To a certain sort of person, the one that travels abroad and doesn’t like to leave their iPhone at home, Apple’s newest objet d’obsession delivers a wonderful feature: it’s a ‘world phone,’ which means it can receive signals from both GSM and CDMA networks. And it works almost everywhere.
Except on AT&T’s 4G network, there is no 4G network.
AT&T, however, doesn’t have any qualms about that, and is currently having Apple fix the new phone to display a ‘4G’ status indicator when connected to AT&T’s HSPA+ network — despite the fact that it is, still, definitely not a 4G network.
We’ve been over this before. ‘4G’ is strictly a marketing term and no one really knows what it means. But what it’s definitely not is AT&T’s current HSPA+ network. AT&T’s version of 4G was a simple matter of branding, really: rather than waiting for their infrastructure to get a complete upgrade and cater to the constant influx of bandwidth-sucking iPhones, AT&T has implemented data caps and re-branded their existing network as ‘4G.’
If you want to get technical about it, see this chart below (note that LTE is a recognized ‘4G standard’):
One big question lingers over this continuing “4G” nonsense: How is AT&T coercing heavyweight manufacturers like Apple to mislead their customers? Carriers haven’t had a problem throwing their weight around in the past. Not long ago they were fighting Apple on this whole ‘world phone’ business, and winning. Then again, iPhone 4S isn’t truly a ‘world phone’ either — it can only be activated on Apple-approved foreign carriers, at predictably inflated rates. What would Jobs do?
Easy: call it 5G.