Verizon vs T-Mobile vs AT\u0026T!

AT&T 5G network rollout: Locations, phones, price and more

The AT&T 5G network has grown in the past year, with testing firms hailing its speeds. But with rivals T-Mobile and Verizon both making splashy 5G moves at the start of 2021, the question is whether AT&T can keep up as the year goes on.

For now, AT&T's focus appears to be on continuing the progress it made throughout 2020 — efforts that included launching a nationwide 5G service to augment its high-speed deployments in three dozen cities and adding more 5G devices to its phone lineup.

While AT&T's 5G network currently reaches more than 230 million people in 14,000 cities and towns across the U.S., it still trails T-Mobile, which covers 287 million people with its 5G setup. Verizon also covers 230 million people, even though its nationwide network launched after AT&T's.

In other words, AT&T still has a long way to go in building out 5G coverage. Here's where the network stands as we approach the halfway mark of 2021.

AT&T 5G bands

First off, it’s critical to explain how AT&T splits its 5G service up. There’s the nationwide sub-6GHz service mentioned above, which offers speeds about as fast, if not slightly better than 4G LTE. In spite of AT&T’s “nationwide” banner, this isn’t available everywhere yet, though it’s much more common to find than AT&T’s 5G Plus network, which involves a completely different kind of technology.

5G Plus is AT&T’s name for its millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G infrastructure. When you hear carriers advertise data speeds in excess of 1 Gbps or downloading entire movies or seasons of TV shows in a minute, this is the kind of 5G they’re referring to. But while millimeter-wave 5G offers exponentially faster speeds than sub-6GHz 5G or 4G LTE, it is exponentially more limited in terms of range, which is why it’s only available in cities or high-traffic indoor spaces.

AT&T 5G cities and coverage map

AT&T’s 5G Plus can only be found in 38 cities in 19 states at the time of this writing. (A 20th state — Colorado — boasts an AT&T 5G Plus installment in its sports arena.) California has the most 5G Plus-supported cities by far, claiming nine of the total 38. You can find a comprehensive list on AT&T’s website. 

AT&T is also focusing on getting 5G Plus into arenas, stadiums and convention centers. It currently reaches 20 of those venues, with plans to reach 35 or so by year's end.

AT&T’s long-range 5G service now reaches 230 million Americans, according to the latest figures from the carrier. That's short of what T-Mobile's 5G covers, though both networks are actively growing all the time.

AT&T 5G speeds

AT&T’s 5G infrastructure has made significant strides over the past two years. Initially, the carrier’s 5G Plus service topped out at 400 Mbps. In February 2019, AT&T reported that had improved to a peak throughput of 2 Gbps on its commercial network in Atlanta. That is fast enough to download a 2-hour HD film in 10 seconds.

Unfortunately, we didn’t quite see that kind of performance when we conducted hands-on testing of AT&T’s 5G Plus service in Las Vegas in the summer of 2019. At that time, we recorded peak speeds just shy of 1 Gbps — far better than LTE, of course, but a good sight off the 1.5 Gbps average speed claims the carrier had made at the time. Additionally, it was very difficult to track down a signal in our experience, owing to 5G Plus’ limited range.

AT&T’s standard 5G service, built on sub-6GHz infrastructure, is far easier to locate, in exchange for speeds a fraction as fast. As a point of comparison, T-Mobile's 5G network is built on the same low-band spectrum AT&T uses for its nationwide network (that is, not 5G Plus), and the speeds we've seen there are at best only slightly faster than what we get from LTE.

To be fair, speeds have improved since our initial testing, and AT&T can point to some good recent results from third party network testing. Ookla declared AT&T 5G to be the fastest of the major carriers as of the end of last year, overtaking previous speed champ Verizon. (That may have been the result of Verizon launching its nationwide network and seeing those slower speeds drop its average from the lofty heights achieved by millimeter wave-based 5G.) A report from RootMetrics gives AT&T the nod for the fastest 5G speeds, and while Opensignal thinks T-Mobile has the faster 5G, it noted that AT&T's 5G footprint had grown considerably through the latter half of 2020.

