If you’ve ever seen 4G indicator on iPhone 4S status bar, you may think that you’re on 4G-enabled coverage, but in fact you are not. The 4G on status bar of iPhone 4S or The new iPad 3 is just a little misleading on AT&T’s part. The status bar supposed to show 3G label, but it has been replaced with 4G label on iOS 5.1 updates as AT&T was working with Apple to update the network indicator for AT&T iPhone 4S to show 4G instead of 3G according to internal talking points that leaked on October 2011.
AT&T is working with Apple to update the network indicator for AT&T’s iPhone 4S to read “4G”. This will happen with an iOS release from Apple. Since iPhone 4S is an HSPA+ device, our customers will get 4G speeds from day one. Only AT&T has this unique network advantage.
So, the 4G label as you see on the top status bar of your iPhone 4S is simply a marketing term used by AT&T to market its HSPA+ and LTE services, don’t get confused with the term of 4G label here.
Based on IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced) requirements, the first-release version of Mobile WiMAX and the first-release Long term evolution (LTE) are not fully IMT-Advanced compliant, but are often branded 4G by service providers. Mobile WiMAX Release 2 (also known as WirelessMAN-Advanced or IEEE 802.16m) and LTE Advanced (LTE-A) are IMT-Advanced compliant backwards compatible versions.
But, Apple has purposely shied away from the debate over what should constitute “4G” speeds, with Phil Schiller steering away from any claims of the iPhone 4S being a “4G” device in its introduction but noting that the iPhone 4S meets or exceeds the data speeds of a number of other handsets that are marketed as 4G devices.
Now, if you follow the phone industry, these numbers might sound familiar – 5.8 up, 14.4 down. Where have I heard that before? Well, this is what the majority of our competitors claim when they talk about 4G performance. The Motorola Atrix 4G, the LG Thrill 4G, the HTC Inspire 4G – they even put it in their names. We’re not going to get into a debate in the industry of what’s 4G and what isn’t. We leave that to others to talk about. What’s most important, when it comes to real-world performance – the iPhone 4S is just as fast as all these phones. In fact, we think with some of our software enhancements, it’s even faster in real-world use.
Not only iPhone, but more confusion comes when you bring the iPad 3 (The New iPad) into LTE coverage area, the iPad 3 will display LTE label on the top left status bar and display 4G label when the iPad is covered by only HSPA+ network.
iPad on LTE coverage area