Apple iPhones are now showing AT&T's fake '5G E' network too

AT&T's misleading 5G E network popped up in Android phones in January. Now iPhones are showing it too.

Some AT&T iPhones started to indicate that they're connected to a 5G network that doesn't exist yet.
Angela Lang/CNET

Back in January, AT&T raised eyebrows when some Android phones on its network started displaying a "5G E" connectivity, despite being connected to only an upgraded version of 4G LTE. The indication popped up on phones in certain regions where AT&T is expected to roll out its upcoming 5G network, which is scheduled for later this year and throughout 2020. Now it looks like the same 5G E indicator is showing up in iPhones too, according to MacRumors.

When the 5G E text first popped up, AT&T received criticism for misleading customers into thinking they were already connected to the next-gen network. Now that the indicator is expanding to iPhones, it looks like the company has no intention in backing down from its 5G E campaign.

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"Today, some iPhone and iPad users could start seeing our 5G Evolution indicator on their devices," said an AT&T spokesperson to CNET. "The indicator simply helps customers know when they are in an area where the 5G Evolution experience may be available."  

The fact that Apple is allowing AT&T to do this is also notable. The phone maker has hinted it is in no rush to make a 5G phone. By allowing this 5G E text to display on its phone implies that the company is content with users merely thinking they have a 5G-enabled iPhone when they really do not.

For more information on when to expect 5G phones from Apple, Samsung and others, check out CNET's roundup.

Apple did not immediately reply for a request to comment.