iOS 5.1 magically adds 4G to your AT&T iPhone

A wand adding 4G to an iPhone

If you've updated your AT&T iPhone to iOS 5.1, you may have noticed that the signal indicator in the top-left now reads 4G instead of 3G. Now, before your mind gets blown all over the place, there's no actual upgrade here; it's just your garden-variety marketing doucherosity wriggling its slimy way into a software update.

AT&T could not possibly abide by competitors have more or higher-quality "Gs" than they do, so they've had Apple arbitrarily change the wording of the signal indicator. They've apparently been trying to do this for months, though why Apple caved is still hard to understand.

Of course, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has made it so that carriers can do this without repercussion. They're allowing HSPA+ 14.4 and faster networks to be called 4G right alongside 72mbps and faster LTE networks, and they've ruined any practical use of talking in terms of 3G or 4G networks; in fact, AT&T has already been taking plenty of advantage of this opportunity with Android devices.

Yes, as we joked and feared, AT&T has beaten Apple to create a 4G iPhone.

So welcome to the world of 4G, AT&T iPhone owners. Do you feel faster? Does simply seeing "4G" on your home screen make you feel more in the future?

Source: @ichadman

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Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

iOS 5.1 magically adds 4G to your AT&T iPhone


Lightning fast??? When?
iPhone 4s radio-modem has Only maximum speed of 14.4 max but you can’t reach it even you are connected to a 42mbps hspa+ by tmobile (if the iPhone has aws)…
I had iPhone 4s with AT&T till last week of January and been travelled to Texas,new York and California and the fastest I saw in was 8mbps, then right now I have GALAXY NEXUS in Verizon and I saw some speedtest here in Texas - 42mbps down & 15mbps up but on iPhone 4s who has modem of ONLY 14.4mbps hspa+ by AT&T cant reach more than 10mbps as it cannot maximize the theoretical speed of the modem...
I know because my cousin works for them in Dallas Texas as field engineer) they don’t have 42mbps hspa+ like tmobile then they have some cities with 21hspa+ but I can count on my fingers how few it is as they focus only on 14.4 then LTE 8…
Saying 4g for a 14.4 Mbps (theoretical) capable phone is STUPID but to a phone with modem of 21mbps-up is accepted as 4G in my book as you can play 1080p movie live streaming easily without buffering.
It's like have a Chevrolet aveo and will tell to the world that it will run like a Bugatti veyron...

Dude! Chill!
The FanDroid Koolaide is fogging your brain a little.
Read the article and then read Magnus's comment again. He is using a literary device called IRONY.
Perhaps you read about it in high school english class.

I have lots APPLE prodcuts but when it comes to smartphones, I will only get the NEXUS phones, because it's more advance and much faster in web browsing.
Also, don't lecture me about english, stupid...

You are still missing the point.
We all know that the 4G designation is bogus! We know our 4S phones won't go faster just because the heading changed. That was the point of the article.
But if the Troll suit fits. . .

Hahaha I can't believe they pulled that Maybe if you have a 4s there's justification for it but seriously for a 4 and 3G/3GS? and I have a iPhone 4... It'll just make me feel stupid. :(

I don't believe a 4 or 3G/3GS can because they aren't HSPA+. They won't ever display 4G. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

You must be correct cuz I have the 4 and I still see the 3g. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

just deleted all the joy i wrote about before reading "ow, before your mind gets blown" so yeah. never mind.

It's not dumb folks. Sprint does this crap. Their 4G is as fast as ATT's 3G. ATT is rightfully evening the score.I look foward to this update.

It's just ridiculously illogical. I dislike anyone that asks me for money every month. It's like any other utility. I'm a necessary evil but still evil.

Mike is correct. Only the Iphone 4s can achieve 4g speeds.
Don't hate guys. At&t's network is as fast as verizons 4g network. I've done the speed tests

This is actually a little bit useful, if it only displays on the 4s and only if it is on HSPA+. If it just replaced the 3G with a 4G, then it is useless and a marketing gimmick.
It would be nice to see some 4s HSPA vs 4s HSPA+ speed comparisions...

Let's remember... The term 4G is subjective still. There has been no standardizing of it.
Heck if a phone company's 4th Generation is EVDO - they could technically make it "4G."
Now - if it said "4G LTE" - That will be different.
The biggest problem? Store reps that are more uneducated than the customers. "Yes, the iPhone is 4G - See?" Grr.

Looks like Samsung will have to pull that commercial where the guy with the Galaxy S II scoffs at the iPhone users who just have "3G" (even though they're both HSPA+). As someone stated above, this is useful for knowing if your phone is on HSPA+ or not since it should theoretically drop back to "3G" if you leave the faster network.

So wait, if it now says '4G' does that mean AT&T won't throttle me until 5GB as opposed to 3GB with my grandfathered unlimited plan?

