What signal symbols mean

What do G, E, H+, 3G and 4G mean on your phone’s signal bar?

At the top of your phone’s screen you might have seen letters and numbers like G, H+ and 4G. These tell you the speed of internet connection your phone is currently receiving. Don’t confuse them with Wi-Fi though. That only works in special places like offices and homes.

Here’s a little summary to get you up to speed.


The small radar symbol means you’re connected to Wi-Fi. This is normally found in your house, at work or in coffee shops. It’s very fast and great for all types of internet activities, but only works when you’re in range of a Wi-Fi connection.


G is the slowest and oldest internet connection speed. It stands for GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), and because of the slow data rate it’s only useful for sending a few messages on WhatsApp.


E is a little faster than G, but still too slow to look at websites or stream music effectively. It stands for EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution).


With 3G, internet becomes more practical. Web browsers load up fairly quickly and music streaming is possible, although it’s not really fast enough for video streaming or downloading.


H is a faster form of 3G. Speeds make music streaming more reliable, but you’ll need lots of patience if you want to download a movie. Streaming anything longer than a few minutes might also take a lot of time. H is short for HSDPA, which stands for High-Speed Downlink Packet Access.


The next step up from H, but still not as fast as a 4G connection by quite a way. Downloads are more practical and video streaming is much more reliable. Reception for H+ is more widely spread than 4G right now. H+ is short for HSDPA+.


4G or Long Term Evolution is by far the fastest connection, and is almost as fast as the Wi-Fi connection at your home or office. It’s suitable for all internet activities like video streaming and movie downloading, video calls and so on.