What Do All Those Funny Little Icons That Appear On My Phone Mean?

February 6, 2014 at 9:37 am 2 comments

The international symbol for disco dancing?

The international symbol for “Disco dancing here”?

Every minute there is a person somewhere in the world buying a smartphone for the very first time. Unfortunately, that little booklet that comes with the phone assumes you have used these phones before, leaving out a lot of stuff that “newbies” need to know.

For example, how about what those tiny little icons that appear across the top your phone’s screen mean?  Apple iPhones tend to have the most intuitive icons while other phone makers, like Samsung, make their icons so universal that no one in the universe knows what the picture is suppose to represent!

Today, I shall show you some of the icons found on many cell phones, and explain what each icon means. Your icons may look different, depending on your phone or even your cellular carrier, but this will give you the general idea.  If you find an icon that you want to know what it is, let me know!

Calling Notification Icons:

01Phone call is in progress. I find this to be a pretty useless icon but some manufacturers have it anyway.  Because if you’re on the phone, you already know a call is in progress!

02Call is on Hold. This is different from Muting a call.


0304Call is Muted. You can hear them, but they can’t hear you. Quite useful if you like to make calls sitting on the toilet.

05Speakerphone is on.


06You missed a phone call. Don’t worry–that’s why you have Voice Mail.


0vmNew Voice Mail. See, when the call is important, they leave you a message. Just like the old answering machines.

0fwdCall Forwarding is turned on.


0dndDo not disturb. Incoming calls go straight to your Voice Mailbox.


0ttySuccessful connection to a TTY machine. For the hearing-impaired.


Signal Icons (Receive & Transmit)

0airplAirplane Mode is on.  Although airlines don’t honor “Airplane Mode” anymore, this means all transmitting and receiving signals to your phone are off while the phone can be used for doing other stuff.

0sig-i0sig-aCell signal strength. Normally has up to 5 bars or dots to indicate full strength. The fewer the bars, the weaker the signal to your phone.

0nosigNo cell signal.


0roamPhone is Roaming. When you see this, you may get charged extra because calls are coming outside of your network.  Check with your cell phone provider to verify.

04gConnected to a 4G phone network. Also known as UTMS, HSDPA, HSPA, or LTE network.

03gConnected to a 3G phone network. Also known as UMTS and EV-DO networks.

0EConnected to an EDGE network.


Signal Icons (Data Networks)

0wiviUsing (wireless) Wi-Fi instead of cellular for data access. Like cell signal strength, the more bars the stronger the wireless signal is.

0wifiPwdCould find a wireless connection, but not able to connect. Usually means a password is needed to connect.

0wifipeerPhone is connected to another Wi-Fi device (like a wireless printer). This is known as a peer-to-peer or an ad hoc Wi-Fi connection.

0BTBluetooth is turned on.


0BTpairedThe phone is connected (or paired) to a Bluetooth device. This can be a Bluetooth headset, speaker, keyboard, or mouse, to name a few.

0wifi-ip 0wifiHotsPhone is being used as a “Hot Spot”. This for other phones to connect to the Internet by using your phone like a mini Wi-Fi station.

Tracking icons

0gpsGPS (Global Positioning System) is on. Yes, Big Brother knows where you are.


0locateLocator service is in use. An Application (or “App” or short) on your phone is using your GPS to find where you are located. Typical apps that use this are map and driving directions.

Power Notifications

0battBattery charge indicator.


0battchgBattery is charging. The phone is connected to an AC outlet for charging the battery.


0battLoBattery is low. Recharge as soon as possible.


Mail & Messages

0mailNew text message.  But don’t read these while you’re driving!


0emailmsgNew e-mail.


0gmail  New Google Mail. Yes, Google feels it’s mail is special than other e-mail.


0cal  Calendar event indicator. The number tells you the number of events.


Other Icons

0vibPhone’s ringer is off and vibrator is turned on. Also known as courtesy mode.


0syncPhone’s information is being synchronized. This can be synchronizing to your iTunes library on a computer or backing up your address book on the Cloud

0lockScreen Orientation is locked in place.


0alarmAlarm is set. 


0suitcaseNew updates are available for downloading. Just like updating your computer.


0googleplayApp(s) from Google’s online store have been downloaded (Android phones only)

0downldDownloading of a file or app is in progress.


0upldSending (or uploading) a file.


0usbConnected by a USB cable (in this case the “3.0” means connected to a high-speed USB connection.

~ “CC”, The Computer Cat


Entry filed under: computer help, electronics, grandparents, newbie, newbies, phone, seniors, Technology, texting. Tags: , , , .

Buying Your First Computer Free texting from your computer!

2 Comments Add your own

  • Thanks on your marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will ensure that I
    bookmark your blog and may come back later in life. I want to encourage you
    to ultimately continue your great job, have a nice evening!


    • 2. cc  |  February 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Thank you for the “sardine”, Humberto. I encourage everyone who has a computer question they want answered in a non-geeky way to send them to me.
      ~ “CC”, The Computer Cat



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