The 4G Confusion Of AT&T

Want to see what a mess AT&T has made by calling its HSPA+ network 4G? Look at my two “4G” AT&T phones below, one the iPhone 4S, the other the Galaxy S II Skyrocket:

The iPhone is reporting 3G speed, even though it’s getting what AT&T would have you believe is its first “layer” of 4G speed, through the HSPA+ network.

The Galaxy II is reporting 4G speed, even though it’s getting exactly the same HSPA+ connection that the iPhone 4S.

The Galaxy II is also reporting 4G speed even though it is NOT getting the much faster speed it would get if AT&T’s 4G LTE network was live in my area. My understanding is that if I did get this speed, it would say 4G LTE.


Apple apparently has prevented AT&T from forcing it to show a 4G indicator for HSPA+ connections — and good for Apple.

Meanwhile, AT&T’s decision to call HSPA+ “4G” means that on what I’d consider the first 4G phone I’ve actually owned from AT&T, that 4G indicator is meaningless unless it says 4G LTE.

For the record, I’ve also got a 4G LTE phone from Verizon, a Droid Charge. Whatever claims AT&T wants to make about HSPA+, my Droid Charge’s speed leaves the iPhone 4S in the dust.