Think you have a 5G phone? Not yet…


With all the marketing centered around cell phones and their capabilities, now’s a good a time to be reminded that any claims of 5G phones right now are just that — claims.

With the cell phone industry on the cusp of another generation of wireless technology, consumers are about to get inundated with claims of 5G-capable devices. In that department, some cell phone providers may be getting a little too eager.

AT&T and ‘5G Evolution’

Case in point: AT&T recently began selling some Android smartphones labeled as “5G E” or “5G Evolution.” Carriers have been promising that 5G technology will mean better service & connectivity and stronger networks.

The problem with AT&T’s boast is that 5G E is basically just spruced-up 4G technology. Tech insiders have said that the move is an attempt by AT&T to rebrand its LTE offerings as 5G E.

AT&T’s rivals were swift to pounce on the company’s alleged deception.

John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile, went on a Twitter rant about the incident, saying that “AT&T should be ashamed of themselves! Slapping ‘5G e’ on something that is actually LTE is like putting an extra 0 on a $10 bill and calling it $100 bill!!”

Verizon, for its part, bought a full-page ad in the New York Times as well as posted on its website about the perceived chicanery. Although it doesn’t name AT&T, Verizon’s target is clear: ” We’re calling on the broad wireless industry to commit to labeling something 5G only if new device hardware is connecting to the network using new radio technology to deliver new capabilities. Verizon is making this commitment today: We won’t take an old phone and just change the software to turn the 4 in the status bar into a 5.”

Here’s the truth about 5G phones

Consumers shopping for new phones need to know this: None of the major carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc. — have 5G capability on the phones they sell.

It’s true that Verizon rolled out a 5G service in October 2018 in a handful of markets: Indianapolis, Houston, Los Angeles and Sacramento. But that’s home service, not mobile.

What’s with all these Gs?

Wireless generations bring new advances in technology that the industry quickly adopts wholesale. When it comes to wireless networks, no major carrier has any more than a marginal advantage over the others.


After 2G devices became popular over the analog first generation, each subsequent generation (3G or 4G) built upon the former and delivered faster, more reliable service — sometimes as much as 10 times faster than the previous iteration.

The apex of mobile network technology right now is 4G LTE or “fourth-generation long term evolution.” To fully take advantage of the technology, though, you must have a 4G LTE device in an area with 4G LTE service. It’s going to be the same way with 5G.

How to tell what G(eneration) your device is

Despite what the carriers market to you, there’s a way to tell what wireless network generation your device is capable of: On your phone’s homescreen you should see the LTE, 4G or 3G icon around the signal strength area.

If you don’t see it, turn off your Wi-Fi and use your cell phone’s data.

Another option is to look in settings under network. A third method is to go to and look up your phone’s specs.

If you’re in the market for a new plan, here are the best cell phone plans out there right now.

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