The connectivity icons (Data, Mobile Signal, Wifi) in the status bar on my Nexus S are normally green, but sometimes they go white. I can't seem to figure out what this means, as I still have a signal and can receive phonecalls/texts.

They are always all the same, e.g. either all white or all green. I'm on Android 2.3.4.

  • Hmm. I wonder if that's switching between EDGE 3G and HSPA 3G? Commented May 23, 2011 at 19:39
  • From my personal experience, they seem to go white when you aren't using background services? This with a Droid1 on CM7, I have no real idea and was wondering the same thing myself
    – Bryan Denny
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 19:53
  • @Matthew: Probably not, since it happens to me in the UK, where we only (AFAIK) have 3G. If it helps, it happens on honeycomb while it is registering with a new wireless network. Maybe it's just registering with a new tower after a signal break? (This might coincide with a connection type change.) Commented May 23, 2011 at 19:55
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    I have a Droid running CM7 also and I thought this was just a rendering glitch in the themes. I'm glad to know this is actually meant to indicate something useful.
    – newuser
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 20:33
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    On the droid x with gingerbread they switch from blue to white (instead of green to white). I also thought this was a rendering problem. Good to know.
    – Alex B
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


It has to do with whether or not you've currently got a good connection to Google's servers for sync services and the like. From page 27 of their Android 2.3 Users Guide:

Network status icons turn green if you have a Google Account added to your phone and the phone is connected to Google services, for syncing your Gmail, Calendar events, contacts, for backing up your settings, and so on. If you don’t have a Google Account or if, for example, you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network that is not connected to the Internet, the network icons are white.

I'm not really sure why it bounces back and forth between green and white sometimes. I've noticed it on my phone but everything works fine (I run CyanogenMod, though, so perhaps it has to do with that). It could also be that green means it's currently in the act of syncing, but the wording in the document is a little vague, in my opinion.

In the case of Honeycomb or Ice Cream Sandwich, the colors are blue/grey instead of green/white, but they still have the same meaning.

Edit: For the interested, here are links to the user guide in other languages. The above is the English version.

  • 1
    I think that's as good clarification as I'm going to get, it does normally happen when I'm out and about, so I assume it's when my signal isn't too great.
    – Dunhamzzz
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 20:04
  • Ah, so I was sort of right. Turning off background services == no connection to Google == white icons
    – Bryan Denny
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 20:47
  • @Bryan: Yep, I think you're exactly right on that one. Commented May 23, 2011 at 21:09
  • I know this is an old post, but I'd like to interject my experiences here. I have a Droid RAZR and I have noticed that when I am away from my home WIFI, I lose data connection frequently. The icons (4G and carrier signal) turn white, and even though I still have bars, I have no data connection at all until they turn blue again. The annoying part is that it will just keep going back and forth sometimes, even if I'm not moving. While the answer here seems like a good explanation, it doesn't really answer why I'm not getting any connection at all... or why it's happening. Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 17:32
  • What does "the phone is connected to Google services" means in technical terms? Commented Oct 13, 2013 at 22:20

I just had the same problem of the 3G and the bars showing only in white and not green. I just got the phone a week ago and am not too familiar with the Android feature phone yet. However, the latest problem that I had was that my phone was saying that I was low on memory.

I was researching new SD cards, but just realized that I had about 4GB free on the SD card and it was the phone that was full. I moved all the apps that I could onto the SD card and now I have 100MB free on the phone. Now the 3G and the bars are green. I think that the Google Syncing services shut down (hence the white logos) when there is not enough memory on the phone to run them. My email was not syncing either.

Moral of the story: If you do not have green bars, check your phone memory. Delete apps and/or move them to your SD card. It works perfect now.

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    That the syncing services shut down when the device runs out of memory is plausible. But please note that this is only true for the RAM (the working memory) of the phone. Removing apps from the permanent storage -- either SD card or internal -- cannot have helped with this at all.
    – Nova
    Commented Apr 25, 2012 at 17:12
  • Not 100% correct. Note that Google help writes: Google Calendar (as well as other applications) will not automatically sync when internal storage is low. (emphasis mine). Note: "internal storage", not "RAM".
    – Izzy
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 17:31

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