iPhone 12 '5G' indicator denotes best available connection

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has reportedly tweaked the network status bar indicator on iPhone 12 models to depict the best available speed and not necessarily the currently used connection.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


That's according to a small tidbit concerning 5G support in a review of the Apple handset by The Verge. More specifically, the tweaked network indicators only apply to 5G-equipped Apple devices like the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro.

It appears that the icon behavior is a byproduct of the new "Smart Data mode" that Apple has added to iPhone 12, The Verge's Dieter Bohn notes. In a bid to save battery life, the mode drops the handset to LTE speeds unless iOS decides 5G connectivity is warranted.

"What's weird is that when the iPhone is limiting you to LTE speeds, it will still display the 5G icon in the status bar. It's now an indicator of the best speed available to you, not the actual type of connection that's actively in use," Bohn writes.

Similarly, it's not clear which situations will get 5G to kick in when Smart Data mode is enabled. Users can toggle the feature off in Settings, however. Bohn notes that he left the feature on and "honestly never really felt like [he] was being throttled."

As far as how 5G actually performed on the iPhone 12, the review notes that "it performs as well or better than 5G Android phones." Bohn adds that devices do heat up when 5G is in use, and battery life can take a hit if it's overused.

This isn't the first time that a status indicator has proven to be misleading on an iPhone. In 2019, AT&T displayed -- and continues to display -- a "5G E" indicator on devices that only support an upgraded version of 4G LTE.

It also isn't the first time that Apple has changed how the user-facing cell status indicators behave. Back in iOS 2010, Apple made changes that did away with an overly optimistic view of current connection strength.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    I don't know if I'd call that misleading.

    Much of the time you aren't going to make use of full speed anyhow - it's so dependent on the speed of the server you're connecting to, traffic on the server, the traffic on the network in between, etc.
    gregoriusmrazorpitretrogustowatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    mobirdmobird Posts: 661member
    I saw on a Verizon iPhone ad that showed the network indicator as 5G UWB, and the voice-over was talking about 5G Ultra Wide Band. What would that indicate? I wonder what Apple thinks about Verizon using the Ultra Wide Band moniker for a 5G feature?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 24
    yuck9yuck9 Posts: 112member
    Good thing it can be turned on and off. Apple needs to quit being users nanny.
  • Reply 4 of 24
    GabyGaby Posts: 180member
    Perhaps to better indicate whether you’re actually using a 5G connection or if it’s just available they could add (5G) in brackets as demonstrated if it’s theoretically available and without brackets when actively in use? Seems a simple way to denote the difference. Also it seems obvious to me that 5G is only going to need to be in use for very high data so video streaming, 4K YouTube perhaps, certain online gaming etc. It seems good that its a set and forget type option I mean if I’m on YouTube I can’t imagine being distracted by the worry of “am I getting the best connection” if what you’re doing is running as it should why concern yourself with the details. It will also be interesting to see if people get away with much more basic 5G plans if the phone reverts to 4G/LTE when possible. 
    flyingdpPetrolDaverazorpitllama
  • Reply 5 of 24
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,941member
    yuck9 said:
    Good thing it can be turned on and off. Apple needs to quit being users nanny.
     Bohn notes that he left the feature on and "honestly never really felt like [he] was being throttled."”
     devices do heat up when 5G is in use, and battery life can take a hit if it's overused. ”

    So, if it doesn’t affect the user experience, saves battery life and keeps the phone from heating up when the iPhone drops down to LTE while you are reading email or doing some sort of low data operation, you’re gonna be mad that Apple is being a nanny?

    I mean, one of the things that has kept Apple on the top of the heap for so long is that they care about the user experience. If you don’t care about the user experience and want to control every thing yourself just because, then you probably should be on an Android...
    gregoriusmmike1caladanianPetrolDaveDancingMonkeysGeorgeBMacretrogustogeorgie01fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 24
    I just wonder how much the various operators paid Apple for this "feature"
    razorpitNotoriousDEV
  • Reply 7 of 24
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 
    flyingdpPetrolDaveCloudTalkinentropys
  • Reply 8 of 24
    iadlib said:
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 
    Yah, stop these non sense uckery, really Apple??
  • Reply 9 of 24
    This doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal or very different from what I experience now. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my iPhone has said I’m connected to LTE but the download speeds seem more like 2.5G.

