Demystifying T-Mobile’s New “5G UC” Icon

tmobile 5G UC icon

With iOS 15 launching, there’s a new tweak for T-Mobile 5G users. Some customers have noticed a new “5G UC” icon in their iPhone status bars. This icon is good news for your iPhone 12 or newer, but it might confuse you. Here is what it all means.

Fast Data Speeds With with 5G UC, or “Ultra Capacity 5G”

T-Mobile’s president of technology, Neville Ray, explained what the new icon means. Some areas of T-Mobile’s 5G coverage have faster speeds than others. These coverage areas are known as having “Ultra Capacity 5G”.

T-Mobile's 5G coverage in a major city
This coverage map shows T-Mobile’s 5G network around Kansas City, Missouri. The darkest red areas are within the carrier’s 5G mmWave network.

As things stand right now, there are three different varieties of 5G cellular coverage: low-band, mid-band, and high-band mmWave. For T-Mobile, the bare 5G icon means you are in the company’s low-band network, also called 5G Extended Range. This is a slower network that reaches a broader area.

T-Mobile’s mid-band and high-band mmWave networks offer much faster data speeds. If you are connected to the mid-band or mmWave network, you will see the “5G UC” icon in your status bar.

Support for the “5G UC” icon has arrived on the iPhone 12, but T-Mobile says other devices will see it in a future software update.

T-Mobile isn’t alone in advertising different 5G networks. Verizon and AT&T do the same thing. Verizon customers see the carrier’s low band network with just a “5G” icon. In areas with mmWave coverage, they see a “5G UW” icon instead. With AT&T, it’s either “5G” for the slower network or “5G Plus” for mmWave.

These different labels can be confusing. However, they can also be useful. If you noticed that your data speeds are just fast as you are used to, you can just look at your status bar and see if maybe you are connected to the slower 5G networks instead of the faster one.

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