This Is My Next reports that AT&T is working with Apple to change the network indicator to “4G” from “3G” for their new iPhone 4S. As you may recall, the iPhone 4S supports 14.4 Mbps HSDPA, which is marketed by some carriers around the world as “4G” technology even though technically speaking it’s not “4G”.
So this news is surprising considering Apple’s track record of not bowing to carrier demands.
Phil Schiller explained Apple’s stance at Let’s Talk iPhone event:
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.
Clearly, Apple feels that the iPhone 4S meets or exceeds current standards for what some companies call “4G.” This may be why they are caving to AT&T’s desire to use the “4G” network indicator for iPhone 4S. But Mac Rumors points out that it may not be so clear for customers:
“4G” is a marketing term that is being applied to both LTE and HSPA+ networks, leading to some customer confusion over just what exactly the term means. AT&T markets both its HSPA+ and LTE services as being 4G, and thus it believes that the iPhone 4S, which supports 14.4 Mbps HSDPA, should be marketed as offering 4G speeds.
Regardless of the moniker, AT&T’s customers will definitely have the fastest speeds on their iPhone 4S, since iPhone 4S is not compatible with Verizon’s faster 4G LTE and Sprint’s WiMAX 4G networks. As such, it seems only natural that AT&T would want to capitalize on this.
The indicator will reportedly be changed via an iOS software update from Apple sometime after iPhone 4S launch. Will AT&T’s customer’s be confused by the “4G” indicator? Will users switch to AT&T because of it? Share your thoughts below.