What Do the Arrows Next to the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Data Icons on Your Phone Mean?

What Do the Arrows Next to the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Data Icons on Your Phone Mean?

On Android phones, these symbols give a simple and important hint about your connections.

In the status bar at the top of the display on an Android smartphone, you will find a number of symbols; some are easy to explain, while others are a little more technical. 

For example, the symbols for active cellular and Wi-Fi connections are straightforward, and you should already be familiar with them. However, you may sometimes see small arrows, or triangles (or other symbols), next to the cellular and Wi-Fi symbols. This is what each of them means:

The arrows next to the Wi-Fi and cellular symbols

Both the symbol for an active Wi-Fi connection and the regular cellular network show arrows pointing up and down. These arrows are usually filled in white, but sometimes, the arrows remain grayed out. For the cellular connection arrows, it doesn't matter whether you are using a 5G, LTE, 4G, or 3G network. In both scenarios, the arrows indicate the same thing: the small symbols signal an active download and upload connection.

In simple terms, if the arrow pointing down is filled in white, it means you are currently downloading something like an active Twitch stream. Conversely, the upward arrow represents the opposite direction; your smartphone is currently uploading something. Typically, both arrows are active at the same time after all, your smartphone needs to communicate (and upload data) with Google servers regularly even while watching a standard YouTube video.

The triangles next to the Bluetooth symbol

So why is Bluetooth different in that it uses triangles instead of arrows? The information about an existing Bluetooth connection is displayed somewhat differently. After all, this is a constant connection, such as between your smartphone, headphones or smartwatch. Given that these Bluetooth connections are continuous, it doesn't make that much sense to have a separate display for downloading and uploading data. 

Instead of these arrows, two simple triangles are shown, either next to the Bluetooth symbol on one side, or on either side of it. If you see these triangles, it means that there is an active Bluetooth connection to an external device

So what can you learn from these symbols? In both of these cases, the arrows and triangles serve as a simple indicator of the stability of your connection. It can be very useful, especially with your cellular connection. You will be able to see if your connection is unstable or if there is a failed connection. Similarly, in the case of the Bluetooth symbol, missing triangles indicate a disrupted connection to a device.