iOS 5.1 Turns iPhone 4S into a 4G iPhone on AT&T’s Network

Back in October, just after Apple had launched iPhone 4S, a report claimed that AT&T was working with Apple to change the network indicator to “4G” from “3G”  for iPhone 4S.

Apple has included that change in iOS 5.1 according to the release notes.

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”.

Phil Schiller had explained Apple’s stance at Let’s Talk iPhone event in October:

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 smartphone manufacturers call “4G.” This may be the reason why they have caved in to AT&T’s demand to use the “4G” network indicator for iPhone 4S.

So iOS 5.1 turns iPhone 4S into a 4G iPhone on AT&T’s network, but unfortunately without any increase in speed.

What do you think of this cosmetic change? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: MacRumors

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  • Aaron

    That’s crap!

  • D Barrett


  • Wolverinemarky

    A waste of time putting that in the code especially when they throttle the ones with unlimited data package

  • jbjb

    Well considering LTE isn’t 4G either, what is the big deal? After all the HSPA+ spec is still faster than LTE.

    LTE Advanced is the only technology right now that qualifies for the 3GPP 4G spec and it isn’t out yet.

    • name

      uh, what? Long Term Evolution (700/1700MHz) capable of up to 72Mbps isn’t technically considered 4th generation cellular technology? you are probably wrong.

    • Mark S

      Huh? HSPA+ isn’t faster. It’s fast – I’m averaging 4-5Mbps. But I have a 4G LTE aircard for my laptops – 8Mbps is average. Sometimes I’m over 11.

  • Alex

    So am I understanding this right? The iPhone 4S is getting a 4G icon, even though it’s the same speed as the iPhone4 on the same network but the iPhone4 will keep the 3G icon?

    • iRaafat

      nope u don’t get it actually

    • Rob

      Actually the 4s can get faster speeds then the 4 depending on the area. Sometimes if I do a speedtest from my house on the cell network I can get 7-8Mbps down on my iPhone 4s, while the iPhone 4 can do 7.2 Mbps max but in reality if I did a speedtest on the iPhone 4 it wouldn’t even reach anywhere near 7.2Mbps.

      Though the icon change is pretty much pointless because in most areas AT&T is slow as f**k. I live in NYC and whenever I leave my neighborhood my data speed are way below Verizon 3G speeds and even sometimes even lower than Sprint 3G. It’s rare that I find an area where the speeds are even above 3Mbps besides around my house, which is useless considering I can just connect to my wifi in that case.

  • Alex

    The 4s has faster speeds

  • Damien

    So this just leaves me to wonder whether or not when whatever-gen iPhone actually does 4G, will we be able to keep our unlimited data or have to upgrade to a “4G” plan…

  • OGT

    Ja Ja Ja WTF?

  • thatmffm

    I think this is just scam on AT&T’s part… By calling it “4G” they can force all users with the “unlimited 3G” plan to get one of the dreaded tiered plans.

  • F*ck AT&T

    I wish Steve Jobs hears about this!!!!

  • ItsyourBoy

    I don’t think Steve jobs would have alowed this and it makes no sence because you still have and are paying for 3G service you don’t get the perks of having 4G a higher data cap

    • thenip

      I think you’re right in saying that Steve probably wouldn’t have allowed it.

  • Ddpin

    So now I can use 5gb before being throttled

    • blu

      No, you can’t. the 5 gig limit is for 4G LTE, not 4G.

  • thenip

    AT&T HSPA+ sucks balls!! Is not fast at all. I have AT&T right now and when the next iPhone comes out with 4G, I’ll be switching to Verizon.

  • HumanCentiPad

    Wow now we can all front like we have 4G. Epic fail!

  • GD

    I like it !!!!! What the hell it is faster then Sprints iPhone 4S and Verizon .. Everyone one else is calling HSPA+ 4G … Why not AT&T iPhone 4S

  • fas

    We dont have 4G in India.

  • If anyone gets throttled after 3GB speeds.. I smell another lawsuit.

  • Stupidity is dominant

    I have clocked 14 Mbps on my 4s in Saudi Arabia and I can report that it is more than enough ..I haven’t tried LTE yet but I don’t see a need for it

    • Tom

      Haha, i Belgium i get 200-380 kbps max on 3g, how does that even qualifymas 3g…and i travel around the coutry quite often… Even in the capital its sometimes worse…such a small country yet they cant built 3 powerfull antenas atleast in the centre or something… The cemter of europe my ***, more like centre of manure

  • Greg B

    Its almost like my friends using Verizon and sprint and only having about a block radius to be able to actually be in 4G. Lol. I’ll keel my Iphone4S and my AT&T service.

  • Greg B


  • imobile

    Really bunch of bulls**t. Fake 4g!!! Still I don’t care if it’s true 4g as long as I can browse the Internet and talk at the same time.

  • C

    Leave it to AT&T to make a mess of this
    U got to love it sadly the other iPhone carriers suck much worse so not much one can do

  • Matt

    Using the SPEEDTEST.NET app I ran a test and got 7.04Mbps Down and 4.64Mbps up. I apparently have “4G” on my iphone 4s. It shows the logo so it must be true! 😉 And for reference I am at the corner of Jamacha and Washington in El Cajon, CA.

    • Azures

      Nice, I’m in coacoa beach, and on a good day I get 1-2mbit Download and 1mbit upload speed.

  • Shyann