What is this weird "phone and 7 keys" icon on my iPhone?

April 16, 2008

I’m having a problem for the past few days with my iPhone. There’s a weird icon on my status bar and I cannot make heads or tails out of it. Look at the top “status bar”. The two rightmost icons are battery indicator and alarm indicator, which are fine. But what is the leftmost one? Here are two screenshots of it, in black-and-white and color mode (iPhone icons have two modes, depending on what screen you are viewing).



Apple and iPhone are really failing me here. A natural thing to do would be to click on the icon to get more information about it, but I can’t do this. When I click/tap, nothing happens.

I looked in the iPhone user guide. It talks about all sorts of fun icons that may be on the status bar on page 14, but this particular one simply isn’t there. So we have an undocumented icon. Great.

The icon may have something to do with my data usage. I was roaming internationally a lot over the past week, and the icon appeared sometime during the trip when I couldn’t place some international calls any more. Which in itself is weird, as I have an international plan with AT&T and everything has been fine. Until now.

I went to AT&T site and some data plan indicators were red there, but I do not understand them and I have no way to interact with them.

What Apple has failed to do here is to meet my expectations, which are very different for iPod and media stuff and other non-vital gimmicks that I don’t mind being “out of order” once in a while, and my phone that needs to be rock solid and I need to be able to immediately make sense of everything that is going on, relating icons to my past knowledge and such. This icon doesn’t mean anything and I don’t have an easy way to find out what’s going on here and what can I do about it and it’s really bothering me.

UPDATE: the answer, as often, is less conspired than I thought and is here. (Why I did not find it with my original search, I have no idea.) And they should still update the manual too, or have some disclaimer about what versions it does or does not apply to. (I guess that this TTY thing was added with a software update, and the manual hasn’t yet been updated to reflect that.)