So does the AT&T iPhone 4S always show 4G even if you aren't in a 4G area?

SRLMJ23

Contributor
Original poster
Jul 11, 2008
2,068
1,002
Central New York
Say i'm somewhere where its just 3G or maybe even EDGE, will this always show 4G, I'm especially curious about the 3G issue.
 

soco

macrumors 68030
Dec 14, 2009
2,832
107
Yardley, PA
Before I answer, I'm curious why it matters? Not being snide, just asking. It's just an indicator, and a false one.

The answer would be no. If on EDGE, it shows (at least on my co-worker's phone running 5.1 on AT&T) EDGE. On 3G though, it falsely shows 4G.

We live in a ridiculous world. It is what it is. :rolleyes:
 

GraphicsGeek

macrumors 6502a
Sep 19, 2008
533
0
Say i'm somewhere where its just 3G or maybe even EDGE, will this always show 4G, I'm especially curious about the 3G issue.
That's like asking if the wifi indicator will show when your connected to 3G. Why would it show when you're not in a "4G" area? The 4G indicator will show when your in a HSPA+ (ie. "4G") area and connected as such.
 

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,334
1,710
Is all of AT&T towers been upgraded to HSPA+? If so I'd say it's fine to show 4G since I read somewhere the IUT now considers HSPA+ 4G.

Still think its a little shady to not just say H+ or something. Should just tell you what it is (EDGE, 3G, HSPA+, LTE). There is a lot of weird marketing and confusion around 4G.
 

sviato

macrumors 68020
Oct 27, 2010
2,280
44
HR 9038 A
I don't see why it doesn't correctly show H+ like Blackberrys do. 4G is thrown around so loosely now I guarantee most consumers are confused.
 

soco

macrumors 68030
Dec 14, 2009
2,832
107
Yardley, PA
This is the problem with generational marketing. If the technology doesn't actually upgrade and become usable on a generation-by-generation basis, what's the point?

People are capable of learning that LTE means "faster than 3G" despite what most of us arrogant know-it-all's might like to think. 4G is a generalization that only serves to over-simplify something that was meant to be more complex for a reason.
 

parseckadet

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2010
1,124
623
Denver, CO
Before I answer, I'm curious why it matters? Not being snide, just asking. It's just an indicator, and a false one.

The answer would be no. If on EDGE, it shows (at least on my co-worker's phone running 5.1 on AT&T) EDGE. On 3G though, it falsely shows 4G.

We live in a ridiculous world. It is what it is. :rolleyes:
This isn't entirely accurate. There are areas where AT&T provides 3G coverage that is not HSPA+. So it's not a situation where you either have EDGE or "4G". There is a middle option, and I would expect that the iPhone would indicate 3G in those areas. However, I haven't traveled around at all since the 5.1 update, so I can't confirm this. I live in an area that is HSPA+, and thus I always see 4G.
 

b-rad g

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2010
895
1
Say i'm somewhere where its just 3G or maybe even EDGE, will this always show 4G, I'm especially curious about the 3G issue.
I can answer this. Mine shows 4G when I'm anywhere I've always gotten 3G in the past. But we do have some parts around where I live that don't get 3G and I will get the "E" for the Edge network.
 

SRLMJ23

Contributor
Original poster
Jul 11, 2008
2,068
1,002
Central New York
This isn't entirely accurate. There are areas where AT&T provides 3G coverage that is not HSPA+. So it's not a situation where you either have EDGE or "4G". There is a middle option, and I would expect that the iPhone would indicate 3G in those areas. However, I haven't traveled around at all since the 5.1 update, so I can't confirm this. I live in an area that is HSPA+, and thus I always see 4G.
Thank you, thats exactly what I was trying to say, he said it perfect. 3G still exists, so I wanted to know if you're somewhere where there is 3G and no 4G is it still going to show 4G??
 

soco

macrumors 68030
Dec 14, 2009
2,832
107
Yardley, PA
This isn't entirely accurate. There are areas where AT&T provides 3G coverage that is not HSPA+. So it's not a situation where you either have EDGE or "4G". There is a middle option, and I would expect that the iPhone would indicate 3G in those areas. However, I haven't traveled around at all since the 5.1 update, so I can't confirm this. I live in an area that is HSPA+, and thus I always see 4G.
No, that's what I was addressing. Sorry I wasn't more clear. I meant to point out that even in 3G-only areas, you're falsely shown a 4G indicator.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,527
3,422
PHX, AZ.
Thank you, thats exactly what I was trying to say, he said it perfect. 3G still exists, so I wanted to know if you're somewhere where there is 3G and no 4G is it still going to show 4G??
No, that's what I was addressing. Sorry I wasn't more clear. I meant to point out that even in 3G-only areas, you're falsely shown a 4G indicator.
NO... if you're on an HSPA tower, you will get a 3G icon.
If you're on an HSPA+ tower, you will get a 4G icon.
Already tested this on my wife's iPhone.
 

