What the status and notification icons on Android actually mean


It seems that the icons in the status and notification bar get shaken up with every major Android update, sometimes changing appearance or disappearing entirely. If you find yourself not knowing what some of these icons mean, do not worry. You’re not alone! We’re here to help make sense of these unintelligible glyphs.
Because Android smartphone makers customize the user interface on their devices, even the most commonly used icons may differ from one brand to another. Also, chances are high you are reading this article because you are confused about a specific icon on your smartphone that you can’t make sense of. To quickly check what it might be, you can use the jump to links below to quickly see if the icon in question has been listed. If the icon you’re looking for isn’t listed on your smartphone’s manual, chances are high you will find them on Google’s font page anyway.

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Status bar and notification bar: What is the difference?

The status bar

The status bar and the notification bar are very similar, but in reality, they are two different things. The status bar is located at the top of the display, on the right. This is where you will see things like the current time, battery status, and current connections (Bluetooth, cellular network, and Wi-Fi). The Notification bar, on the other hand, is located on the upper left side, where you’ll find app icons to alert you to new messages, updates to the Play Store, and other notifications. 

So, if you listen to music via Spotify or, the corresponding icon will be displayed on the notification bar. Usually, the sequence of the icons indicates how new or old the notifications are. The most recent notifications are displayed on the far left.

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The status bar shows you the current time, the battery status, and the connections / © NextPit

The notification bar and drawer

The notification bar also contains notifications, which you can open with a swipe-down gesture. This gesture reveals a lot of information – the example of which includes recent screenshots, a WhatsApp message, Facebook notifications, and email alerts. You can then clock the notification to open the corresponding app or simply swipe to the right or left to dismiss the notification. 

Modern Android versions allow users to respond directly within the notification without the need to open the app that sent the notification. For example, you can reply to a WhatsApp message from within the notification bar without the need to open WhatsApp app. 

In addition to the notifications, another set of important things you can access from this swipe-down gesture are the quick settings toggles. From here, you can quickly turn on/off a feature without having to go to the settings menu. Some of the most common things you can change from here include enabling and disabling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other connections, turning on/off the hotspot, toggling the auto-rotate option, and switching on the flashlight.  If you press and hold down an icon, you will enter the settings for this function. 

Most manufacturers also customize the quick settings themselves. Therefore, there are always several options here. Fortunately, the selection can be personalized to your tastes and habits, so you always have access to the most important settings for you. Also, you can always disable annoying or uninteresting notifications just by long-pressing an alert. This will open a small menu where you can choose how you want to be notified by the app.

android 10 icons
Here’s how the icons look on stock Android 10. Things haven’t changed too much on Android 11 / © NextPit

The most common notification and status icons by manufacturers

Below, we take a look at some of the most commonly used notification and status icons that you may come across while using your smartphone. We have listed most of the prominent smartphone brands and their custom Android skins below. Whilst these customizations don’t fundamentally change the way the status and notification icons look or react, you can often find options that are exclusive to the software you are running.

Samsung (One UI)

Samsung’s user manual includes a list of symbols that are usually displayed on the notification bar. Check the image below to see the most important ones.

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The common icons you would see on Samsung smartphones running OneUI / © Samsung

Xiaomi/ Redmi/ Poco

Here are the most commonly used status icons on Xiaomi smartphones. These icons will be seen on almost all devices from the company that run MIUI. This includes sub-brands like Poco and Redmi as well.

MIUI status icons
Status icons you will come across on phones running MIUI from Xiaomi/ © Xiaomi

OnePlus

These are the icons you will encounter while using OnePlus smartphones that run the company’s own Android skin – OxygenOS.

OnePlus Icons
The common icons on OnePlus’ OxygenOS / © OnePlus

Huawei/ Honor (EMUI)

Honor might have separated from Huawei, but as of 2021, some of you might still be using Honor devices that run EMUI. The most commonly used status icons on EMUI are listed below.

Huawei Status Icons
These are the common icons you would encounter on Huawei and Honor smartphones that run EMUI/ © Huawei

Stock Android (for Google, Nokia, Motorola, Sony, and Asus smartphones)

If you happen to be an Android purist who prefers the stock Android experience, chances are high you would own either a Google Pixel smartphone or one of the many devices that offer the stock Android experience. The brands that offer the stock Android experience to users include Nokia, Motorola, Sony, and even Asus. 

Some of the icons that you will encounter on stock Android are listed in the image below. While these icons are from Android 11, most of these have remained unchanged since Android 10 and will not be changing even on Android 12.

notification icons Android 11
Some of the most used Android notification icons as of Android 11 / © Google

In case the icon that you are looking for isn’t listed above, Google has a comprehensive list of icons that are part of Android 11 on its Fonts portal. This page lists all the icons that you will encounter on your Android phone. It is divided into multiple sections, some of which are listed below. 

Have you ever seen a notification or an icon that you just can’t figure out the meaning of? Describe it in the comments, and let us know what type of phone you have!



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