5GE: AT&T's Misleading Label on iPhone

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    After upgrading to iOS 12.2, the newest version of iOS, AT&T users might see a "5GE" icon in place of "LTE" for their cellular connection.

    This is AT&T's misleading name for an enhanced 4G LTE network, and as explained in the guide below, is not actual 5G connectivity.


    Why am I seeing a 5GE icon?

    According to AT&T, customers who upgrade to iOS 12.2 will see the "5GE" icon when connected to what AT&T is calling a 5GE network. This is an AT&T-only thing, so it's limited to AT&T customers.

    It's also only showing up on iOS devices running iOS 12.2 or later, but the 5GE icon has also previously rolled out to some Android devices.

    What is 5GE?

    5GE, or 5G "Evolution" is the name that AT&T is using in areas where 4G LTE technologies like three-way carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256 QAM are available. These features making existing wireless networks faster, provided your smartphone supports them.


    These are technologies that have already been in place on AT&T's network and networks from Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Your phone has probably already been connecting to AT&T's LTE networks with these capabilities even before AT&T added its 5GE icon.

    AT&T, in fact, started rolling out support for these technologies in 2017, as did other U.S. carriers.

    AT&T says that in areas with these upgraded LTE technologies, customers can reach peak theoretical wireless speeds of up to 400 megabits per second, but in real-world usage that ends up being closer to 40 megabits per second.

    These are LTE speeds that are available on many other carriers to customers using modern devices.

    What's real 5G?

    Real 5G networks, when available, will offer much faster connection speeds and better performance. Carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile are working on rolling out 5G mobile networks.

    Actual 5G networks, when up and running with full coverage available, may be anywhere from 10 to 100 times faster than LTE networks.

    So wait, my iPhone isn't connecting to a 5G network?

    Even if AT&T did have a 5G network, which it does not right now, there are no iPhones in existence right now that are capable of connecting to a 5G network.

    5G technology requires new modem hardware so until there is an iPhone with a 5G modem chip, no iPhones will work with 5G networks. Your current iPhone will not connect to 5G networks and will be limited to LTE.

    I have an earlier version of iOS, will I see 5GE?

    At this time, AT&T says that only devices running iOS 12.2 will display the 5GE icon. That doesn't mean your iPhone isn't taking advantage of AT&T's 5GE network, though, since the icon is merely cosmetic.

    Where is 5GE available?

    According to AT&T, "5GE" speeds are available in more than 400 markets, and by the first half of 2019, the upgraded LTE technology is expected to be available nationwide to more than 200 million customers.


    Why is AT&T misleading customers?

    AT&T's justification is that 5G technology "is an evolution" rather than a single event, which is a rather weak argument.

    AT&T wants customers to know that they're on an upgraded LTE network with faster speeds than were possible a few years back ahead of the rollout of 5G, but using 5G terminology is an underhanded and confusing way of doing it.

    In short, it's a marketing tactic that's essentially designed to fool customers into thinking they're connecting to a faster 5G network, capitalizing on all the buzz around 5G technology right now.

    Are other carriers using misleading 5G branding?

    T-Mobile has made fun of AT&T's decision to call its LTE networks 5G, while Sprint has called it "blatantly misleading."

    Verizon has taken out full page ads in major newspapers like The New York Times and has warned about the dangers of confusing terms.
    Sprint has also taken out full-page ads bashing AT&T's deception and has gone so far as to sue AT&T for the misleading branding. Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, the other three major carriers in the U.S., have no plans to introduce similarly confusing branding ahead of the rollout of 5G.

    When will AT&T actually have a real 5G network?

    Technically, AT&T has already started rolling out real 5G service in parts of 12 cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas.

    AT&T plans to expand real 5G coverage to additional cities that include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose during the first half of 2019. AT&T's 5G networks are denoted by a "5G+" icon.

    But remember, even with 5G networks available from AT&T, devices also need to incorporate 5G chips to use them.

    AT&T is also confusingly rolling out another network feature called LTE-LAA, a second upgraded version of LTE with peak theoretical speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

    When will my iPhone work with 5G networks?

    Rumors suggest Apple could implement 5G technology as soon as 2020, but it's not expected for the 2019 iPhone lineup. Intel has said that its 5G chips won't be in smartphones until 2020, and Apple has quit using Qualcomm chips due to the legal battle raging between the two companies.

    Some Android smartphone manufacturers, including Samsung, are rolling out 5G smartphones in 2019. Carriers will also start to roll out 5G networks in 2019, but it will take several years for 5G to get off the ground and for coverage to spread across the United States.

    Article Link: 5GE: AT&T's Misleading Label on iPhone
  2. izyreal macrumors regular

    Sep 26, 2012
    Sometimes clever marketing gets too clever... For AT&T this is one of those times
  3. Eorlas macrumors 6502

    Feb 10, 2010
    Wouldn't this make more sense if it were 4Ge isntead of 5Ge? Or even something "trendy" like 4Gx to signify that it's different. I agree it would be good to know when I'm in an area that has more advanced 4G like including mimo, but 5Ge is bizarre nomenclature essentially for when 5G doesn't exist in most markets.

