What do the coverage symbols on my phone mean?

A quick reference guide to network coverage symbols

From time to time you may see Onside's offline functionality kicking in, meaning your phone doesn't have enough signal for our app to communicate with our server.

A lot has changed since data usage became commonplace on our phones, and it can be a bit hard to keep up with what it all means and what you should expect from your phone.

We recommend 3G coverage or better for using the Onside app.

All the network coverage symbols

In descending order, from oldest and slowest to newest and fastest, we've put together this quick guide to the symbols. The icons with the white arrows indicate data is transmitting. 


2G Data not transmitting (1)2G (GSM) was really the first step in having data on mobile device. It's the slowest signal you can have, and was phased out by all networks in NZ except Vodafone, which expects to do so in the next 4 years.

G data

G (GPRS) sometimes known as "2.5G" is a best-effort service, with speed and latency dependant on the number of other users sharing the service while you are.

E Data not transmitting

E (Edge) is faster than G network speeds, but you'll still struggle to browse most websites, use applications (including Onside) or watch YouTube videos.

3G signal

3G (UMTS) was the first network that was fast enough to support mobile internet browsing as we know it today, fast enough for streaming music and some videos. It's probably the most well-known of all the mobile internet networks

H signal
H (HSPA) can comfortably handle YouTube videos, Spotify streaming, web browsing, and other app usage. It is not good enough, however, to support movie downloads.

H+ signal

H+ (HSPA+), as the name implies, is a improved version of HSPA. With its speed increase, movie downloads are much faster.4G signal


4G (LTE) Should be as fast as your wifi connection at home if you have fibre internet. Good quality video streaming shouldn't buffer and nothing you do in your day to day smartphone use should be affected.

4G+ signal

4G+ (LTE) removes 95% of any speed-related limitations a mobile user could have. You should be able to comfortably stream a high definition movie or hotspot data without a noticeable drop in speed.

5G signal

5G, the latest and greatest. You would have no doubt heard about this new standard recently. Both Spark and Vodafone have started building their 5G network, but it comes at a premium for now. This is the fastest mobile connection currently available. Potentially up to 10x faster that 4G+.

What can Onside do offline?

The Onside app can still operate offline, but there are some limitations. Click here to find out more.

If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to call us on 0800 Onside or email help@onside.co.nz.