“What does this iPhone symbol mean” is a question we hear a lot at Macworld. While the iPhone and iOS are as easy to use a">

Your guide to iPhone symbols: what do they mean?

Lou Hattersley
7 March, 2014
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“What does this iPhone symbol mean” is a question we hear a lot at Macworld. While the iPhone and iOS are as easy to use as possible, the iPhone shows many symbols, icons and alerts. Getting to know what these symbols will help you to understand Apple’s iOS operating system.

Here’s our guide to various iPad and iPhone symbols so you know what they mean:

What does a padlock with a circled arrow around it on my iPhone mean?

Orientation Lock

The iPhone orientation is locked so apps that support horizontal and vertical modes (like iBooks) will be locked to one or the other. Slide your finger up from the bottom of the display to open Control Centre and tap on the Orientation Lock icon (same shape) to to turn it off.

What does an E symbol on my iPhone mean?

Edge Symbol

This means you are on an Edge network rather than one of the newer 3G, LTE or 4G networks. Apps like Safari that use the internet may run a little slowly, but you should be able to use them (along with apps like Mail and Maps) just fine.

What does GPRS on my iPhone mean?


This means you are using an aging GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network to access the internet. Internet services and apps will work, but slowly you might think they don’t. Try to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot or move to a different area to get a better signal.

What does a crescent moon symbol on my iPhone mean?

Do Not Disturb

Do not Disturb is turned on. Do Not Disturb is an iPhone mode that blocks unwanted phone calls and alerts (although people who call repeatedly will be put through in case it’s an emergency). Slide your finger up from the bottom of the display to open Control Centre and tap the Do Not Disturb icon to switch this mode off.

What does this small telephone with dots beneath it on my iPhone mean?


This means that the iPhone’s TTY (Teletype) service is active. TTY is a service that enables people with poor hearing to interact with phone calls. Sometimes inserting a SIM card from an unknown carrier turns TTY on by default. Tap on Settings > Phone and set TTY to Off.

What does a symbol with VPN inside a box on my iPhone mean?


You’re connected to a network using VPN (Virtual Private Network). This is where you browse to a small virtual network (which passes everything on from the wider internet). If you work for a larger company they may run their own VPN network, and you’ll need to be connected to one to use their services (like Contacts) on your phone. If not click on Settings > General > VPN and set VPN to Off.

What do two linked circles that look like a paperclip icon on my iPhone mean?


You have set up a Personal Hotspot and are sharing your internet connection from your iPhone to another device. This can be handy if you are using an iPad or Mac without its own internet connection, but if you’re not doing this you should turn it off. Tap on Settings > Personal Hotspot and set Personal Hotspot to Off.

What does an arrow on my iPhone mean?

Location Services

This means that one of your apps is using Location Services to pinpoint your location. Often an app like Maps will use Location Services, but some apps like Motion GPSX track your location. Tap on Settings >Privacy > Location Services to see which apps are allowed to access Location Services.

What does a symbol made from two triangles that looks like an 8, or a letter B, on the iPhone mean?

Bluetooth Settings for Pure Evoke D2

This means that Bluetooth is turned on. Bluetooth is used to communicate with other devices, like wireless earphones, speakers and external keyboards. Slide your finger up from the bottom of the display to open Control Centre and tap the Bluetooth icon to turn it Off.

What does the i in iPhone stand for?

Unofficially the i stands for ‘internet’. It originally comes from the iMac computer, which was launched in 1997. The iMac was designed to make it as easy as possible to connect to the internet. Watch this ’3 Steps’ advert in Macworld UK‘s article to see Apple promoting this idea. The ‘i’ was then added to other products like the iPod, iTunes, iMovie and other products. Eventually, it became a shorthand way of saying ‘Apple Product’. Officially it no longer stands for anything.

What does it mean when three dots appear after I send a text message?

The three dots appear when somebody is reading and replying to your text message. If the dots disappear, it’s because they have stopped typing. This means you can see when you are in a conversation with somebody, as opposed to waiting for them to reply.

What does two arrows in spinning circle on the iPhone mean?

