For those people who have recently installed the iOS 5.1 upgrade to their iPhone 4s, you may have noticed that the ’3G’ that usually shows towards the top left corner of the screen is now emblazoned with ’4G’. This has left many believing that their phone was now running on a 4G network.
The truth of the matter is that the iPhone 4S is now operating on AT&T’s 4G HSPA+ network and AT&T believes that because of this it is appropriate that people see ’4G’ on their phone when connected to HSPA+. But really HSPA+ is not a 4G technology, it is an improved, faster 3G network. It is nearly as fast as 4G in some cases, but not 4G.
This AT&T “marketing tactic” kind of reminds me of the person who does some work to their regular Camaro and decides that it now deserves an “SS” badge. The car is not an SS, will never be an SS but because its almost as fast, they just throw it on their anyway.
The only real way to know for sure that the iPhone 4S is not running on a true 4G network is that the phone does not have the chipset to connect over 4G. So even if HSPA+ was a 4G network, the iPhone 4S would still be connecting at 3G speeds.