Some AT&T users running iOS 12.2 beta 2 are starting to notice a slight change on their devices. An update is starting to rollout which removes the LTE service icon on their device and replaces it with the mobile-friendly version of 5G Evolution, “5G E.”
A lot of device owners would see the visibility of “5G E” on their device and notice that it perhaps looks slightly strange but pay no further attention to it. Others, however, are slightly confused by the fact that AT&T has made this change considering the network doesn’t yet offer a true 5G service and the device itself isn’t actually equipped with a 5G modem.
This change appears to be visible on Apple’s latest 4×4 MIMO LTE-equipped handsets – iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max – running iOS 12.2 beta 2. It’s likely it will also appear on Apple’s 2018 iPad Pro models running iOS 12.2 beta 2 due to that hardware having the same chipset architecture.
AT&T has already been on record to state that it hopes to roll out a true 5G service across the United States by 2020, which, incidentally, will hopefully be the same year that Apple pushes an iPhone model out into the market which contains a 5G modem that would be required to be able to connect to and consume AT&T’s next-generation 5G-capable mobile network. Still, all of this doesn’t immediately explain why some device owners running iOS 12.2 are seeing “5G E” showing up on their devices. AT&T’s SVP of wireless technology, Igal Elbaz, has previously discussed 5G Evolution, as pointed out by 9To5Mac:
We’ve been talking about 5G Evolution for a while now. We were pretty public about what we were doing and what we were deploying. What we’re trying to do is two things. One is to let the customer know that they are in an enhanced experience market or area. So we’re letting them know this on the device. And there are close to 20 devices that support this.
So, if you are operating in an “enhanced experienced market or area,” have iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, or a cellular 2018 iPad Pro, and are running Apple’s latest iOS 12.2 beta 2 firmware release, then you may just find yourself looking at “5G E” rather than LTE on your device’s screen.