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AT&T’s fake 5G icon invades the iPhone in latest iOS beta

Published Feb 4th, 2019 6:04PM EST

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The roll out of 5G support is without question a game-changing development that will fundamentally impact the way we use our smartphones. The bad news, though, is that it’s going to take some time before broad 5G support actually becomes a reality. Indeed, this is why Apple will reportedly wait until 2020 before introducing iPhones with support for 5G.

In the interim, AT&T has adopted an interesting, if not controversial and downright misleading tactic. As you may recall, word surfaced a few weeks back that AT&T will begin replacing the LTE indicator on select smartphone models with a 5G E symbol. The symbol will only appear in markets that happen to support AT&T’s fastest LTE technologies.

The following statement from an AT&T spokesperson last month suggested that this might only be the case on Android devices:

If they have one of the latest Android devices and it connects to a tower that’s enabled with 5G Evolution, they’ll soon see a “5G E” indicator pop up on their screen. Initially we’ll roll this out on a handful of devices, with more devices showing the indicator in spring 2019.

As it turns out, iPhone owners might soon be glaring at a 5G E symbol themselves. As pointed out by MacRumors, some iPhone owners who installed the second iOS 12.2 beta have noticed that the 4G symbol has transformed into 5G E, as evidenced by the photo below.

Incidentally, the E in 5G E stands for “Evolution” and, per AT&T, supports “peak theoretical wireless speeds for capable devices of at least 400 megabits per second.” That’s a nice speed bump, but there’s no getting around the fact that the 5G E symbol above is purposefully misleading. AT&T has been widely criticized for its little 5G E tactic, but there’s no indication that the company cares or is even the least bit interested in reversing course.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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