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No, your AT&T phone doesn't have 5G yet

"5G E" isn't actually 5G.

AT&T office New York City, USA: Signage and logo outside its

AT&T wants to get an early start on 5G, but maybe a little too early.

Roberto Machado Noa

5G, the next generation of wireless technology, is going to be a big deal when it starts hitting phones next year. And phone carrier companies are getting excited about it -- maybe too excited.

AT&T has already reportedly rolled out "5G E" to some phones (including the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, LG V30 or LG V40). Select phones in specific regions will connect to this new network and show "5G E" in the top corner of the screen instead of the usual "LTE" indicator. Even more phones are expected to get 5G E later on.

The only thing is that 5G E isn't actually 5G. AT&T's 5G Evolution technology is really just advanced 4G LTE with some confusing marketing language. It's supposed to set the foundation, so AT&T can eventually roll out 5G, but it's still 4G technology.

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An AT&T spokesperson reportedly told FierceWireless that the company will "roll this out on a handful of devices, with more devices showing the indicator in spring 2019."

It's worth noting that AT&T's actual 5G network is already live in a few cities, but you'll need a 5G-compatible phone in order to use it (the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, LG V30, and LG V40 are not 5G-compatible). Manufacturers are expected to release these phones starting early 2019 and throughout 2020. But your current 4G phone won't be magically switched to a 5G network, even if AT&T's branding makes you think otherwise.

AT&T didn't respond to a request for comment.

First published Dec. 21, 10:54 a.m. PT.
Update, Jan. 7 at 11:42 a.m. PT: Adds that the "5G E" indicator is reportedly rolling out now.