    How is this any different than if I had a 5G signal but was only getting LTE speeds?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Does the fake 5G only show in Smart Data mode?  Because otherwise, that's the stupidest thing.  Either way it's stupid, actually.  I didn't pick up in the article exactly the benefit of them always showing 5G.  Why not actually show what speed you're running at.  Sort of like a car with the speedometer always pointing to 100, regardless of how fast you are actually going.  Dumb.
    muthuk_vanalingamPetrolDaveGeorgeBMacCloudTalkin
  • Reply 11 of 24
    mobird said:
    I saw on a Verizon iPhone ad that showed the network indicator as 5G UWB, and the voice-over was talking about 5G Ultra Wide Band. What would that indicate? I wonder what Apple thinks about Verizon using the Ultra Wide Band moniker for a 5G feature?
    Apple made a version of the iPhone for Ultra Wide Band / mmWave so they’re cool with that!
  • Reply 12 of 24
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,941member
    iadlib said:
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 
    For all you people complaining about this, think about it for a second, please!

    First, can you acknowledge that there might be a benefit to the user to have the phone drop down to LTE when low data usage is occurring?  This was outlined in the article—lower battery drain and less generated heat.

    Second, imagine the howls of complaints when people see their phone “lose 5G connection” repeatedly!  Because that is what it would look like when it switches to LTE to everybody who is on edge and primed to complain. 

    Clearly, most people don’t need 5G speed for most of the things they do. But they might feel cheated AF if they think their phone or their cellular provider cannot hold a consistent signal.

    The benefit of showing the highest speed signal available is that you can have the peace of mind to know that if you need it, it is there—while at the same time not incurring the negatives of 5G for no reason.
    caladanianDancingMonkeysjonrorazorpitGeorgeBMacretrogustofastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    bageljoey said:
    iadlib said:
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 
    For all you people complaining about this, think about it for a second, please!

    First, can you acknowledge that there might be a benefit to the user to have the phone drop down to LTE when low data usage is occurring?  This was outlined in the article—lower battery drain and less generated heat.

    Second, imagine the howls of complaints when people see their phone “lose 5G connection” repeatedly!  Because that is what it would look like when it switches to LTE to everybody who is on edge and primed to complain. 

    Clearly, most people don’t need 5G speed for most of the things they do. But they might feel cheated AF if they think their phone or their cellular provider cannot hold a consistent signal.

    The benefit of showing the highest speed signal available is that you can have the peace of mind to know that if you need it, it is there—while at the same time not incurring the negatives of 5G for no reason.
    Sorry, but I don't buy that at all.  I'm all for the phone dropping to LTE to save battery if it thinks that is the best mode for the moment.  Fine.  BUT SHOW IT!  What good is an indicator if it isn't accurate?  And, if you're saying it's smart to always show 5G instead of the actual mode just to keep a bunch of angry consumers calm then maybe 5G technology isn't as solid as they claim!  Having no clue whether my phone is using 5G or LTE isn't what I would call "peace of mind".
    entropysmuthuk_vanalingamCloudTalkinGaby
  • Reply 14 of 24
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    bageljoey said:
    iadlib said:
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 
    For all you people complaining about this, think about it for a second, please!

    First, can you acknowledge that there might be a benefit to the user to have the phone drop down to LTE when low data usage is occurring?  This was outlined in the article—lower battery drain and less generated heat.

    Second, imagine the howls of complaints when people see their phone “lose 5G connection” repeatedly!  Because that is what it would look like when it switches to LTE to everybody who is on edge and primed to complain. 

    Clearly, most people don’t need 5G speed for most of the things they do. But they might feel cheated AF if they think their phone or their cellular provider cannot hold a consistent signal.

