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Android 11 will label sub-6GHz networks “5G”, mmWave will be “5G+”, but “5Ge” is still LTE

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Google has updated the Features overview page for Android 11 and in it is the iconography that will be used to indicate whether the phone is connected to a 4G or 5G network. And as is tradition, these will probably cause confusion instead of clearing things up.

The “5Ge” label in particular is iffy – that is actually LTE Advanced Pro. Even though it promises impressive theoretical speeds of up to 3Gbps (with carrier aggregation), it is still just a successor to LTE Advanced and not true 5G.

AT&T tried to relabel its LTE Advanced network to “5G E” as far back as 2018, the icon even showed up on iPhones. That didn’t go well, there was even a lawsuit filed against the carrier.

True next gen connections – ones using 5G New Radio – will be labeled 5G and 5G+. That is not particularly clear either as these two are fairly different in terms of capabilities and limitations.

  • LTE – plain 4G
  • LTE+ – 4G with carrier aggregation
  • 5Ge – LTE Advanced Pro
  • 5G – NR, sub-6GHz
  • 5G+ – NR on millimeter-wave cellular bands

“5G” stands for the sub-6GHz flavor, which has great coverage but isn’t much faster than 4G with carrier aggregation, while “5G+” means mmWave, which can deliver speeds of several gigabits but is easily blocked by trees, rain and even your hand.


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