AT&T’s iPhone 4S has an HSPA+ radio in it and AT&T’s worked hard to get consumers to accept HSPA+ as 4G versus HSPA without the + which we all call 3G. HSPA has a top theoretical downlink of 14Mbps. AT&T’s version of the iPhone 4S supports the HSPA+ standard, which is pretty fast, but that phone’s radio has a max theoretical speed of 14.4Mbps, just like non-Evolved HSPA which AT&T has touted as 3G. It’s almost as if Apple gave it a slower HSPA+ radio to even the G playing field between the three carriers.

If there’s any difference between a phone with a 14.4Mbps HSPA+ radio and a 14.4Mbps HSPA radio, I can’t find it. What I did find without looking to hard is AT&T touting their HSDPA/HSPA as offering a peak theoretical rate of 14.4Mbps in a press release from years ago and not until now have they tried to call that speed 4G.

So, according to TIMN, AT&T is duking it out and “in talks” with Apple to get a little 4G icon thingy on the status bar indicating its connectivity as being 4G regardless of the iPhone 4S’s radio having a candy-ass theoretical peak of 14.4Mbps, which is not only very misleading and in my view crossing the line of touting in this 4G/3G debate way too much, getting that icon and executing the ensuing marketing about their special 4G iPhone 4S, talking and surfing at the same time at 4G speeds versus the garden variety, but 3G, CDMA of Sprint and Verizon’s iPhone.

When someone hears the term HSPA+ and has a vague idea of what it means, the theoretical speeds that come to mind are 21Mbps minimum. Not 14.4. When you say 14.4, people think HSPA. When you say HSPA+, 21 or 42 or more; HSPA with no plus, 14.4 tops. Why might they think that? Common sense, some time on Wikipedia and AT&T marketing.

Pathetic, AT&T, trying to split a hair again many argue should have even been split the first time. As usual, you suck.

By stretching the 4G-marketing barrier to characterize a standard with a matching top theoretical speed of the radio inside their new iPhone, they’re lying too much and should be called out on it. If Apple gives this to them, I will be disappointed. This isn’t just about getting a status bar tweak. If they get that 4G icon for speeds that could be achieved on a 3G standard, they’ll market the hell out of it and screw Sprint even harder.

Doug Simmons


  1. I will never own an iphone, but I could not help leaving a comment. What speed will verizon and sprint be offering while you talk on your phone? Zero. Not to stick up for the bastards at ATT but it is pretty dumb to buy a phone that uses so much data to have it stop when you use it as a phone. What a concept!

  2. The iPhone 4 only had a 7.2Mbps connection and it was proven to be a decent amount faster than the Verizon iPhone 4 (At least when you have good signal!). So this upgrade to 14.4Mbps is a welcome addition to those that want to stick with AT&T.

    Is this 4G, not really, but it doesn’t matter anymore because the marketing for faster phones is going to be LTE not 4G, really relegating 4G as a mid step. Now that even Sprint is doing LTE this will help with an apples with apples comparison with new LTE phones.

  3. You may be right. But I just can’t give a shit about this. How much speed do you need on a phone? Are you seriously downloading large files or doing serious internet stuff on a phone? If 14.4Mbps is not enough, then I don’t know what to tell you. If I need serious speed or to do serious work or I’m in a hurry, I’ll get on my 25Mbps connection on my desktop or laptop, and even though there are people with faster internet than I have, it’s far more than I could ever need.

  4. Hey, since my toilet incident i’ve been living on 2G and I continue to intend to wait it out until the Nexus Prime hits t-mo.

    I just see this as at&t pulling way too fast a fast one.

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