Guide to understanding iPhone status icons

There are a number of status icons on the iPhone, each of which provide information. This short overview will provide you with a guide to the common icons and some which are not as familiar.

Cell signal status icon

 

The cell signal icon displays your current cellular signal and the strength of the signal. You want to see more bars on this display, which means better service for making and receiving calls. If you are outside of the range of your wireless carrier, the bars are replaced with “No Service”.

Airplane mode status icon

 

When airplane mode is used when, you guessed it, you are using your iPhone when flying. The orange airplane mode icon indicates that the wireless capabilities, including Bluetooth are all disabled. In airplane mode, you cannot make or receive calls, or access the Internet. Don’t worry, Angry Birds works perfectly fine in airplane mode.

3G status icon

 

3G: This represents availability of the 3G network, either UMTS or EV-DO, dependent upon your carrier. When seeing the 3G status icon, you can browse the Internet at 3G speeds.

Edge icon

 

Edge: The ‘E’ icon means you are not connected to your GSM carriers 3G network, but instead the slower EDGE network.

GPRS

 

The o symbol indicates you are accessing a carriers GPRS or 1xRTT network. This will be in place of the 3G status icon and while you can connect to the Internet, expect slower speeds.

WiFi

 

The WiFi status icon is shown when you are connected to a WiFi network. Like the cell signal status icon, the more bars the better. The greater the number of bars indicates the greater the connection.

Personal Hotspot icon

 

If you are using a friend’s iPhone Personal Hotspot, you’ll see an icon that appearance mirrors two adjoined rings.

iTunes sync

 

Two arrows chasing each other in a circular fashion is the iTunes syncing icon. It means that you are syncing data between your device and iTunes on your Mac/PC.

Network activity

 

This icon is shown in various different places on your iPhone. When shown as a status, it means ‘network activity’. This can be used by third-party apps to show an active process.

Call forwarding icon

 

If you’ve set up call forward, the phone/arrow icon shows that your iPhone is currently forwarding calls.

VPN

 

The VPN icon is an indicator for when you are connected to a network using VPN (Virtual Private Network).

iPhone lock

 

The lock icon means that your iPhone is in a locked state. When you first power on your device, you’ll see the lock icon. When you ‘slide to unlock’, the lock icon is removed, since your iPhone is no longer locked.

TTY

 

A phone atop of seven small dots means that it is set to work with TTY. TTY, also known as Text Telephone Device or Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD), is a special device required at both ends of the conversation that enables people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired to use the telephone to communicate. TTY works by allowing people to type messages back and forth to one another instead of talking and listening.

The guide to understanding iPhone status icons is part of our new continuing series of iPhone How-To guides, tips and basics.

Written By

Christopher Meinck is the Founder and Editorial Director at everythingiCafe. You can also find him co-hosting on everythingiCafe :the show. His smartphone obsession started with the Handspring Treo 180. While the phones have changed, the obsession continues. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.

Comments

  1. says

    I got a few you might add

    Clock icon: shown when one or more alarms are turned on in the Clock app.

    Bluetooth icon: shown when your Bluetooth radio is active. Grey when no devices are connected. Lit (blue or white, depending on status bar) when one or more devices are connected.

    Purple arrow pointing northeast: GPS and/or cell tower and/or wifi-based location services are active. See Settings -> Location Services

    Blue arrow pointing right: Something is playing, e.g. iPod music or background audio

    Telephone receiver with 7 zig zag dots under it: Teletype support is enabled. Settings -> Phone -> TTY

    Battery icon: No icon inside of the battery icon indicates, naturally, no charging source is connected. A lightning bolt inside the icon indicates your phone is charging the battery. When it changes to a plug, it is either finished charging (100%) or has decided to not charge or stop charging due to heat, incompatible charger, or self discharge. Self discharge is normal – if the device has been on the charger a long time, it will let the battery discharge a bit as a matter of capacity maintenance.

  2. says

    Oh, and the padlock with the line around it, that’s orientation lock. On iPad that might be the side switch. On an iPhone, double click home button and swipe to the right (scroll left). The button to the left of the audio controls will lock/unlock orientation

  3. Johnson Chen says

    There’s this little key shaped thing pointing downwards that appears sometimes, any ideas as to what it is..? I dissappears after I started using my iPhone or when I start deleting apps in my multitasking bar..

  4. Pat Gavan-Gordon says

    I just got a new iphone 3gs and cannot find Bluetooth under settings/genera. It only show VPN, where Bluetooth is on the you tube video showing the iphone 3gs. Can you help me find where I can find Bluetooth on my 3gs so I can set it up?

  5. says

    I got a symbol I had never seen before. It looked like a cigarette with a small puff of smoke coming out. Turns out it is the battery of my bluetooth, and it is telling me how much charge is left on my bluetooth headset.

    • Billy says

      That’s what I was trying to figure out. Thanks. It was driving me crazy wondering what it was for.

  6. Ashley says

    I just recently have a symbol on the upper left side of my iPhone that looks like the batman symbol. What does that mean?

        • Tone says

          Screen orientation is locked. Double click home button and swipe to the right. At the far left you’ll see the orientation button. You can lock and unlock it.

          • cristina Lynn says

            I must be crazy but I can not seem to find the lock and unlock after I double click and swipe to the right

        • says

          In iOS 6, slide to unlock your iPhone. Double-click on the home button. At the bottom, you’ll see open apps. Swipe your finger from left to right. You’ll see your Music controls. The icon to the left with a lock in the middle is to lock orientation. In iOS 7, you can lock orientation using Control Center. Swipe up from any screen to open Control Center. At the top, you’ll see icons for Airplane mode, WiFi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb and finally Orientation lock.

          Hope this helps!

  7. janelle fennel says

    For the past few days my iPhone 4 is showing only one or two bars in my connection to my Verizon cell service while in my home. I have had this phone and Verizon for two years and have never had this problem before, however, my son recently upgraded software on my phone…. would this have anything to do with it, or is this a Verizon issue?

    • says

      If it was an Apple software update, it should have no impact on your cell signal. I’d recommend power cycling your iPhone. Hold the power button and slide to power off. Turn on your iPhone and see if the signal improves.

  8. Colleen Hirsch says

    I have 1 that have come out of nowhere land.
    The 1st one looks like an arrow head on the top right by the battery icon.
    The 2nd one just showed up today & in the same area, but was a triangle.
    Anyone have any clues?!

  9. Andrea Scholz says

    I have a quarter crescent shape on the left side of the clock…can’t workout what this might be…..any clues?

  10. sANDY says

    Isn’t there just a page somewhere that shows all of the icons on an iPhone with an explanation of what they are next to the photo? HELP!

    • says

      Right now, we just have this article on status icons. We’ll definitely consider a new article that covers all of the various icons. Thanks for your feedback. If you have specific questions, our help forums are an excellent place to find free expert advice.

  11. Diana says

    I have a lock with a circle ending in an arrow at top right next to the percentage icon and i have an iphone .

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