iPhone Icons: A Guide to the Most Common iPhone Symbols & Their Meanings

Guide to the Most Common iPhone Status Icons

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

If you've ever wondered what some of the symbols on the top of your iPhone screen (in the status bar) or in the Control Center are trying to tell you, then you've come to the right spot. Apple uses iPad and iPhone status icons and symbols to show a lot of information in a very small space on screen. Some iPhone icons are more commonly known, such as the Wi-Fi icon and Bluetooth icon; but some, like the Orientation Lock icon, mystify many. It’s good to know what every iPad and iPhone icon means, so you can utilize their features or make sure at a glance that they’re turned on or off. These status icons are the same for every iPhone generation, whether you have an older iPhone 8, a newer iPhone 11, or the very latest iPhone. Here’s your guide to the most common iPad and iPhone status icons.

Related: iPad Multitasking: The Complete Guide to Split Screen, Slide Over & Picture in Picture (Updated for 2020)

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Home Screen Icons in the Status Bar (Icons at the Top of Your iPhone Display)

iPhone Status Bar Icons

Let’s start at the top of the Home Screen, in the status bar. These iPhone icons can also be seen within apps, but instead of appearing white, they may appear black.

If you have an iPhone X, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro, or 11 Pro Max, not all these icons will appear at the top of your display the way they do on earlier iPhones. To see your Home Screen icons on all models of the iPhone X and later:

  1. Touch and drag slightly down on the spot just underneath the three icons at the top-right corner of your display.
  2. This will reveal hidden icons, as well as the battery-charge percentage. Read on to learn what these icons represent.

What Does It Mean When You See Blue, Green, or Red in the Status Bar?

blue, green, red bubble in the status bar

If you own an iPhone X or later, you may have noticed that sometimes there's a colored bubble behind the time. So, what do these colors mean? If you see a blue bubble it can mean that an app is currently using your location, your iPhone is Screen Mirroring, or your phone is providing a Personal Hotspot to another device. The bubble is green when you're on a call. The bubble is red when your iPhone is recording sound or your screen. 

Recording Indicator - The Orange Dot

orange dot recording indicator at top of iphone screen

Starting with iOS 14, you'll see a small, green or orange dot in the upper-right corner of your display.

  • The orange dot means an app is using your microphone.
  • The green dot means an app is using your iPhone's camera or camera and microphone. 

Wi-Fi Symbol 

The Wi-Fi icon at the top of your screen represents your internet connection. When present, it means your Wi-Fi is turned on and connected. It also shows you how strong your Wi-Fi connection is by how many bars are filled, one bar being the weakest signal and three being the strongest.

Data Type - LTE Symbol

If your Wi-Fi is turned off or you’re out of range, you might instead see LTE instead of the Wi-Fi icon. This signifies that your cellphone carrier’s network is available and you can connect to the internet using your data. You might also see 3G or 4G, which represents the same, although 4G offers faster data speeds than 3G.

Cellular Connection Strength 

The four bars on the upper left corner represent your cellular connection strength. If all the bars are filled white, you have a very strong connection. If only one bar is white, your internet will be extremely slow, if it works at all.

Cell Phone Carrier Name 

Depending on the length of your carrier's name, you will either the carrier name or an abbreviation of that name between the cellular strength and data type icons.

Battery Charge Indicator 

On the top right of your iPhone's Home screen you’ll see the battery icon. The fuller the battery icon is on your screen, the more battery life your iPhone has. Many people wonder why their iPhone battery icon is yellow or another color. This is what the different battery icon colors mean:

  • White battery icon: Indicates battery status when your iPhone is unplugged
  • Yellow battery icon: Indicates Low Power Mode is enabled.
  • Red battery icon: Indicates that your iPhone's battery has less than a 20% charge.
  • Green battery icon: If the battery icon is green and there is a white lightning bolt, then your iPhone is charging.

Headphones Icon

When you are connected to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, earbuds, or a speaker, then the headphones icon will appear to the left of your battery. You'll see a vertical battery icon as well. This icon represents the battery life of your headset, speaker, or earbuds.

