Some AT&T iPhones Displaying Misleading '5GE' Icon in iOS 12.2 Beta 2 [Updated]
Some AT&T users who have installed the new iOS 12.2 beta are noticing their iPhones displaying a '5G E' connection to AT&T's network, which is AT&T's misleading name for an "upgraded" version of 4G LTE.
Devices in certain areas are displaying a "5G E" icon instead of LTE, but as the "E" suggests, this is not real 5G. No iPhone that exists right now is capable of connecting to a 5G network, nor is AT&T's network 5G at this time.
The "E" stands for Evolution, a new brand name AT&T is using for some parts of its LTE network. According to AT&T, 5G Evolution reaches a peak theoretical wireless speed of 400Mb/s, which does not match 5G data transfer speeds and is in fact the same as traditional LTE speeds.
AT&T claims that 5G Evolution is the "first step on the road to 5G," bringing improvements to already-existing LTE networks. Technically, 5G Evolution uses technologies already employed by other carriers.
How are we doing it? With enhancements like carrier aggregation to add more "lanes" to the highway that data travels on. 4x4 MIMO to double the number of antennas that can send data back and forth. And 256 QAM to make data transmission more efficient. All this adds up to faster speeds for you.
According to AT&T, its "5G Evolution" network is live in more than 400 markets, with more to come. Other carriers, such as T-Mobile, have made fun of AT&T for its misleading branding.
True 5G smartphones won't be coming until later in 2019, and rumors suggest Apple will not introduce 5G support until 2020 at the earliest.
Update: AT&T has provided the following statement to MacRumors on the new icon in iOS 12.2 beta 2: "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."