What Is 5G UC On iPhone & Android? Complete Guide…



The iPhone can display what type of 5G service you are getting. Yep, there are different types, including 5G UC.


Remember the days of the 5G hype train where people thought they would be downloading a full 4K movie in seconds while simultaneously uploading photos to the cloud and surfing the web?

Yeah, that really hasn’t played out. Sure, 5G is faster than 4G, but the sunny uplands promised up in marketing pitches haven’t really arrived. To be honest, most people probably can’t tell the difference between 4G speeds and 5G speeds in their average daily smartphone use.

The only way most people can tell they are on 5G over 4G is when they see the little “5G” or “4G” icon in their iPhone’s status bar.

But what’s interesting – and slightly confusing – is that some people may not see a standard “5G” status icon. They may see an icon that says “5GUC”, “5G+”, or “5GUW”.

But just what do all these different 5G status icons mean?

What Is 5G UC On iPhone & Android? Complete Guide...
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5G Is Not Created Equal 

Some people don’t know this, but there are actually different types of 5G – many of them, in fact. The two most common types are what are called 5G mmWave and 5G sub-6 (well, get to the weird status icons in a moment).

People then often want to know if 5G mmWave or 5G sub-6 is better – but that’s not the right question to ask because each has its benefits and drawbacks.

Let’s start with 5G mmWave: this version of 5G is the fastest. It uses high frequency radio waves to transmit data and operates in bands up to 30-40GHz. However, the drawback is these mmwaves are short range – they aren’t great at traveling long distances.

5G sub-6, which stands for sub-6GHz, are lower frequency radio waves that transmit data at 6GHz or lower. 5G sub-6 isn’t as speedy as 5G mmWave, but the range is much better.

See? You can’t really compare apples to apple here. What’s better depends on where you are and what you need at the moment.

What Is 5G UC?

Now, what about if you see 5G UC on your iPhone status bar?

That indicator stands for 5G Ultra Capacity and is a T-mobile branding – not a technical type of 5G. If you see the 5G UC icon on your iPhone it means you are likely getting a 5G mmWave connection through T-mobile at the moment. If you see just the “5G” icon, you are likely on the sub-6 5G at the moment.

5G UC Meaning

5G UC is T-Mobile’s newly rolled out “Ultra Capacity” 5G network; this network uses both mid-band or millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G. It is currently available in the USA on compatible phones, including Apple’s iPhones and a slew of Android phones.

The benefit of 5G UC is that it offers the best balance between speed and coverage, combining the best aspects of the US’ current 5G infrastructure into one standard which, when combined, means faster, more reliable 5G connections on your phone.

Prior to its commercial release, the mid-band (C-band) was used by the military. 5G UC has only been available commercially for a few years and is quickly becoming very popular with carriers – both Verizon and T-Mobile have their own versions now too.

5G+ & 5G UW – What’s The Difference?

Not to be outdone, other networks have branded their mmWave 5G with unique status indicators, too.

If you see 5G+ you are likely on AT&T’s 5G mmWave spectrum at the moment. If you see 5G UW, you are likely on Verizon’s “Ultra Wideband” spectrum at the moment.

But just know that 5G UW, 5G UC, and 5G+ indicators are superior to 5G indicators – at least for short range, fast speeds. 

What iPhones Can 5G+, 5G UC & 5G UW Appear On?

You’ll only see these status icons if you are on certain 5G networks and your iPhone is compatible. Here’s a list of all the current iPhone models that are compatible with 5G UC, 5G+, and 5G UW:

Michael Grothaus

Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.
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