AT&T has started to roll out an update to some iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 12.2 beta 2 update that changes their LTE service icon to “5G E,” short for 5G Evolution. This controversial move from the US carrier comes after it has done the same for some Android smartphones.
As spotted by 9to5Mac readers Jay and @Siddavarapu, the change from AT&T started showing up today after updating to the latest iOS 12.2 beta that includes four new Animoji. The carrier-based change has received some heat as the carrier isn’t actually offering true 5G service, nor does any iPhone have a 5G modem.
It looks like users of the latest iPhones (XR, XS, and XS Max) are seeing the change when running the iOS 12.2 beta 2 software. Meanwhile, we would expect the 5G E icon to be seen on the 2018 iPad Pro models as well since they share the same 4×4 MIMO LTE chips as the new iPhones.
AT&T has said that it plans to roll out its true 5G service nationwide by 2020, the same year that Apple is expected to include the necessary 5G modems in its iPhones to take advantage of the next-generation cellular network.
As for AT&T’s approach to using 5G E instead of sticking with the LTE icon for now, the company’s SVP of wireless technology Igal Elbaz, previously said the following:
“We’ve been talking about 5G Evolution for a while now. We were pretty public about what we were doing and what we were deploying,” said Elbaz.
“What we’re trying to do is two things. One is to let the customer know that they are in an enhanced experience market or area. So we’re letting them know this on the device. And there are close to 20 devices that support this.”
The carrier currently has its enhanced 5G E service live in over 400 markets and sees it as an important step in moving to standards-based 5G service.
Also 5g symbol enabled pic.twitter.com/zN7nHbjTrx
— P G S (@Siddavarapu) February 4, 2019
Even though it’s nice some AT&T users should experience faster service in select markets, 5G E will likely add to the confusion around the next-generation wireless network standard as it shows up on more users’ devices. Just earlier today we heard that most consumers think Apple is winning the 5G race, despite the company just starting to test 5G modem’s from Intel this year.
Here is an official statement 9to5Mac received from AT&T:
Today, some iPhone and iPad users could start seeing our 5G Evolution indicator on their devices. The indicator simply helps customers know when they are in an area where the 5G Evolution experience may be available.
Are you seeing the change on any of your devices? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter!
Top Image via Jay, thanks!