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AT&T misleads customers by updating phones with fake 5G icon

AT&T misleads customers by updating phones with fake 5G icon


These phones don’t connect to 5G networks

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AT&T has updated three smartphones from Samsung and LG to make them show 5G connectivity logos, even though none of them are capable of connecting to 5G networks.

Now, when the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, LG V30, or LG V40 are connected to portions of AT&T’s LTE network that have received some speed-boosting updates, they’ll show an icon that says “5G E” instead of “LTE.”

That “E” in the “5G” logo is supposed to tip you off that this isn’t real 5G — just some marketing nonsense. But there’s no way of knowing that just from looking at the logo. The “E” is smaller than the rest of the icon. And even if you do learn that “5G E” stands for “5G Evolution,” it isn’t immediately clear what that means.

Coming to more devices this spring

To win the 5G marketing wars, AT&T has decided to brand portions of its LTE network as “5G Evolution.” These portions of AT&T’s network have received speed-boosting upgrades and should be faster than typical LTE, but AT&T isn’t doing anything that other carriers haven’t already implemented. And these are still, by definition, LTE technologies — not 5G ones. So this is exclusively about marketing, not about improving your phone.

The speeds on this network aren’t even that impressive. AT&T says 5G E connectivity will reach average real-world speeds of around 40Mbps. That’s not out of line with what you’d get in a city on AT&T or other major carriers today.

AT&T plans to add the 5G E icon to more phones this spring, but it didn’t immediately say which ones. AT&T offers a total of 17 devices right now can take advantage of “5G E” technologies, and it says its “5G E” network will be available in 400 markets within “the coming days.”