AT&T wants to call the iPhone 4S a 4G phone

att 4g iphone 4sWith the immense success of the iPhone 4S presales, it’s no surprise that AT&T is attempting to corner itself as much of that wealth as possible. The original iPhone carrier is working with Apple to secure a 4G label for the latest version of the iPhone 4S, which is technically an HSPA+ device.

AT&T has confirmed it wants to include a “4G” symbol on the signal bar near the top of the iPhone 4S. This would of course set the network apart from its iPhone competitors Verizon and Sprint, given that neither carrier will be offering a “4G” capable handset.

Whether or not AT&T is given the go-ahead from Apple, it will be able to market its iPhone 4S as the fastest of the bunch—in a way. AT&T’s GSM network infrastructure, which differs from Verizon and Sprint’s, will be able to support the iPhone 4S’ HSDPA capability. This, in theory, will enable high-speed downloading (reportedly speeds of up to 14.4 Mbps).

Of course, advertised speeds are generally never what they are said to be. Really, what we are seeing is that were the iPhone 4S to reach its maximum potential download speed, AT&T would be the only carrier that could support it. But even AT&T explains that saying is one thing and doing is another. “HSDPA[‘s]…peak theoretical rate is 14.4 megabits per second. AT&T has engineered its network so that most users’ experience typical downlink throughput rates of 700 kilobits per second to 1.7 Mbps, with bursts of over 1 Mbps. Typical uplink rates are 500 Kbps to 1.2 Mbps.”

Time and time again, carriers have continued to label their devices 4G even while the International Telecommunications Unions wavers over what is the true definition of the technology. And despite the numbers, AT&T has already advertised its iPhone 4S as the only option that will let you “download twice as fast.” Its advertising campaign has gotten some extra help from researchers at OpenSignalMaps, which plots that the carrier will offer the fastest speeds in 31 states because of its hypothetically-optimal network.

A few things to consider before you sign your life and iPhone usage over to AT&T: None of this means anything for signal or voice calling, so if you’ve had trouble or heard your friends’ complaints about this, consider yourself warned. AT&T’s network definitely has the best architecture to take advantage of the iPhone 4S’ new download capabilities—whether that’s in theory or practice remains to be seen.

And no matter how badly AT&T wants that 4G logo on its phone, we can’t imagine Apple will for once bend to a carrier’s wishes. When Apple creates a 4G iPhone, it will want to harness and control that release from the inside, not fork over the benefits to a lowly network. 

[UPDATE 8:24 A.M. PST] 

This post was edited to better point out that the ITU has redefined 4G to include HSPA+ along with LTE and WiMAX. However, the ITU officially recognizes LTE Release 10 and WiMAX 2 as “actual” 4G speeds. Confused? Check out our 4G guide

Product Review

Why get anything bigger? The new Mac Mini is all the desktop you need

Apple’s new Mac Mini doesn’t look much different from its predecessor, and it’s more expensive. Yet the changes under the hood make a case for its consideration as your new Mac. Can this entry-level machine hold its own?
Mobile

Google, Samsung, OnePlus, and Huawei face off in an Android battle royale

The good news is that there are some great options in the Android smartphone market right now. The bad news is that too much choice makes it tough to decide. We compare the Pixel 3 XL, the Galaxy Note 9, the OnePlus 6T, and the Mate 20 Pro.
Deals

The best iPhone deals for November 2018

Apple devices can get expensive, but if you just can't live without iOS, don't despair: We've curated an up-to-date list of all of the absolute best iPhone deals available for November 2018.
Mobile

The new iPad Pro is now available in stores -- here's where to get it

Apple has introduced its new lineup of iPad Pro models. If you're wondering how to get your hands on one, we have you covered. Here's everything you need to know about pricing and availability for the new iPad Pro models.
Mobile

Verizon discounts prepaid plan to $65 for unlimited data with autopay

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Mobile

Here are the best Black Friday deals for the iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, 8, and more

Black Friday is right around the corner and it's a great time to get your hands on an iPhone if you've been thinking of buying one. Thankfully, there are a ton of great iPhone deals for Black Friday, including discounts on the phones.
Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Mobile

Apple will fix these iPhone X, 13-inch MacBook Pro issues for free

Apple launched free repair programs for the iPhone X and 13-inch MacBook Pro with no Touch Bar. Some iPhone X units are suffering from unresponsive touchscreens, while a specific batch of the 13-inch MacBook Pro is prone to drive failure.
Computing

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.
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Deals

The best Apple Watch deals for November 2018

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for November 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Deals

The best iPad deals for November 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for November 2018.