Android 11 will label sub-6GHz networks “5G”, mmWave will be


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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Brian Jones

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