What Does E Mean on My Phone? Decoding Mobile Data Symbols

Published: 24 June 2024

Have you ever looked at your phone and wondered what all those little symbols at the top mean? If you’ve ever asked yourself, "What does E mean on my phone,” you’ve come to the right place. Let's discover what these symbols mean and why they’re something to pay attention to.

Understanding mobile data symbols

When we use our phones to browse the internet, watch videos, or play games online, we're using something called mobile data. The symbols you see tell us about the speed of our mobile data. Here's what each one means:


‘1G’ stands for first generation. This is the slowest type of mobile data, and you'll only see this symbol if you have an extremely old phone or are in a remote area with very limited coverage. As the pioneering wireless cellular technology, 1G supported voice-only calls. However, it relied on analog technology, resulting in drawbacks such as limited battery life, compromised voice quality, inadequate security, and frequent call drops.


‘2G’ stands for the second generation, and it’s one of the slowest mobile data speeds. It was first introduced in 1991 and offered basic internet access, such as sending text messages or emails. Today, it's mostly used in rural areas or developing countries.


'E' stands for EDGE, which simply means you have a slow internet connection. It's not the fastest, but it gets the job done for basic tasks. E was the most common symbol for mobile data before 3G came along. It’s even called 2.5G!


'3G' stands for third generation, and it's a step up from E in terms of speed. With this symbol, you can do more than just basic tasks like sending messages and checking emails. You can also browse websites and download files, but not as quickly as with 4G or LTE.


'4G' stands for fourth generation, and it's a significant improvement from 3G. This symbol means you can stream videos and video chat smoothly without lag or buffering. It's also faster than 3G when it comes to downloading large files.


LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and it's the fastest data connection currently available on most phones. It's an upgraded version of 4G with even faster speeds and lower latency (the time it takes for a device to communicate with the internet).


'5G' stands for the fifth generation, and it's the latest and greatest mobile data technology. With this symbol, you can enjoy lightning-fast internet speeds and near-instant response times. However, 5G is not yet available everywhere, so most people will see the other symbols mentioned above.

These symbols represent different speeds and technologies for using the internet on your phone. They can vary depending on your phone, carrier, and location.

What does E mean on my phone?

Based on the information discussed, you might have already gathered that EDGE is much slower than newer technologies like 4G and 5G. While 4G and 5G let you stream videos without waiting, EDGE might make you wait a bit to load a webpage or a video. 

But you need to know that all these technologies are faster than the old dial-up connection from the 90s. So, if you're seeing the 'E' symbol on your phone, don't worry - it still means you have access to the internet.

Situations in which an EDGE network might still be in use

Some places might still use EDGE because they don't have the newer networks set up yet. It's also used as a backup when faster networks aren't available. 

EDGE is also used in rural areas where it's not practical or economical to upgrade to newer technologies yet. So, if you're traveling through a remote area and see the 'E' symbol on your phone, you now know why.

Reasons 'E' appears on your phone

Besides location, there are other reasons why you might see the 'E' symbol on your phone. One reason could be that your phone is set to only use 3G or EDGE networks to conserve battery life. You can change this in your settings if you want to take advantage of faster speeds when available. 

Your phone might also only support 3G or EDGE networks because it's an older model. If you have an older phone and want faster internet speeds, consider upgrading to a newer device.

Impact on mobile experience

You already know that being on an EDGE network means browsing the web or streaming music and videos will be slower. But what you might not know is that it also has an impact on call quality. 

Since EDGE uses up more of the phone's resources to maintain a data connection, making and receiving calls can be affected, which means that you may experience disturbances or even dropped calls during a call.

EDGE's limitations also make it challenging to use apps that require a stable and fast network connection. The good news is that it's not all bad. 

Besides the drawbacks mentioned, EDGE can still provide a good enough experience for basic tasks like messaging and email. This can be especially useful if you're trying to conserve data or your phone's battery life.

What to do when stuck on an EDGE network

Sometimes, it might feel like you're stuck in slow motion when your phone displays the 'E' symbol. But don't worry! There are tips and tricks you can use to make the most out of this slower connection or get past it. Let's talk about what you can do to have a better experience.

Making the most out of EDGE

  1. Limit data usage: Stick to basic tasks like sending emails or browsing text-heavy websites. You can also turn off automatic app updates and only download or stream media when connected to a faster network.
  2. Manage your apps: Close apps you're not using to make sure they're not slowing down your connection. You can also use data-saving modes on specific apps to minimize their data usage.
  3. Boost signal strength: If you're in an area with a weak signal, your phone might switch to EDGE. To improve the signal, try moving closer to a window or going to an area with higher elevation.

Troubleshooting steps to connect to faster networks

If you're tired of seeing the 'E' symbol and want to get on a faster network, try these troubleshooting steps:

Restart your phone: 

Sometimes, you only need a good old restart to connect to a faster network. You can also try toggling your airplane mode on and off.

Check network settings: 

Make sure you have mobile data turned on in your phone's settings and that it's set to connect automatically to faster networks when available.

Switch to eSIMs (and Truely):

If your current carrier doesn't offer 4G or LTE in your area, consider switching to one that does. Even better, consider using an eSIM. 

Providers like Truely eSIM offer affordable plans with access to faster networks. Truely eSIM also has a wide network coverage, so you'll likely get better speeds.

Additionally, they offer the convenience of using an eSIM, which allows you to switch carriers and plans without purchasing a new physical SIM card. Not to mention, eSIM technology is also more sustainable for the environment.

By following these steps, you can get off the 'E' network and onto a faster one for a better mobile experience. Just remember to always check your phone's network settings and carrier coverage in your area.

Wrapping up

The 'E' on your phone stands for EDGE, an older type of mobile data technology. While it's not as fast as 4G or 5G, it's a sign of how far mobile technology has come. Understanding these symbols can help you know what to expect from your mobile experience and what steps you can take if you're not getting the speed you need.

You can also consider switching to an eSIM provider like Truely eSIM for affordable plans and access to faster networks. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of what 'E' means on your phone and how it impacts your internet connection.

Frequently asked questions

Why is my phone showing an ‘E’?

Your phone is showing an E because it's connected to an EDGE network, which is a slower type of mobile data connection. This could be due to your location or your phone's settings.

How do I change ‘E’ to 4G?

To change E to 4G, make sure your phone's mobile data is turned on and set to automatically connect to faster networks. If that doesn't work, try restarting your phone or switching carriers. You should also consider the age and model of your phone, as older models may not support 4G networks.

Is it worth upgrading to a phone with 5G?

If you use your phone for data-heavy tasks like streaming videos or playing online games, it may be worth upgrading to a phone with 5G. However, if you mainly use your phone for basic tasks like messaging and email, then an older model on 4G or LTE should suffice.

Will older phones stop working when 5G becomes more common?

No, older phones will still be able to function, but they may not have access to 5G networks. They will continue to use the available networks at the time of their release, such as 4G or LTE.