AT&T 5G phones and devices

Most new 2020 flagship phones supported AT&T’s 5G network, though the type of 5G they work with differed on a case-by-case basis. Some handsets, like last year's Samsung Galaxy S20, only offered sub-6GHz connectivity and skip out on millimeter-wave signals. Other phones, like the Galaxy S20 Plus and Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, supported both 5G configurations, for the fastest possible speeds in any condition.

You may have noticed a theme there. Indeed, the vast majority of 5G handsets available last year through AT&T were Samsung devices. But that finally changed with October's iPhone 12 launch.

All four iPhone 12 models work on the full range of AT&T's 5G deployment, across sub-6GHz and mmWave. They are even said to support a new type of 5G infrastructure called C-band, which will provide AT&T users with the sort of mid-band service that offers higher speeds than LTE with a slight hit to coverage, like T-Mobile currently has. 

Currently, AT&T offers a pretty compelling range of 5G phones at various price points. Here's an updated list of what's available through AT&T:

AT&T 5G hotspots

AT&T's first 5G-compatible product was actually the Netgear Nighthawk, a hotspot that could pull in a 5G signal and blast it to your supported devices over Wi-Fi. This device was ultimately discontinued, but now AT&T has replaced that with a successor, called the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot Pro. You'll find it among the best mobile hotspots currently available.

The new Nighthawk model, available for $509, supports Wi-Fi 6, meaning you'll lose as little speed as possible from that 5G connection when tethering. It also can service up to 32 devices. 

AT&T’s Unlimited Extra and Unlimited Elite plans include hotspot data. But the allotment of hotspot data — 30GB for Elite and 15GB for Extra — runs at 4G speeds.

AT&T 5G plans: What you’ll pay

Here’s the good news: AT&T doesn’t charge extra for 5G service across its three unlimited plans. However, depending on how much you spend and what tier you select, you’ll get more or less full-speed data before AT&T starts throttling you or deprioritizing your service behind that of other users.

The base $65/month Unlimited Starter plan slows your service at any time when AT&T’s network is stressed. That means that although it includes 5G service, the consistency of that service may be in flux from moment to moment. To get the best possible data speeds, you’ll want to at least choose the $75/month Unlimited Extra plan, which allots 50GB of full-speed data, whether you’re on 4G or 5G. The $85/month Unlimited Elite plan doubles that allotment to 100GB before you run the risk of being slowed. See how AT&T's pricing compares in our look at the best unlimited data plan for each wireless carrier. 

More customers are now able to access AT&T 5G. In addition to the current unlimited plans, AT&T said in March that it would access to both 5G and 5G Plus to customers with older unlimited plans. Prepaid customers can get 5G coverage through AT&T's $75-a-month unlimited data plan. (Auto-pay enrollment drops that cost down to $60.)

AT&T 5G outlook

More than two years since AT&T launched its first 5G Plus market, the carrier’s 5G deployment has finally reaching a point where many of its customers can take advantage of it. That’s thanks to the launch of the carrier’s nationwide sub-6GHz network as well as the rash of 5G-capable phones that have been dropping throughout the past year.

AT&T customers living in an urban area covered by both the carrier’s regular and 5G Plus services have the unique opportunity to take advantage of both faster speeds and more extensive coverage. And that will only continue in the coming months, as AT&T expands the reach of both types of 5G infrastructure.

AT&T hopes to add 5G Plus coverage in 17 more venues by year's end. After adding 5G Plus to the airport in Tampa, Fla., the carrier wants to bring high-speed 5G to seven additional airports. 

As for its nationwide network, AT&T plans to begin rolling out its C-band spectrum by the end of 2021, with more deployment for the year after that. Such a move would complement the existing low-band network, bringing faster mid-band speeds similar to what T-Mobile is doing with its own 5G efforts.

Of course, more than 100 million people already have access to that mid-band coverage in T-Mobile's network. Once again, AT&T finds itself with plenty of 5G ground to make up in the year ahead.

Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.
Sours: https://www.tomsguide.com/us/att-5g-network,news-29855.html

At&t iphone 5g

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

  • 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 criticized 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."

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 criticized 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.

Sours: https://www.businessinsider.com/iphones-on-att-now-show-5g-e-symbol-what-it-means-2019-3
iPhone 12 Pro 5G Ultra Wideband Speed Test - AT\u0026T vs Verizon - Searching for AT\u0026T 5G+ In Houston, TX

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