The next big update for Google’s mobile operating system will provide some much-needed clarity on the type of 5G you’re getting from your service provider, by displaying a little icon on your home screen.
Service providers are being a little sneaky with their 5G marketing. AT&T in particular has come under fire for advertising a dressed-up version of 4G as “5G evolution.” The company has now been forced to discontinue using the terminology after an advertising board claimed that the phrase was misleading.
Android 11 won’t let providers get away with this kind of sneaky business, as the system will differentiate between the various network standards and list them clearly on your phone. The “5G” services will be listed as LTE, LTE+, 5Ge, 5G or 5G+. And only the last two in this list are actually true 5G.
Related: What is 5G?
LTE stands for long-term evolution and was originally used as a kind of shorthand to show when you’re 4G service wasn’t quite up to scratch. If you were using LTE, you had speeds that were better than 3G but not quite up to the standard of full-fat 4G.
The term is used more vaguely now. But if you’re using LTE, chances are you aren’t benefiting from the perks of mmWave technology.
Related: The best 5G phones
That technology is what really separates the 4G speeds from the big guns of 5G. It relies on a spectrum of virtually unused radio frequency, which means that it can access a greater bandwidth. In brief, it should make your downloads a lot of faster.
If the 5G+ icon pops up on your phone once you’ve upgraded to Android 11, then you know you’ve got the full whack of 5G benefits. Sadly anything below that isn’t relying on those mmWaves – and while it might be speedy, it’s not going to reach the heights of full-fat 5G.