AT&T’s fake 5GE icon has been added to AOSP

AT&T’s fake 5GE icon has been added to AOSP

AT&T’s misleading “5GE” campaign became part of Android when Samsung phones that were updated to Android Pie and One UI began showing the 5GE icon in the status bar. This was a dishonest practice from AT&T as this created the illusion that the technology being referred to in this case, is as superior as 5G, when in fact, it is just marginally better than 4G and does not come close to true 5G technology.

What AT&T is marketing as “5G Evolution” is nothing but 4G LTE-Advanced: 4G LTE with Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) and 4×4 MIMO. In fact, AT&T is actually late to the 4G LTE-A party, and reports suggest that AT&T’s 5GE is actually slower than T-Mobile and Verizon’s 4G. Sprint even went ahead and sued AT&T for their misleading branding, but ended up settling the dispute.

Now, AT&T’s fake 5GE icon has been added to AOSP. This means that the 5GE icon is being officially recognized as a valid option across Android. The icon will likely be shown when a phone is connected to the LTE network from AT&T, provided they have the requisite device-specific configuration set up to actually show the icon. This opens up the possibility that all Android Q smartphones on AT&T may start displaying 5GE in the status bar, which is very likely what will end up happening. Methods within the code suggest that the threshold for displaying the icon may be as simple as using Carrier Aggregation on a certain carrier (likely AT&T), with no importance placed on actual speeds from our prima facie inspection. So while your phone may proudly display “5GE,” there is no guarantee that this would be any better than a mere cosmetic change.

What are your thoughts on the addition of a 5GE icon to AOSP? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks to XDA Recognized Developer luca020400 for the tip!

About author

Aamir Siddiqui
Aamir Siddiqui

I am a tech journalist with XDA since 2015, while being a qualified business-litigation lawyer with experience in the field. A low-end smartphone purchase in 2011 brought me to the forums, and it's been a journey filled with custom ROMs ever since. When not fully dipped in smartphone news, I love traveling to places just to capture pictures of the sun setting. You can reach out to me at [email protected] or on Twitter (@aamirsidd94).