Is the iPhone 4S 4G capable?

Apple clearly states that the iPhone is not 4G capable.

4G means the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards. Obviously it’s the supposed successor to the 3G and 2G families of standards. The peak requirement for 4G standard is 1Gbit per second for low mobility communication.


The technologies labeled 4G are mobile WiMAX (Sprint), HSPA+ (AT&T), and LTE (Verizon). The ITU announced on December 6th 2010 that the current versions of LTE, WiMax and other evolved 3G technologies that do not fulfill the peak requirements could be considered 4G because they represent an improvement on the performance and capabilities of the 3G systems.

Because the ITU has allowed these technologies to be called 4G despite the fact that they do not meet the requirements, carriers and manufacturers have started the marketing engines.

These guys have 4G!

Motorola, LG, and HTC all have Android phones that not only claim to be 4G, but include 4G in their name: Motorolla Atrix 4G, LG Thrill 4G, and HTC Inspire 4G.

What’s really going on here is that one protocol of the world iPhone 4S has theoretical speeds of up to 14.4Mbps. AT&T is the only iPhone 4S US carrier that supports HSDPA (note that all three Android phones above as GSM devices on AT&T’s network). And, as we know from mobile network testing, AT&T’s HSDPA isn’t nearly mature enough to support that in real-world conditions.

The bigger point is that that not all iPhone 4S owners will get these speeds that rival those Android phones, but only because not everyone is on AT&T. The iPhone 4S is theoretically just as fast as the Atrix 4G but only if it’s not held back by an EVDO Rev. A network.

This slide is from Apple’s keynote, so take it with a grain of “Apple wants to make themselves look good” salt. However, it is interesting to note that the iPhone is NOT considered a 4G device by Apple, but compared to 4G devices by other manufacturers it stacks up with theoretical speeds.

In answer to your question: No, the iPhone isn’t a 4G device – but is the Atrix, Thrill or Inspire?

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