What you need to know
- iPhone 12 and 13 devices will show a 5G UC icon to indicate they're connected to T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G network.
- T-Mobile is working to bring this feature to as many phones as possible in the future.
- Ultra Capacity 5G uses mid-band and mmWave spectrum to deliver 5G speeds faster than is possible on its Extended Range 5G network.
Alongside Apple's announcement of the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro, T-Mobile has revealed in a tweet by the president of technology, Neville Ray, that a new 5G UC icon will indicate when customers are connected to T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G service. This differentiates the slower Extended Range coverage from the faster Ultra Capacity 5G coverage that mainly uses mid-band spectrum acquired from Sprint.
The T-Mobile Help account also confirmed that this icon would also be available on the iPhone 12 series. Beyond that, T-Mobile says it's working with device partners to bring this icon to as many devices as possible, so there's a good chance Android users will soon get the same level of information.
T-Mobile's 5G network uses a few different chunks of spectrum for coverage. Starting at 600MHz, T-Mobile's low-band n71 spectrum is great for coverage with 305 million people already covered but doesn't offer significant speed improvement over LTE much of the time.
Band n41 at 2.5GHz can deliver much greater speed and now covers more than 165 million people. Band n41, as well as upcoming C-band coverage and mmWave spectrum, make up what T-Mobile calls Ultra Capacity 5G. T-Mobile 5G phones can use Ultra Capacity 5G, including many of the best Android phones such as the Galaxy S21 series and 5G Pixels.
Until a recent coverage map update, it was very difficult to tell which 5G connection you had. Some phones would be able to tell you in diagnostics menus, but this is far out of reach for an average consumer. With this icon update, users will be able to tell when they're connected to T-Mobile's fastest 5G network with a glance.
With speeds regularly over 300Mbps, Ultra Capacity 5G is one of T-Mobile's greatest assets as the competition scrambles to build a competing 5G network using C-band and mmWave. T-Mobile has some of the best cell phone plans to try out 5G as well, with its Magenta Max plan offering unlimited premium data so even the heaviest users can forget about usage.