What do those arrow icons mean on my Windows Phone?

In case you missed it yesterday, Nokia announced that their Lumia Black update was beginning to rollout. That update is a double punch firmware (Lumia Black) and OS refresh (Update 3). But there’s one question a few of you submitting to the site that has caught our attention: What do those little arrow mean for the system icons?

Many of you have figured it out, but for those who haven’t we have the details.

Arrow Icons

With Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 Update 3, devices on certain networks now have little arrows for Wi-Fi and cellular data. They go ‘active’ when data is being transferred at that moment. Think of a router when the data lights flash during data transmission. According to Microsoft (opens in new tab):

“When your cellular data connection is being used to transfer data, you may see the Cellular data used icon, depending on your mobile operator. This icon only appears on phones that have Windows Phone software version 8.0.10501.127 or later.”

Note the caveat “depending on your mobile operator”. Here on AT&T, we have never seen these data icons, but from the avalanche of emails we’ve received on the matter, many of you international folks have. We’re going to venture to guess that either it is an operator configuration or flag that must be enabled via the network-specific firmware (this is why Lumia Black rolls out through carriers, for these nuanced setups).

Hopefully that will help answer your questions about those arrows. It’s one of the many little changes and fixes that Microsoft adds to these OS updates and we hope many of you make use of the visual indicator on your Windows Phone.