parseckadet

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2010
1,124
623
Denver, CO
No, that's what I was addressing. Sorry I wasn't more clear. I meant to point out that even in 3G-only areas, you're falsely shown a 4G indicator.
Are you speaking from personal experience here? If so, care to share where this is happening? If what you were saying were true, then we would be seeing the 4G indicator on the iPhone 4 as well, and I've not heard anything of the sort.
 

soco

macrumors 68030
Dec 14, 2009
2,832
107
Yardley, PA
Are you speaking from personal experience here? If so, care to share where this is happening? If what you were saying were true, then we would be seeing the 4G indicator on the iPhone 4 as well, and I've not heard anything of the sort.
No, not personal experience. It's annecdotal from a co-worker that's not present. Could be wrong.
 

parseckadet

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2010
1,124
623
Denver, CO
No, not personal experience. It's annecdotal from a co-worker that's not present. Could be wrong.
I would be interested to know what area your co-worker was referring to. If you look at AT&T's coverage viewer, the dark blue areas would show 4G, the light blue would show EDGE, and the medium blue would show 3G.
 

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,334
1,710
I'd like to see a 3G indicator on the about screen showing 5.1 to get rid of any doubt.
 
Last edited:

BiggAW

macrumors 68030
Jun 19, 2010
2,542
170
Connecticut
This isn't entirely accurate. There are areas where AT&T provides 3G coverage that is not HSPA+. So it's not a situation where you either have EDGE or "4G". There is a middle option, and I would expect that the iPhone would indicate 3G in those areas. However, I haven't traveled around at all since the 5.1 update, so I can't confirm this. I live in an area that is HSPA+, and thus I always see 4G.
Correct. The problem is, AT&T uses the HSPA+ air interface even in 3G areas where the backhaul can only support "3G" speeds, even though the air interface can do "4G" speeds. Note that I put them in quotes, since I still don't believe HSPA+ is 4G. The iPhone seems to not differentiate at all, even though some Android phones have some way of differentiating.
 

rjohnstone

macrumors 68040
Dec 28, 2007
3,527
3,422
PHX, AZ.
Correct. The problem is, AT&T uses the HSPA+ air interface even in 3G areas where the backhaul can only support "3G" speeds, even though the air interface can do "4G" speeds. Note that I put them in quotes, since I still don't believe HSPA+ is 4G. The iPhone seems to not differentiate at all, even though some Android phones have some way of differentiating.
Differentiating is easy and the 4S can do it. If AT&T is using an HSPA+ radio on a slow tower, it's still technically a 4G signal.
So the phone will report it correctly.
And no, AT&T doesn't do this on towers where the backhaul is not being upgraded any time soon.
There are plenty of 3G towers all over the US that don't use the HSPA+ interface.
I can point out at least a dozen here in AZ within a 30 minute drive.

The 4 cannot differentiate since it doesn't support HSPA+ in the first place.

As for what you believe is 4G and what isn't is irrelevant.
The standards setting body (ITU) has changed the definition, so it is what it is. People need to let it go already.

Hell, even LTE doesn't meet the old definition of 4G.
LTE Advanced does.
 
Last edited:

parseckadet

macrumors 65816
Dec 13, 2010
1,124
623
Denver, CO
In and around Queens, NY.
Queens is very solidly HSPA+ territory, so your co-worker's experience has no bearing on the discussion at hand. Also, quibbling over whether HSPA+ qualifies as 4G has no bearing either. There are PLENTY of other threads which discuss this, there is no need to rehash those arguments here.

The question was whether there is ever a time when an iPhone 4S would display the 3G indicator on AT&T. I believe the answer is yes, in situations that I've already explained.
 

cynics

macrumors G4
Jan 8, 2012
11,334
1,710
Not completely doubting anyone but I'd still like to see a screenshot so I could say for sure in future discussions.

Seems like you mention anything about a battery and there are a dozen screen shots in 10 minutes. Ask about the 3G indicator and even have a dedicated thread and there's nothing besides hearsay.
 

Sketchr

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
950
120
I have to say this, HSPA+ on att is faster than what Sprint deems as "4G". ATTs HSPA+ can't compare to LTE but it's definitely faster and more reliable than what Sprint has called its supposed "first 4G " wimax "first to have a 4G phone" for the past couple of years...