    The benefit of showing the highest speed signal available is that you can have the peace of mind to know that if you need it, it is there—while at the same time not incurring the negatives of 5G for no reason.
    Sorry, but I don't buy that at all.  I'm all for the phone dropping to LTE to save battery if it thinks that is the best mode for the moment.  Fine.  BUT SHOW IT!  What good is an indicator if it isn't accurate?  And, if you're saying it's smart to always show 5G instead of the actual mode just to keep a bunch of angry consumers calm then maybe 5G technology isn't as solid as they claim!  Having no clue whether my phone is using 5G or LTE isn't what I would call "peace of mind".
    Think about what you wrote for a second. If the only way you knew you were on was from a little badge on the phone, otherwise you would never know, is it really that big of a deal?
    retrogusto
  • Reply 15 of 24
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 787member
    I smell a lawsuit on the rise. 
    razorpit
  • Reply 16 of 24
    iadlib said:
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 

    That to me is the issue; if a user is paying for 5G (at least 1 US carrier is making people upgrade some plans, approximately $20/mo), the user wants a clear indication of when/where he/she is actually receiving that level of service. 

    Things like this give the Luddite politicians more ammo in their ‘break up Big Tech’ quest. 

    razorpitentropysmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,681member
    iadlib said:
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 

    I suspect that Apple thought this through very carefully.   Specifically that they are showing the highest option available.  But, if it's not needed for the task (say Apple Music streaming)  they utilize a more efficient method.   But the user still gets all the speed needed for the process.   It's like if it used only half of the 5G speed available, it would still be 5G.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,681member
    ITGUYINSD said:
    bageljoey said:
    iadlib said:
    For the love of all that is holy be transparent with your users with stupid little things like this. If it’s using 5G show 5G if it’s using ultra wide, show 5GUW. If it’s using LTE show that. Stop all this fuckery. 
    For all you people complaining about this, think about it for a second, please!

    First, can you acknowledge that there might be a benefit to the user to have the phone drop down to LTE when low data usage is occurring?  This was outlined in the article—lower battery drain and less generated heat.

    Second, imagine the howls of complaints when people see their phone “lose 5G connection” repeatedly!  Because that is what it would look like when it switches to LTE to everybody who is on edge and primed to complain. 

    Clearly, most people don’t need 5G speed for most of the things they do. But they might feel cheated AF if they think their phone or their cellular provider cannot hold a consistent signal.

    The benefit of showing the highest speed signal available is that you can have the peace of mind to know that if you need it, it is there—while at the same time not incurring the negatives of 5G for no reason.
    Sorry, but I don't buy that at all.  I'm all for the phone dropping to LTE to save battery if it thinks that is the best mode for the moment.  Fine.  BUT SHOW IT!  What good is an indicator if it isn't accurate?  And, if you're saying it's smart to always show 5G instead of the actual mode just to keep a bunch of angry consumers calm then maybe 5G technology isn't as solid as they claim!  Having no clue whether my phone is using 5G or LTE isn't what I would call "peace of mind".

    It IS accurate.   It just isn't indicating what you want it to indicate.
    retrogusto
  • Reply 19 of 24
    This is exactly how I would want it to function. Heck, sometimes my phone isn’t using data at all, but I wouldn’t want my bars to disappear whenever I wasn’t actively using the network. And presumably it is maintaining some nominal connection to the 5G network even when it’s prioritizing 4G, just to retain and confirm the availability. It’s helpful to know the nature and strength of my available network connection, and maybe it would briefly be fun in a nerdy way to see all of my actual network activity in more detail, but for the vast majority of users, Apple’s solution strikes the right balance of usefulness and simplicity. As noted, you can always turn off Smart Data mode if you want it to display exactly what’s happening instead, but I wouldn’t do it because Apple’s default solution is preferable. Would a lot of people really need to monitor the activity of Smart Data mode in real time, as they’re using the phone? That seems pretty unrealistic.
    georgie01GeorgeBMacfastasleep
  • Reply 20 of 24
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,300member
     Would a lot of people really need to monitor the activity of Smart Data mode in real time, as they’re using the phone? That seems pretty unrealistic.
    At first probably a LOT of people would like to monitor it in real-time just to better understand when, where, and why it's used on their new phone. I know I'd be curious how useful it actually is and when it's most beneficial. A month after they get they won't care all that much, too much information. 
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