The iPhone status bar works like a device dashboard, displaying crucial information like time, cellular network, battery level, and more. However, it can be confusing when unfamiliar icons and signs pop up, causing users to raise their eyebrows.
One of these unfamiliar icons is the TFW sign. TFW basically stands for TracFone Wireless and the sign indicates that your iPhone is currently using the TracFone network carrier.
In this article, I’ll walk you through what this sign actually means and whether you should consider it a threat to your iPhone. You’ll also get to learn all about TracFone Wireless, MVNOs, and the network carriers that fall under the TFW family.
What Does TFW Mean On An iPhone?
You’re probably familiar with big-name carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. These companies serve millions of users all over the US with their own networks and infrastructure. But did you know hundreds of smaller operators piggyback on these big shots to provide their services?
TFW or “TracFone Wireless” is one of these smaller network carriers. It is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses the existing network servers and infrastructure of Verizon.
The TFW status icon you’re seeing on the top-left corner of the iPhone screen is just an indication that your device is under the TracFone Wireless network, nothing else.
But I understand the concern. You’re probably thinking, “How come it’s showing TFW while my phone is using Straight Talk Wireless?“
This confusion often leads users to question the legitimacy of their network operators.
Fortunately, there’s nothing to be alarmed about. It’s completely normal to see the TFW sign even if you’re using one of TracFone’s subsidiaries like Straight Talk Wireless or Total by Verizon.
What Network Brands Are Under TracFone Wireless?
As the largest wireless service reseller, TracFone Wireless is incorporated with several smaller carriers, each operating as an independent MVNO.
However, calling TracFone the “parent company” of these MVNOs may not be accurate since Verizon acquired TracFone a couple of years ago. I’ll get into all that later in this article, but first, let’s have a look at all the network carriers that fall under the TFW umbrella.
|TracFone Wireless||Straight Talk Wireless|
|NET10 Wireless||SafeLink Wireless|
|Total by Verizon||GoSmart Mobile|
|Clearway Wireless||Simple Mobile|
|Walmart Family Mobile||PagePlus Cellular|
Are you subscribed to any of these carriers? If yes, then you might see TFW on your iPhone’s status bar. But rest assured, the sign won’t affect your device or network performance, nor will it drain the battery faster.
Note: You may also see icons saying HOME, AT&T, 5G, LTE, and much more. All these indicate that you’re connected under a specific network or cellular mode.
Is TracFone Wireless And Verizon The Same Carrier?
Technically, no. TracFone Wireless Inc. is the largest network resell company in the US with nearly a dozen network brands under its umbrella and more than 20 million subscribers. So you cannot put them both on the same page.
However, while they may not be cut from the same cloth, both Verizon and TracFone are connected by a common thread.
Verizon Communications acquired TracFone Wireless from América Móvil back in 2021 and all the network brands that come along with it. Before that, TracFone Wireless was an independent MVNO that used to lease network servers and infrastructure from larger carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
Now, you may be wondering what an MVNO is. After all, I’ve mentioned it quite a few times throughout this article.
In papers, a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a telecommunications company that’s a subsidiary of larger carriers. MVNOs do not own any network infrastructures themselves, but rather lease network capacity from big-shot network providers.
This model functions as a resale business where MVNOs offer more affordable plans compared to the parent company and cater services to specific markets without maintaining expensive infrastructure.
The relationship between TracFone Wireless and Verizon is similar to this model, with the only exception that Verizon owns TracFone Inc. However, they still operate as separate entities, with TracFone continuing to function as an MVNO.
Can I Remove The TFW Sign From My iPhone Screen?
Unfortunately, you cannot remove the TFW status icon from your iPhone screen from the settings menu. However, you can try jailbreaking your iPhone to hide the carrier name from your iPhone’s status bar.
Jailbreaking refers to tweaking the iOS system and gaining full control over your iPhone’s functionality. This way, you can hide the TFW sign and do a lot more to your iPhone status bar.
There are hundreds of Jailbreaking apps that will get you the job done in no time. However, we do not recommend jailbreaking your device as it completely voids the Apple warranty and makes the device vulnerable to security threats.
And why bother with all the fuss when the TFW sign isn’t doing anything wrong? I would recommend just leaving the TFW sign as it is and avoiding any potential harm to your device.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are TFW iPhones carrier-locked?
Yes, most TFW iPhones are carrier-locked, but you can unlock the device and use any network carrier by following a few simple steps.
- Check out TracFone unlock policy and see whether your device is eligible to unlock.
- Request an unlock pin for your device. Write it down.
- Power off your device and replace the SIM card with a carrier different than TracFone.
- Switch it back on and enter the unlock pin.
Is TracFone a good carrier for the iPhone like Verizon?
TracFone Wireless is a good prepaid carrier for iPhone users looking for affordable plans and a stable network connection. Since it leases network capacity from Verizon, you’re likely to have better coverage and customer service.
Still, it’s best to do your own research to determine whether TracFone is suitable for you.
What TracFone network brands am I using?
To check what network provider you’re using, go to Settings > General > About and look for the Network Provider name under the Primary menu.
The TFW icon on your iPhone status bar simply indicates that your device is connected to a network provided by TracFone Wireless or any of its subsidiary MVNOs. Some users find it alarming at the beginning, but rest assured, this sign is not a threat to your device.
So there’s no need to remove or hide the icon from the status bar. You can keep it as it is and do your day-to-day work without worries.