iPhone Icons: A Guide to the Most Common iPhone Symbols & Their Meanings (2019)

Guide to the Most Common iPhone Status Icons

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

The iPhone uses status icons to show a lot of information in a very small space on the screen. If you've ever wondered what some of the symbols on the top of your iPhone are trying to tell you, then you've come to the right spot. Some iPhone icons are more commonly known, such as the Wi-Fi signal icon, but some, like the Orientation Lock icon, mystify many. It’s good to know what all the iPhone icons mean so you can utilize their features or make sure at a glance that they’re turned on or off. Here’s your guide to the most common iPhone status icons.

Related: What Is HDR and How to Use It on iPhone: Everything You Need to Know

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Home Screen Icons:

Let’s start on the Home Screen. These icons can also be seen within apps, but instead of appearing white, they will appear black.

If you have an iPhone X, XS, or XS 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:

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

Wi-Fi: The Wi-Fi signal at the top 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: 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 three bars on the upper left corner represent your cellular connection’s 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.

  • Carriers 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 Life: 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. When your iPhone is unplugged, this icon will be white. As your battery goes down throughout the day, it will eventually turn yellow, then red, which represents a low battery. If the battery icon is green and there is a white lightning bolt then your iPhone is charging.

  • Headphones: 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: If your iPhone is connected to another iOS device via your Personal Hotspot, then this device appears to the right of your carrier instead of the data type or wifi icons.

  • Alarm: Next to the Bluetooth 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 Tracking: 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. It indicates that the app and therefore your iPhone is currently tracking where you are located. This is used in apps such as Maps to give you directions or in Safari when looking for something nearby.


Symbols In Control Center

Access the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of your screen, or down from the upper right corner of your screen if you have the iPhone X, XS, or XS Max. 

  • Airplane Mode: In the upper left box of the Control Center, to the very left, is an airplane symbol. When highlighted orange, your internet and Bluetooth connections are 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 calls or messages when this mode is turned on unless you tap the internet, Bluetooth, or cellular icon to turn that function on even in Airplane Mode. When Airplane Mode is turned on then the icon will also appear on the Home screen.


  • Cellular: 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: 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 though. You can quickly turn Wi-Fi on or off by tapping this icon.

  • Bluetooth: 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: 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: 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 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 Control: When you firmly press any of the four icons in the upper-left box of 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 Personal Hotspot.


Top Image Credit: Miss Ty / Shutterstock

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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.