AT&T just officially launched its 5G network, deploying millimeter wave 5G in a dozen markets with a new hotspot device that can utilize the new network. AT&T does not, however, have a 5G phone yet. But that isn't going to stop it from updating iconography on existing LTE phones to show its customers that it really cares about 5G. The carrier has confirmed with FierceWireless that "the latest Android devices" will soon see their "LTE" status bar icon change to "5G E" to signify that it is connected to AT&T's "5G Evolution" network.
Spend your time and money making your network better, not telling me it's better.
The "5G E" icon will only show when a customer's phone is connected to its upgraded network, which offers improved 4G LTE speeds through the use of carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO transmission and 256 QAM. But there's a problem: these technologies are not 5G, nor are they in any way related to 5G. They are 4G LTE. AT&T's "5G Evolution" network has been around for over 18 months, steadily expanding LTE speeds nationwide — and to its credit, these network upgrades are entirely useful and necessary even as we transition to 5G. LTE will continue to be the backbone of carriers' networks for years to come. But again, they are not 5G.
AT&T says customers will start to see the "5G E" icon when connected to an upgraded tower soon, with the rollout happening slowly at first and ramping up through the spring of 2019.
This move is disingenuous at best, and intentionally misleading at worst. AT&T's marketing department has mapped this out well, but it's doing a disservice to customers by completely muddying the waters over what is and isn't 5G. The change from "LTE" to "5G E" in your phone's status bar has done absolutely nothing to improve your speeds or experience, or to justify the price of your bill. Your phone has gained no further capabilities than it had the week before on the exact same network with a different label. We can only hope that U.S. consumers are able to see through this misdirection, but it shouldn't come down to that — AT&T should do right by its customers and be completely transparent about what it's selling.
We've been down this exact road before, most notably with T-Mobile branding its upgraded HSPA+ network as "4G" before LTE had been deployed. We lambasted the carrier for that move, and AT&T deserves the same treatment here. AT&T, with its choice to roll out the "5G E" icon, is ignoring the old tenet that actions speak louder than words: spend your time and money making your network better, not telling me it's better.
Here are the best alternatives to Dark Sky for Android
One of the more popular weather apps is leaving Android, so it's time to find yourself something new. Here are some weather apps I actually like more that you can turn to and fill the Dark Sky hole in your heart.
Google's AirDrop rival 'Nearby Share' finally starts rolling out
Google's Nearby Share platform, which lets users easily and anonymously share files with each other, has finally started rolling out. Initially, however, Nearby Share will only be available on select Pixel and Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 appears in a new video leak ahead of launch
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 has shown up in leaked AT&T instructional videos, just a day before its official unveiling.
These are the cheapest phones to try out 5G
5G is still pretty new and so are its phones but the prices have started to come down. These are the cheapest 5G phones you can buy right now.