What do 1X, E, 3G, 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G mean?

The different cellular networks explained.

These abbreviations represent the different types of networks that the cellular carriers offer. Your phone can only connect to one network at a time, so whichever of these symbols that you see on the screen of your phone, that's the network you're currently using.

Here is an explanation of each network type:

  • 1X has traditionally indicated a voice-only connection.
  • E (Edge) or 3G are two earlier generations of cellular data.  Someone connected to one of these technologies can expect internet connectivity but may experience issues streaming audio or video.
  • 4G (HSPA+) is an enhanced version of 3G that released to select carriers to increase data-speed (backhaul) using the same frequency space that 3G has occupied.
  • 4G LTE is the most widespread network currently.  Having a 4G LTE connection on your phone most likely indicates the capability to connect to the internet and stream HD audio or video.
  • 5G is the newest cellular generation and is known for providing extremely fast data speeds and very low latency, which will enable new technologies, like remote surgeries, that have never before been possible.