This is the sync icon, and it signifies that the iPhone is currently syncing with a computer. The iPhone can sync wirelessly, so it no longer has to be attached to the computer. This isn’t a bad thing but if you want to stop this happening connect your iPhone to your Mac using the Lightning Cable, open iTunes and click on your iPhone in Devices and untick Sync with this iPhone over Wi-Fi.

By Lou Hattersley, Macworld UK.


29 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Ann Poulton says:

    What does a circled arrow with a white square in the centre mean?

  2. Kate says:

    What does cloud with downward pointed arrow

  3. Patti says:

    I forgot my password for my MackBook and can’t get on it.
    So the alternative was to sign on with my mac ID. Well it will not do that because i am not on the internet because i can’t sign in. aaarrrrgggg

  4. Sarah says:

    I had my screen fixed and it now only shows the white apple sign nothing els??? Anyone know how I get into my phone x

  5. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    I’d start by taking it back to the place that did the screen replacement. But, if that’s not practical, you can put the iPhone into recovery mode. There are instructions at the very end of this article, http://www.macworld.com.au/help/how-to-upgrade-to-ios-8-and-downgrade-to-ios-7-if-you-regret-it-130666/#.VTGyH86FDMA, or you can search online for instructions. Good luck.

  6. Chantel says:

    What does it mean when there is icons next to you text messages like a moon that looks like the do not disturb

  7. Jean says:

    What does a yellow tick in a yellow circle mean in “notes”

  8. Jean says:

    What does yellow tick in yellow circle mean in notes

  9. Heather says:

    What does the symbol with a phone handset and a small arrow mean?

  10. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Call forwarding is enabled

  11. Cheryl says:

    What is a small phone with an arrow on my iPhone mean ???

  12. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    It means call forwarding is enabled. Check Settings -> Phone -> Call Forwarding and check that it is off, or on. If you change the setting you may need to restart your phone.

  13. Dems says:

    When somebody uses the sunglasses face.
    What are the communicating?

  14. Jane says:

    What does a phone symbol with an arrow next to it mean. And how do I get rid of it. My iPad rings the same time as my iPhone does when my home wifi is on????

  15. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Phone with the arrow – call forwarding is enabled. That will either be in settings or it can be enabled by typing some codes into your iPhone.

    The iPad and other devices calling is a feature called Continuity – it enables you to answer your iPhone from your computer or iPad and use it’s microphone and speakers as a remote handset.

  16. Sam says:

    What does the icon of three people mean that sometimes appear in the lower lef corner of my screen

  17. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    I’m not sure and i can;t recall seeing that one. Is that on your iPhone?

  18. Sherilyn Ryan says:

    Why does the upward arrow for making capital letters on my ipad have a dot above it and now won’t allow me to use capitals?

  19. Frank says:

    what does it mean when you have a telephone icon with A arrow pointing right along the top of the screen

  20. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Pretty sure you’re referring to the Call Forwarding symbol. It means you have enabled call forwarding in Settings | Phone | Call Forwarding

  21. Mark says:

    Hi I know what the half moon means when I turn do not disturb on but what does it mean when it appears next to a friends name in a txt message i.e. Half moon and then initials off contact??

  22. Darlene says:

    I half half moon next to a friends message just like Mark July 2nd asked but it doesn’t initial off contact the phone they use is a Samsung

  23. Mark says:

    I have a phone hand set symbol and a arrow wot does that mean ?

  24. JennaLee says:

    What does the i in a circle mean when next to a contact? I was starting a next text when I saw an i in a circle (i) (but an actual circle) next to one of my contacts. I noticed that the only others ones that have this are group texts.

    Thank you!

  25. Joanie says:

    What does the crescent

  26. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Do not disturb mode is on

  27. Kerry says:

    I don’t have DO NOT DISTURB ON yet I have a crescent moon next to 1 of my contacts. I get notified when I receive texts. I’ve tried turning DND on and off to try to get rid of it with no success. It is only next to this 1 contact.
    What does it mean and how can I get rid of it? Thank you .

  28. Geetha lakshmi says:

    Good information.

  29. lydia says:

    Hi. I recently got gifted my brother’s iphone 5 and I have been struggling to download Whatsapp for a week now. It shows me a cloud with an arrow pointing downwards and sometimes a square with a dark circle in it. What am I doing wrong pls?
    Thank you.

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