Thanks, Kaylin B., for the screenshot and question!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Blackberry has had this for years.
  • Cool on them
  • That must be why they're doing so well...
  • lol
  • +820
  • First comment in a while that actually made me laugh out loud. Bravo
  • +touchpad on my old curve and bold
  • Dude, what's with all the hate? They sold DOZENS of devices, seem to be doing pretty well.
  • Dude, what's with all the hate?!!! You and @heat 33330 are actually in agreement LOL!
  • Hahah "dozens"
  • Yeah like 2 dozen a month!   Now WP has this icon, which means..
  • Hahaha
  • Don't say tat the droid and ios guys say the same about us.jst cuz something sells it doesn't make them better or cuz something doesn't sell it doesn't mean its bad.its jst a trend.
  • So did Windows Mobile!
  • Exactly, and now WP also  has it.
  • Lmao. That one comment that always brings all the trolls out of the woodworks.
  • On one said this was groundbreaking, it was only mentioned
  • Blackberry? I smell irrelevance.
  • Didn't most phones in the olden days, long before blackberry came along? Personally i don't really see the point or need for it?
  • Symbian has had this before Blackberry
  • I noticed it on wife's GS4. Just one more thing WP is late with!
  • Troll! Symbian and Blackberry had it before the GS4 and was not present in early Android so Android was late too!
  • Been 100% WP since March 2011. What are you calling me a troll for nitwit?
  • He is not talking about Symbian or Blackberry. Stop being such a sore loser. The fact is, WP is just slow on these things.
  • Neat!
  • It is, now that I know what it means. :-) Rogers has rolled it out on the Lumia 1020 in Canada. And there are two other Windows Phones within eyeshot on the city bus I'm on right now too. :-)
  • Perhaps related when DataSense is enabled by the mobile operator no ? (all requests are send to microsoft server to compress them, they perhaps added an indicator)
  • Hello sir off topic, but I don't get notifications from your great apps 6tag and 6snap. Could that be an issue with my 920?
  • You can't have notifications when the background agent of "instagram beta" is activated (counter on server is reset to 0 when an app request it)
  • Thanks for the speedy response, should I block IG Beta?
  • To answer for Rudy....yes, or uninstall it.
  • Then spit on it :P
  • Thanks chef!
  • And vise versa❔
  • Thanks Rudy for the explanation!
    Beta uninstalled... ;-)
  • That's nice feature.
  • Yes! yes! but not on NSA's watch though..
  • Whatever, today you are being spied everywhere, who even cares...
  • The article spokes about the mobile operator indicator in fact (it has the same arrow), the image shows the wifi indicator :  " Wi-Fi connection is being used to transfer data. Depending on your mobile operator, you might not see this icon when a Wi-Fi connection is being used to transfer data. This icon only appears on phones that have Windows Phone software version 8.0.10501.127 or later. See How do I update my phone software? for more info on updating your phone.
  • Actually it applies to both the WiFi and network icons.
  • Onya Rudy, you truly are an asset to the WP8 ecosystem and a role model for every dev out there. I hope you get the recognition you deserve and for having the time to answer questions on this site I applaud you. Now get back to work
  • The icon in question doesn't appear on my unlocked Lumia 1020
  • Its carrier specific, which means that the carrier must activate this.. Your device isn't locked down to any specific carrier to open up the functionality...
  • It appears on my 1020 locked to Telus for both Wifi and Data.
  • Just update my SIM free 820 with Black and i don't have those arrows. My OS version is 10521.155
  • Wow. It's almost like AT&T doesn't want us to know how much data we're using. This is ridiculous how much power a carrier can have over small but essential features on Windows Phones. They better enable Data Sense soon.
  • I'm pretty sure AT&T will never enable Data Sense.
  • come on... call *data# and you will get an SMS with data use for self & full plan.  Nokia 2520 WindowsRT tablet comes with a Metro app that accurately measures data use for your shared plan (including smal business plans) & live tile.
  • The problem with your solution is it doesn't provide app specific data usage which can pinpoint data hogs that can cause us to go over our limits. I got dinged by AT&T one month because a stupid app was using multiple hundreds of MB per day and I had to uninstall apps one by one until I found which one. If I would have had data sense, I would have found it on day 1 and wouldn't have gotten that extra charge. AT&T likes it that way.
  • Exactly! My data usage has been mysteriously going up dramatically for the past week. If I had Data Sense, I could pin point the app(s) that are causing that to happen. The myAT&T app gives me the bare minimum.
  • This actually helps us with customers coming in asking why the arrows always show up even though their phone is not being used. Customers always come in all worried on why arrows show up on their android phones. It gets annoying after a while having to explain why data is being sent and received (checking for email, notifications, updates, background tasks). I'm sure at&t doesn't want people calling in all the time asking what those arrows are for.
  • It's a well known fact that all ATT wants is to make you run over your data limit so they can fuck you over with insane charges for the exceeded use. No Data Sense, and now we learn that those bastards have even disabled data in use notifications. What's next? The saddest part is this all can happen because consumer protection is non-existent in the US and companies like ATT are allowed to do whatever they want.  
  • The govt has made it relatively easy for us to switch providers. That is as far as they should go. If you are unhappy for whatever reason you can easily go to a competitor.