    And you KNOW that our less tech-inclined friends are going to say "I've got 5G where I live." Uhhhh, no, you probably do not.
  4. al256 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2001
  5. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    For as much bad press as AT&T is getting for this 5Ge farce, I wouldn’t be suprised if they walk themselves back from the term. It almost seems like a class-action lawsuit waiting in the wings.
  6. Porco macrumors 68030


    Mar 28, 2005
    The trouble is now I don't even believe they are AT&T. I think they must be exaggerating, and they are simply AT&. They are on the path, evolving towards AT&T.
  7. robjulo macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2010
    This paints a picture that Apple has no control over what is displayed.
  8. Optheduim macrumors member

    Jun 9, 2011
    Didn’t they do this while transitioning from 3g to 4g a few years ago?

    I don’t support this as a business practice.
  9. _Refurbished_ macrumors 68000


    Mar 23, 2007
    iPhone Xs Max 5G Evolution

    This would have been one of those sarcastic posts about naming schemes seven years ago.

    Today, reality.
  10. zsbradt macrumors member

    Nov 15, 2014

    Attached Files:

  11. iGeek2014 macrumors 68020

    Jun 29, 2014
    === Nowheresville ===
    I’m in the U.K. but am guessing this icon is only going to appear on the XS/XS Max?

    Gigabit-LTE and 4 x 4 MIMO isn’t available on the XR (nor is LTE-LAA) hence my query.
  12. Danbrown521 macrumors regular

    Jun 19, 2011
    Lakeland, Fl
    It went away for me in the last beta.. not sure what happened.
  13. Vasilioskn macrumors 6502


    Jun 30, 2010
    New York
    I see 5Ge and the speeds are the same if not less than LTE
  14. 2010mini macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    AT&T up to their old shenanigans again?
    Remember back in the 4G days?
  15. archvile macrumors 6502


    Oct 27, 2007
    In my area of crappy LTE service (1-2 bars, doesn't work half the time), I noticed after installing 12.2 that I am also apparently in a mixed LTE/5GE area. I chuckled as I drove through town today, the phone must have switched back and forth from LTE to 5GE about 10 times, neither of which was any better than the other (in other words, both are crap, even though they are the same thing). AT&T... smdh
  16. JetTester macrumors 6502

    Feb 12, 2014
  17. Rookbird macrumors member


    Sep 12, 2016
    This is why I won’t touch ANYTHING owned by AT&T! I’ve had several of their services and EVERYTIME either the service didn’t work very well or they found anyway they could to charge me more money. AT&T has absolutely NO ethics.
  18. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    6031C7B2-0DCF-4B7F-9CBC-7DB5535BFF8F.jpeg Here’s what that new icon really is .

    Keep in mind this is in Portland where at&t says it’s available according to the icon on my iPhone
  19. Ihatefall macrumors regular

    Jun 30, 2010
    Can you try again when you have full reception I am curious.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 25, 2019 ---
    Does anyone else feel like if they JUST HAD TO LABEL the upgrade, that it should have been called 4Ge instead?
    This is an evolution of the 4G tech not of 5G tech. Right?
  20. MDF314159265 macrumors 6502


    Sep 4, 2010
    Temecula, CA
    AT&T misleading??.... Ya don’t say!....
  21. GreenPixel macrumors member


    Aug 21, 2014
    They could label it LTE-A. Since that's what it is.
  22. Peace, Mar 25, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2019

    Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier

    I tested it four times.

    Minimum was 29 down and 1.7 up
    Maximum was 49 down and about 1 up

    This is inside my single level home in a residential urban neighborhood.

    iPhone Xs
  23. Jimmy James macrumors 601

    Jimmy James

    Oct 26, 2008
    Market it as 6G. Clearly, they would be unique market leaders.
  24. macduke macrumors G4


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    I doubt anything will come from this or change because they got away with it last time. I remember one day my iPhone 4S started showing a 4G icon and I was really confused because 4G isn’t even a thing. Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile should screw with them and call their new 5G network 6G and trademark all variations such as 6GE, 6G+, 6G anything and allow anyone but AT&T to use it.

    Isn’t there like a standards body for this crap? It’s not like companies can just say their router uses WiFi 12 or their phone uses BlueTooth 9.1. AT&T is so dirty and misleading. I dropped them not long after when I got my iPhone 5 in 2012.
  25. rodavici macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2013
    No - it'll show as 4G. This is AT&T marketing crap - when you're on a better than standard LTE in any way, you'll see 5GE - but only on AT&T.

    All US iPhones show LTE whereas UK iPhones say 4G. If I go to the UK (my homeland) my iPhone says "LTE" when my mates iPhones on the same network say 4G.

    This is all because AT&T and T-Mobile over here decided that their UMTS (3G) network was actually a 4G network for pure marketing reasons before their proper 4G networks launched. So if my iPhone connects to an AT&T or T-Mobile 3G network, it says 4G but when connected to a proper 4G network, it says LTE.

    When I'm back home and roaming on say EE and I'm outside of a 4G (LTE) network, my phone says 3G.

    (Still not as much as a **** show as Brexit though).


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67 March 25, 2019