What Does SOS in the iPhone Status Bar Mean?

Originally published at: What Does SOS in the iPhone Status Bar Mean? - TidBITS

What does it mean when SOS appears in your iPhone’s status bar? (Hint: it’s not an iPhone cry for help.) Adam Engst explains this new status indicator in iOS 16.


I just got back from a European trip, which included a lot of time on a boat. Instead of SOS, I repeatedly saw E when I was withing cell range but not within range of my network. So, I can surmise that Europe has an equivalent requirement regarding cellphones and emergency access.

I’m pretty sure that E indicates Edge, which is an old cell technology.


Indeed, “E” means you’re connected to the Edge band.

1 Like

It is supposed to work like that in Canada too, but recently Rogers (one of Canada’s large carriers) had their whole system go down for the better part of a day, and during that time, Rogers customers couldn’t make 911 calls. They have promised to fix the problem but I haven’t heard the other carriers (Telus and Bell) say if this would have worked better for their customers or not.