Smartphone symbols explained

Do you ever notice new symbols appearing on your smartphone or tablet’s status bar and have no idea what they mean? This quick guide will help you learn more about them and what your device is trying to tell you.

Airplane mode

This little plane means that you have airplane mode activated.


These icons of a clock generally indicate that an alarm has been set to go off in the future.



This feature enables your device to communicate with other technology nearby and is often used to connect to hands-free headsets or car stereos. Whilst not in use, it will use a lot of battery, click here to find out how to turn it off.

Do not disturb

The ‘Do not disturb’ setting, when switched on, won’t notify you of any alerts, which is handy if you are in a meeting or for uninterrupted sleep. However, you can still allow calls from your favourite contacts.


These icons all indicate that GPS is currently in use, if you see these icons a lot but don’t use any apps that you believe require your location, it might be worth turning GPS off.

Missed call

This phone symbol that has an arrow bouncing off it means that you have missed a call. Other variations of the phone icon may mean that a call is in progress, on hold or that call forwarding is activated.

Network or signal strength

These icons show you that you are connected to a mobile network and will often appear next to the name of your carrier, the more bars or dots, the stronger your connection. When you are not connected, ‘No Service’ will typically appear in its place, meaning you will be unable to make or receive calls/texts.

Orientation lock

Your device’s digital screen is set to remain in portrait mode, even if the device is rotated to landscape orientation.

Personal hotspot

Your device is sharing its mobile data network over wifi. You can learn more about this feature here.


Your device is syncing its data with another device or service, typically with your computer or the cloud.


This symbol means you are connected to wifi, and the more bars shown, the stronger your connection.

Did you know about these symbols beforehand? Are there any others of which you’re unsure? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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