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What does "E" mean on my phone?

It indicates that your phone is connected to your carrier's 2G EDGE network, which happens when you have poor reception.
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Published onDecember 19, 2023

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If you got yourself a new Android phone or a new iPhone, you might be surprised to spot an “E” icon appearing on occasion on the top of the status bar on your phone screen. Coincidentally, your phone’s data connection also slows down to a crawl whenever that happens. If you’re wondering what the “E” symbol means on your phone, we’re here to answer your query in this article.

QUICK ANSWER

E on your phone means that your phone is connected to your carrier's 2G EDGE network. This usually happens when your network reception is abysmal. The cellular data experience on a 2G EDGE network is not ideal for a modern-day smartphone experience, as you will have negligible data speeds.


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What does “E” mean on my phone?

The “E” on your phone’s status bar refers to EDGE, which stands for Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution. EDGE is the evolution of GPRS, but both often get put into the same bucket as what most people commonly recognize as 2G. As a refresher, GPRS was the first step of data service on a mobile network, so EDGE was a step up in speed and bandwidth.

The “E” symbol on your smartphone means your phone is connected to your carrier’s 2G network. This usually indicates poor reception, as you would otherwise be connected to a 5G network, a 4G network, or even a 3G network before falling back to 2G.

With 2G, your internet connection will practically be crawling to a halt, as you can get a maximum download speed of just 384Kbps, which is almost nothing these days. App experiences will suffer tremendously on any modern smartphone on 2G. So if you can connect to a Wi-Fi network, we recommend that you do so.

EDGE vs 3G vs 4G LTE vs 5G: What’s the difference?

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There’s a world of difference between these technologies, as each practically represents a different era of mobile network communication.

EDGE is a 2G technology (often considered as pre-3G) and insufficient for the needs of today. 3G is the next step up in speed and bandwidth and what many regard as the bare minimum needed for a working smartphone experience.

As we go up the generations, the experience vastly improves. LTE and 4G are the most commonly found networks these days, providing a great smartphone experience. 4G is better than LTE, but both are often synonymously used and even referred to as “4G LTE” together. Then there’s 5G, the latest technology for cellular telephony, providing the best speed and bandwidth available right now, but at the cost of limited range.

Why is my phone not connecting to 4G LTE or 5G?

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4G LTE is practically everywhere in urban cities worldwide, while 5G is also rolling out reasonably quickly to urban areas. Your phone will attempt to connect to 4G LTE or 5G networks (as per your device settings), and if those are not available, only then fall back onto 3G and 2G EDGE.

It usually means two things if your phone is not connecting to 4G LTE or 5G. One, you are in an area with poor network connectivity (like a sparsely populated rural town). Or two, if you are in a place where you usually get 4G LTE or 5G but are not getting connected to either right now, it usually means that your carrier’s bandwidth has been completely exhausted and the network capacity is full (as it usually happens in a crowded stadium during a major sporting event or concert).

As mentioned, 3G is what many consider the bare minimum, but that may not be sufficient for your needs if you are trying to access social media or upload photos or videos. If you are getting only a 2G signal, your experience will be even worse, and we would recommend that you stick to phone calls for your communication needs.

How to change your preferred network type on Android

Here is how you can change your preferred network type on Android phones.

On Samsung Galaxy smartphones

  1. Go to Settings > Connections > Mobile networks > Network mode.
  2. Select 5G/LTE/WCDMA/GSM (auto connect). This option will connect to 5G, falling back to LTE when 5G is unavailable and going further down to 3G and 2G as needed. If you know you are not in the range of a 5G tower or have not subscribed to 5G data with your carrier, you should choose LTE/3G/2G, which will connect you to 4G networks as your primary choice.

On Google Pixel smartphones

  1. Go to Settings > Network & internet > SIMs > Preferred network type.
  2. Choose 5G here if you are subscribed to 5G and are in an area serviced by 5G. If not, LTE is a safe choice to get a good data connection.

If you want to turn off 5G, choose the other options. We also have a dedicated guide on how to turn off 5G on your Android phone in case you need further help.

How to change your preferred network type to 5G on iPhone

Here is how you can change your preferred network type to 5G on iPhones.

  1. Go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options > Voice & Data. Cellular may be renamed Mobile in some regions, but the navigation path remains the same.
  2. You can choose 5G Auto, 5G On, or LTE.
  3. If you are subscribed to 5G, we recommend 5G Auto as it enables Smart Data mode. When 5G speeds aren’t needed, the iPhone will automatically switch to LTE to save battery life. 5G On always uses 5G, impacting battery life.
  4. If you are not subscribed to 5G services or spend most of your time in regions not serviced by 5G, then you should choose LTE.
  5. There is also a setting for 5G Standalone. When enabled, your iPhone will use 5G for all cellular activity, drawing more battery. Some carriers may need this setting enabled for 5G to work, so please get in touch with your carrier for the best setting.

FAQs

Yes, T-Mobile’s 2G network is still active in the USA until April 2024. Verizon and AT&T have shut down their 2G networks a few years ago.

You can move from an EDGE network to an area with better 3G, 4G, or 5G reception. This will get rid of the E symbol on the phone as it indicates that you are connected to a 2G EDGE network.

Your phone switches from 5G to E because you are getting poor network reception or because your network has exhausted its bandwidth.