AT&T iPhone 4S Gets the 4G Indicator With iOS 5.1 Update
3G or 4G? Make up your mind.
One thing that caused a massive debate with the release of the iPhone 4S was whether or not the HSPA+ network AT&T uses to provide service to Appleís new smartphone should be considered 4G or not. The data speeds of AT&Tís HSPA+ network are capable of doubling the speeds the iPhone 4 could get on AT&Tís 3G network. It could also double the speeds the iPhone 4S was provided with on Verizon and Sprint. The iPhone 4S was shown at the Apple event in October of 2011 to be capable of reaching the same down link speeds as similar 4G smartphones of the Android flavor.
A while after the iPhone 4S release, AT&T took advantage of this speed improvement in Appleís new smartphone to advertise it as a 4G phone
, which at the time felt like false advertising. To this day, people will still argue that LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the only true 4G network and that HSPA+ should not be considered (or even advertised for that matter) a 4G network. In reality however, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) made alterations to their network manual stating that the definition of 4G service will include WiMax, LTE and HSPA+.
In todayís release of iOS 5.1
, AT&T is finally getting their way. Apple has included in the update a 4G network indicator, which will show in the status bar next to the carrier name whenever you connect to AT&Tís HSPA+ wireless network. The indicator is only for AT&T as the Sprint and Verizon iPhone 4S still operate on the general 3G radio type. The AT&T iPhone 4S is capable of 14.4Mb/s download speed while Sprint and Verizon will only get a maximum of 7.2Mb/s.
To clear up any confusion with the less tech-savvy people out there, the update to the status bar indicating youíre on a 4G network does not
install LTE on your iPhone 4S. An LTE-compatible radio is a hardware piece and cannot be installed through a software update. We can probably expect to see LTE ship with the next generation iPhone.