AT&T upgrades iPhone to 4G. Wait, what?

4G iphone 4S iOS 5.1In what may amount to the most maniacally audacious marketing decision in AT&T’s storied history of misleading advertising, the wireless carrier has pushed an update embedded deep within Apple’s iOS 5.1 that changes the iPhone 4S’s network display to read “4G.” Reports have been trickling in since the Apple keynote event on Wednesday and we’ve confirmed the update ourselves. To be clear: Nothing has changed about the iPhone’s data speed. Your antennae has not been upgraded by a band of silent and invisible Apple elves to the 4G LTE set found in the new iPad, even though Apple could probably afford to do that. This is plain and simple advertising rhetoric, hyperbole, and outright falsehood. Well, maybe not.

If you harken back to the iPhone 4S keynote speech in October of 2011, you’ll remember Phil Schiller offering a very diplomatic assessment of the 4S’s improved wireless capabilities. In describing the iPhone’s 5.8Mbps upload and nearly 15Mbps download speed, Schiller stated that he was “not going to get into a debate about what’s 4G and what isn’t,” according to Macworld. Well it appears that Apple has finally taken a stand on the issue: The only way such a change could have been pushed out via the official OTA update would have been for Apple to send it out from their servers. Sprint and Verizon 4S owners are still reportedly seeing “3G” on their handsets, and in order to modify the firmware in the way AT&T has, the change must have come directly from Cupertino, at AT&T’s request.

Which is not to say that AT&T’s 4S isn’t 4G fast: AT&T’s HSPA+ is certifiably the fastest previous generation (read: 3G) network infrastructure currently in existence. It is on par with Verizon Wireless’s current iteration of 4G LTE, which at the time of this writing has an average aggregate of 14.19Mbps. What is distinctly un-4G about HSPA+, however, is the technical architecture of that wireless network. LTE, which is now the basis of all four major carrier pushes into 4G, is a separate technology from AT&T’s 3G, and at current speeds, represents the absolute bare-bones transfer rate a 4G network should achieve. Built into the LTE spec is the ability to sustain 1Gbits/s speeds — granted, that won’t happen anytime soon with current 4G LTE technologies on any carrier — but it will never happen on AT&T’s 3G HSPA+.

T-Mobile, which has been hawking its own HSPA+ network as “4G” since 2010, drew AT&T’s ire last year over essentially the same advertising gimmick that AT&T is guilty of participating in today. As Seth Bloom, AT&T’s blogger relations spokesperson, told The Verge at that time, “I think companies need to be careful that they’re not misleading customers by labeling HSPA+ as a 4G technology.” Today his tune has changed just a bit, with Bloom admitting to The Verge, “AT&T has rolled out a nationwide HSPA+ network, and they refer to this high-speed network as 4G. With iOS 5.1, iPhone 4S will now see this reflected in the status bar.”

Today consumers expect to read between the lines with wireless carrier advertising; the question that really needs to be asked is why a company such as Apple, which extolls simplicity of use to a cultish degree, would go along with something this confusing and innacurate in the first place?

Image Credit: The Verge


Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.

T-Mobile says Sprint merger will boost 5G speeds by up to 6 times

2019 will be a huge year for T-Mobile. Not only is a merger with Sprint likely, but T-Mobile is also in the midst of building out its next-generation mobile service. Here's everything you need to know about the T-Mobile 5G rollout.

AT&T adds Minneapolis and Chicago to its mobile 5G road map for 2019

Ready to experience a radical transformation in mobile communication? AT&T is launching mobile 5G in cities across the country over the next few months. Here's everything you need to know about the AT&T 5G rollout.

You can now get Google Fi SIM cards straight from Best Buy

Google's wireless service known as Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi. The company also announced the service is now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about…

These are the 6 best free antivirus apps to help protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as choosing from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.

The Apollo Traveller is the fastest recharging power bank we’ve ever used

Power banks are getting better all the time, but the Apollo Traveller from Elecjet hits new heights in terms of charging and recharging speeds thanks to the use of a graphene composite for cooling. Here's what happened when we tried it out.

Get ready for new AirPods, MacBooks as rumored dates for Apple WWDC 2019 emerge

Apple developers and fans alike look forward, every year, to the company's World Wide Developer Conference, WWDC, and for this year, we already have the rumored dates that might bring us Apple's latest tech announcements.

This Mac keyboard is slim, dark, and clicky, but it’s still not perfect

There aren't many great mechanical keyboards for Macs. The Keychron K1 is just the latest attempt to join that hallowed group, but does its blend of style and substance tick all the boxes?

These 30 useful apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find.

Need a date for Valentine's Day? Cozy up with the best dating apps of 2019

Everyone knows online dating can be stressful, time-consuming, and downright awful. Check out our top picks for the best dating apps, so you can streamline the process and find the right date, whatever you're looking for.

One of these monitors will look great next to your new MacBook Pro

Apple doesn't make its beloved Cinema Display monitors anymore, which makes finding the best monitor for the MacBook Pro more difficult. In this guide, we break down some of our favorites and offer something for every size and budget.

Smartwatch sales soared in 2018, with Apple leading the charge

The NPD Group, a market research organization, has reported smartwatch sales soared in 2018. Apple is leading the charge, but it's clear there's still room in the market for competitors, as Samsung and Fitbit also did well.

Worried about extra data charges? Here's how to check your usage on an iPhone

It's common to get a little nervous about nearing data limits. Keep your peace of mind by checking how much data your iPhone is using. Our guide on how to check data usage on an iPhone helps you stay in control.

New Apple patent hints clamshell-style foldable phone may be in the works

Apple has filed a patent for a foldable phone that suggests the company could be following in the footsteps of the likes of Samsung and Huawei. The patent describes a clamshell-style foldable phone with two separate sections.