Yes, iPhone 4S is HSPA+

Yes, iPhone 4S is HSPA+

There were rumors the 2011 GSM/AT&T iPhone would have an HSPA+ radio for faster download speeds but when Apple announced the iPhone 4S, while they said it would do 14.4 mbps, they only listed it as an HSPA device.

Now, some are of the opinion that anything under 21 mbps should qualify as HSPA+, so iPhone 4S with only 14.4 mbps speed shouldn't qualify. However, 3GPP release 7 doesn't mandate that faster speeds are necessary to qualify as HSPA+ -- a device can support any 3GPP release 7 feature and still be classified as HSPA+. The Qualcomm chipset in iPhone 4S uses 3GPP features, and so it's an HSPA+ radio, speed be damned.

So while iPhone 4S did indeed get its HSPA+, it didn't get the 21 mbps or 42 mbps speed to go with it that many were hoping for. Also, Apple chose to neatly sidestep the whole 4G/fake 4G issue, so we won't open that can of worms here either.

Note: This applies only to the GSM/AT&T iPhone 4S. The CDMA/Verizon/Sprint iPhone 4S retains the same EV-DO rev A

More: AnandTech

Thanks: @nerdtalker, @justin_horn, @varek, @shuxley

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 20 comments. Add yours.

bvonscott says:

Ok this may be a dumb question, but if Apple decided to use an HSPA+ radio, why didnt they enable it to use the full speed that HSPA+ is capable of? Maybe im misunderstanding something but if the radio is there, and the cell tower can handle the signal, why the lower speed? Doesnt make sense...

Chenzo5151 says:

I don't know if you missed his post warlord but vareck said it about as clear as possible it's all about the chip and modulation

Vareck Bostrom says:

21 mbps requires a higher order modulation (64QAM) than the 14.4 mbps (category 10 devices) require, and not all HSPA+ chipsets support that. The first HSPA+ devices in the US (tmobile G2 and my touch 4G for example) were also category 10, 14.4 mbps HSPA+ devices.

Saad Ferdous Ahmed says:

Pardon my ignorance, doesn't HSPA+ (3GPP Rel.7) warrant HSDPA Cat.13 minimum? HSDPA Cat.13 can do up to 17.6 Mbit/s.

Danny Michel says:

little confused. does this mean the cdma iphone 4s gets 14mbs down?

Granadzo2 says:

Who cares as long as is performs twice as fast in real world usage. I have tested several hspa + dual core phones that can barely break 1.5 mpbs down and less than a mb up, this is with full bars and the hspa + icon on. Specs mean nothing unless they perform as stated.

Nat says:

Seriously does it really matter

Tony Allen says:

No, because those speeds are theoretical, I don't know anyone on AT&T/T-Mobile "4G" enhanced backhaul stuff getting more than 6-7Mb on a really really REALLY good day.

jbrandonf says:

It matters because you will never get those speeds on Verizon or Sprint's network.

jbrandonf says:

Same thing about LTE but nobody complains about getting 'only' 10mb/s down.

Just Stop says:

Just because the chip comes with HSPA+ doesn't mean that Apple didn't get it cheaper with HSPA+ turned off. Chip makers do this all the time. Assuming it's HSPA+ from this is not enough.

Andy ( says:

What's in a jargon - A 14.4 is a 14.4 is a 14.4. Calling it a HSPA or HSPA+ makes no difference to users.

Andy Lin says:

It does! If it's HSPA+ then that means low latency! That's all I want, lower latency, HSDPA and HSUPA is fast enough, but latency is too high for VOIP purposes!

Dmullins81 says:

No... If you ARE holding the ATT tower!!! LOL

Joaninha says:

DId you check out STEVE JOBS QUOTES AND TRIVIA APP on the Apple Store???
A nice way of remembering this GREAT MAN on your iOS device!!!
Check the reviews for the opinions of other people ;)
If you like it, please share it!!! :)

Dissatisfied iPhone User says:

Too bad Apple had to jack around. I'm switching from my iPhone to the Galaxy S2.

David Monrial says:

thinking about getting a GS2, how are you liking it compared to ios?

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