Hotspot Icon

The hotspot icon looks like two links in a chain. If your iPhone is connected to the internet via the Personal Hotspot of another iOS device. then this device appears to the right of your carrier instead of the data type or Wi-Fi icons.

Alarm Icon

Next to the Location Services symbol (when on) you’ll see a small clock icon. If present, that means you have an alarm set in the Clock app. If not present, your alarm is turned off. This is a quick way to double check whether your alarm is set for the next morning.

Location Services Icon 

When an app is using your location, you will see this icon (an arrow pointing up at a diagonal) on the top right of your screen. A solid Location Services icon indicates that a website or app is currently tracking where you are located using Location Services. A hollow icon means that your location may be shared under certain conditions. Location Services is used in apps such as Maps to give you directions, or in Safari when looking for something nearby.


iPad & iPhone Control Center Icons

Access the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of your screen if you have an iPhone 8 or earlier, or down from the upper right corner of your screen if you have an iPhone without a Home button. Some of the icons in the Control Center are the same for every iPhone, but the icons in the bottom of the Control Center are determined by how you choose to customize your Control Center. You can add or take away Low Power Mode, the Flashlight, the Calculator, Voice Memos, and more. Some of the latest icons you can add, with iOS 14 and later, include Sleep Mode (indicated by a bed icon), and Sound Recognition, indicated by a sound wave icon. 

add sleep mode and sound recognition to control center

Airplane Mode Icon

In the upper-left network settings card of the Control Center, to the very left, is an airplane symbol. When highlighted orange, your cellular connection is turned off, and calls and texts will not be received. This function is intended for exactly what the picture suggests—being on an airplane. However, you can also use it to save battery life if your iPhone is running dangerously low. Just remember that you won’t receive any cellular alls or messages when this mode is turned on, though you can turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or both off or back on by tapping the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth icons in the same network settings card. 


Cellular Data Icon 

To the right of the Airplane Mode icon is the Cellular Data icon. If this icon is highlighted green, it means your iPhone can use cellular data. 


Wi-Fi Icon

Below Airplane Mode is another Wi-Fi icon. When highlighted blue, it means your Wi-Fi is turned on. It does not necessarily mean that you are connected to a network, though. You can quickly turn Wi-Fi on or off by tapping this icon.

Bluetooth Icon

To the right of the Wi-Fi icon is a Bluetooth icon. When highlighted blue, it means your Bluetooth is on. However, it does not mean you are connected to a device, but that your iPhone is available to pair with a device through the Settings app. You can quickly turn Bluetooth on or off by tapping the Bluetooth icon in Control Center.

Do Not Disturb Icon

The moon icon in Control Center represents Do Not Disturb mode. When highlighted, the background is white and the crescent moon is purple. This means that Do Not Disturb is turned on. Do Not Disturb silences your iPhone and turns off vibrate. You will still receive calls, messages, and notifications but you won’t be "disturbed" by them. This is an ideal mode for working, going to the theater, libraries, and other places where you don’t want your phone to make noise. You can easily turn Do Not Disturb on or off by tapping this icon in Control Center. When Do Not Disturb is turned on then the icon will also appear on the Home screen.

Orientation Lock Icon

Underneath the Wi-Fi icon there is a lock icon with a circle around it. When the background turns white and the lock and arrow turn red, this means you’ve turned the Portrait Orientation Lock on. That means your screen will not turn on its side when you turn your iPhone on its side. The iPhone automatically flips the screen orientation between landscape and portrait to fit the way you’re viewing it, but if you want to keep it from doing that for any reason, tap this icon to turn on Orientation Lock. When Orientation Lock is turned on, the icon will also appear on the Home screen.

Bonus Controls: Network Settings Icons

When you touch and hold any of the four icons in the network settings card of the Control Center, a menu pops up allowing you to turn off or on not just Airplane Mode, but also Cellular Data, Wi-Fi, AirDrop, Bluetooth, and your Personal Hotspot.

Check out our free Tip of the Day for more great Apple device tutorials. 

Top Image Credit: Miss Ty / Shutterstock

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Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

Conner Carey's writing can be found at conpoet.com. She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.