No, SF guy that is NOT what they are saying at all. The ONLY people that are going to get throttled ar the ones who are on throld Grandfathered unlimited data plan. Throttling starts at 3GB for a non-LTE phone an 5GB for an LTE phone. If you have a non-unlimited plan, then throttling is a NON-issue

The most I get out of my iPhone 4s is maybe 10 down and 1.5 up and thats at about 12am completely surrounded in actual 4g coverage..

I updated my 3Gs and it still says 3G. Maybe it's a location thing? I don't live in a metro area.

Don't feel bad. If yours said "9G", it would benefit you as equally as this 4G nonsense.

For now only the 4S on AT&T will display 4G, and only when on a HSPA+ network, the iPhone 3G 3GS and 4 cannot connect at the higher speed and will not display the '4G' network icon.

Very interesting.... Only a few days did look at my statement from AT&T and saw that my data plan was "4g for iPhone" or something along those lines.... I haven't updated to 5.1 but let's hope that it'll jump to 4g when it's on HSPA+. Anyone else see the 4g plan on their statement?

Just looked at my statement and it definately days "DataPro 2GB on 4G for iPhone 4s...." werd.

So 4G has a 5GB data allowance on unlimited. Do I now get to use my 4G for that? If not then perhaps AT&T shouldn't falsely advertise 4G if they don't want to offer data or speed benefits.

Yeah, noticed my 4S got a brand-new radio in it today. +1!
Yeah, and I believe I still have unlimited data, too. It's that kinda day.

Some of you people are dumb.
Only the iPhone 4s will display 4g.
Providence, Rhode island. 14mbps download on iPhone 4s. Using speed test app. Way faster than my buddy's iPhone 4s on verizon he got a lousy 8mbps
This helps me because now I know when I'm on HSPA+

True. I would just be more honest if it was indicated with "3G+" instead. But hey, it's AT&T.

I know you are lying...
iPhone 4s radio has Only maximum speed of 14.4 max but you can't reach it eve you are connects to a 42mbps hspa+ by tmobile (if the iPhone has aws)...
I had iPhone 4s with AT&T till last week of January and been travelled to Texas,new York and California and the fastest I saw in was 8mbps.
Make a video showing that you are not connected in wifi and running on 14.4mbps hspa+ by AT&T (I know because my cousin works for them in Dallas Texa as field engineer) they don't have 42mbps hspa+ like tmobile then some cities with 21hspa+ but I think I can count on my fingers how few it is as they focus only on 14.4 then LTE 8...
Saying 4g for a 14.4mbos capable phone is STUPID but to a phone with modem of 21mbps-up is accepted as 4G.
So, DON'T LIE...

Also I will add you said...
iPhone 4s in Verizon for 8mbps is NOT POSSIBLE, DUMBASS...
They are using the very slow evdo and the fastest I saw in videos and in the stores was 5mbps...

Well now those percent who thought their iphone had 4g because it was called the 4 will at least feel somewhat brighter hahah

I love how this is filled with Verizon fanfags. If anyone was smart enough they would do their research other than the bull rumors everyone comments about on the interwebz. Grow up and read something other than google searches and wiki-know-nothings

I'm in Los Angeles and according to the AT&T coverage map I have H+. I've never seen much over 3Mbps. If this thing could tag plain 3G verses 14Mbps, I'd be okay with it. Then I'd only see 3G, of course... Probably most people in LA! Except for the rare occasions that I download a podcast or watch a Netflix, don't know if I'd otherwise be able to tell the difference.

AT&T is a joke. I feel bad for all of the iPad buyers that bought the AT&T LTE iPad. AT&T will do what they did with the original iPhone...sign up more people than they're network can handle, then we'll all be in the same boat with their LTE. RIP AT&T...its gonna happen, its inevitable.

I have actually gotten quicker speeds
In some areas. Very nice, thank you apple and AT&T.

Does ATT know they can just jailbreak and put any icon they want there? It would of saved them a bunch of hassle.

Hi to everyone, this is my first post, because I REALLY need help.
Everywhere i see know this advertisements about Forex thing, got attracted, started to read about it, but still really confused about What is forex .
All the explanations i find on the internet are very complicated. Too many smart words.
Can someone explain what is forex by his own words ?
Tired of websites.

Ive just upgraded the software but mt phone still has 3G is that because I have a 4 and not a 4s

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Haha, you know, I thought it was kinda weird the other day when I glanced at my phone (iPhone 3GS) and I see "4G" displayed. Caught me off guard. Only lasted 5 mins b4 going back to 3G but it was long enough to make me ponder wtf was that all about lol.

Is this any different than T-Mobile's commercial comparing their 4G HSPA++ network to AT&T's 3G network. Run your iPhone up against a two year old SGSII and see how that goes.

You fanboys crack me up. If Apple was so smart, why did they ditch Google Maps and then come crawling back when Apple maps burned into the atmosphere?