  • Where do you get this "well known fact"? They actually dont want anyone to get overages because then it creates a bad image for the company in the customer's eyes. They want everyone to be on the correct data plan to keep people like you from complaining all the time. Im glad I'm on AT&T because they're the only company to fully support Windows Phone.
  • By fully supporting WP you mean, disabling Data Sense, and releasing late updates or no updates at all? ATT never even released WP7.8 for Samsung Focus even though Samsung made the update and Rodgers in Canada made it available.  
  • Thanks for the AT&T bashing that I see so often in the comments in here. It reassures me that I made the right choice in going with Verizon, especially when they do use Data Sense. It makes it so easy to monitor your data usage. Their coverage is just a bonus. I've never been with AT&T but I used to be LONG TIME Sprint customer until a year ago. I'm so glad we switched. Now if that 929 would ever come out...
  • Wow, what a coincidence! ;) I saw a story on the 929 the next day. :P
  • Daniel.. Can you please give me some information about the glance screen pedometer❔.. Is it not available yet❔
  • Search for Nokia Motion Monitor on our site. Only for Lumia 1520 (at the moment).
  • Daniel, they should have annual top editor awards.. I would nominate you for first place.. Really❕ And, I'm not just saying that because of my bias.. I really mean it.. You're awesome, and thanks❕❕
  • +1
  • +1520
  • https://betalabs.nokia.com/trials/Nokia-Motion-Monitor
  • Thanks.
  • This is a good thing! One of the remaining things that I miss from iOS was that "spinning wheel" in the status bar when something was using the internet. With Windows Phone I have no way of knowing if something is sucking data in the background or not, until now. Except for the fact that it looks like stupid AT&T disabled it on their phones...
  • Totally irrelevant but can someone tell me about the Ces 2014 app shown in the image attached?
  • I wonder about the same :-)
  • Isn't that twitter hastag tile?
  • Hi ! This comment has nothing to do with the article, but if someone needs a Dropbox application on Windows Phone, you can comment this post on the Dropbox forum : https://forums.dropbox.com/topic.php?id=110137  
  • I just read about this on /r/windowsphone. Responses on here are a bit more legitimate though. Lol.
  • Why does my mobile operator decide whether I can see an active data connection? Especially in my own wi-fi? Again, this is soo MS-style :/
  • Same reason why your mobile operator decides when you get updates. Small marketshare, no leverage, etc. Where have you been all this time?
  • Any news when us 920s on ATT get it?!!!
  • So Lumia Black update brings Lumia Black and Update 3? I already have the Lumia black update, but does this mean I can now delete the developer preview app?
  • I'd keep it for the future. Maybe 8.1 the same way?
  • Thanks I'll keep it the same then :)
  • Yeah, I would keep it for that reason too.
  • Thanks :)
  • I wish it was an option for showing the whole line with info all the time. Maybe in a future update? :-)
  • I would love this too.
  • Fuck AT&T. Seriously.
  • Without AT&T windows phone would not be where it is today. They're the only provider to really support and sell windows phones.
  • I haven't seen it on mine yet... (Brazil)
  • Has anyone with a Lumia 925 on ATT received the update yet?
  • Lets hope EE implements this.
  • I've got 8.0.10521.155. Haven't received the Lumia Black update. Can't use Nokia Beamer. I had the GDR3 Dev preview downloaded onto the phone thinking I would get most of the future update without the carrier interfering with them,
  • I may be wrong about this but I think we're talking about two different updates from two different places. The GDR3 is from Microsoft and the Lumia Black is from Nokia. I believe the developer preview apparently gives you preview updates from Microsoft, not Nokia. Again, I could be wrong. I thought I was wrong once before but I was mistaken. :P
  • ATT is a horrible company. Of course they would block this feature. Works great on my Rogers 1020 running on T-Mobile.
  • In a forthcoming update, the AT&T screen will show little $ flying out of your phone to them when cellular data is active
  • Actually useful little thing, so you can keep tabs on data usage. But just like DataSense, AT&T feels the need to rip it out. Sigh, not the biggest deal ever, but honestly, of what benefit is it to AT&T to remove this? Make them more likely to go over their data limits, I guess...
    Ugh, AT&T, your evil knows no bounds...
  • So anyone with the Lumia 928, have you gotten the update yet?
  • Also does anyone have news on the windows blue? Sorry im pretty new to adding comments so sorry if im talking about stuff from ages ago. Also I left my iPhone for my Lumia 928 and I won't be going back
  • Of course AT&T blocked it. They wouldn't want consumers to have a way to be aware of and monitor their data usage.
  • Is that a Nokia specific thing ?
    My International unlocked HTC 8X doesn't do that (official U3 + updated firmware)
  • Any news on status of 810 Lumia black update.
  • I don't think it's ever gonna happen.
  • Nope. Not seeing the arrows too. International user here. Why can MS standardize things instead of a carrier decision?
  • Microsoft should develop better ways (or simply icons) to manage connections, and to ease user of the battery usage. I turn GPS on all the time on Android, yet it only shows the GPS icon whenever I'm in apps that requires GPS (namely Maps or Facebook). Windows Phone, on the other hand, shows it in the main screen. What's the meaning of that? Is it on? Is it off? Is it burning my battery? Same thing goes for Cellular data. If wifi is on, isn't 3G supposed to be off? The icon remains, which disturbs me a lot.
  • Bah... I dont want to read it ! Because i got a wp7 710:P
  • If you have a rooted ATIV S, you can enable this feature in your phone editing one single value in regedit In HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES Enter Software \ Microsoft \ Shell \ OEM \ SystemTray  Enter DataActivity Read, type a new value of 1 and save   More info here windowsmania.pl
  • Has anyone seen this on three uk