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NPD ranks iPhone 4S as America's most popular 4G phone due to HSPA+

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
NPD Group has named Apple's iPhone 4S the most popular 4G smartphone, using a definition of fourth generation mobile networks that includes not just LTE and Sprint's WiMax but also the HSPA+ technology used by T-Mobile and AT&T.

The firm notes that the market for 4G phones grew from 6 percent in the third calendar quarter of 201 to to 35 percent in the fourth, the same quarter that Apple began shipping iPhone 4S.

"The most popular 4G network technology in smartphones was HSPA+, at 22 percent of smartphone sales," NPD group stated in a press release, which noted "top-selling mobile phones for each 4G technology in 2011" as including the HTC Thunderbolt (on Verizon Wireless) for LTE, HTC's EVO (on Sprint) for WiMax, and Apple's iPhone 4S (on AT&T) for HSPA+.

"The only 4G network technology offered by AT&T until 2011 and still the only 4G technology offered by T-Mobile, HSPA+ received a tremendous boost in Q4, because it was the only 4G technology supported by the popular iPhone 4S," the firm stated.

Despite efforts by all the major American carriers to promote their new 4G networks throughout 2011, Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S were by far the most popular phone models in the country, even though Apple never marketed the phones as being 4G.

What is 4G?

A variety of pundits and fans were upset to see Apple adding a "4G" indicator in iOS 5.1 that lights up whenever iPhone 4S activates an HSPA+ connection, arguing that the only legitimate 4G technology is LTE, which no model of iPhone currently supports. Apple refers to the new iPad as being 4G, but it does support LTE on supported carriers, including AT&T and Verizon, for the new tablet.

However, the original definition of 4G wireless mobile technology set by the International Telecommunications Union (as depicted below) required speeds of at least 100Mbit/s, far higher than LTE or any other mobile wireless technology now being built out.




The original definition of 4G also required to a move to packet switched IP networks, rather than the circuit-switched technology used by existing 2G and 3G mobile telephony systems. 4G networks were also supposed to abandon the CDMA spread spectrum radio technology used by today's 3G networks (including Verizon's EvDO and AT&T's GSM/UMTS) in favor of new OFDMA multi carrier transmissions.

None of the systems marketed today as "4G" fit any of these definitions, including the the stopgap version of LTE being built out by AT&T and Verizon and the version of WiMax deployed by Sprint.

It won't be until the successor of today's LTE, a new generation known as "LTE-Advanced," arrives that this original definition of 4G will even become available on the market. A successor WiMax, named "WirelessMAN-Advanced" would also fit the original definition of 4G, but Sprint appears ready to migrate toward LTE rather than continuing its solo effort to use successive generations of WiMax technology.

Real world 4G

People who are adamantly opposed to calling anything "4G" apart from LTE (or WiMax) are not just missing the fact that today's LTE and WiMax aren't actually 4G either, but also the fact that over a year ago, the ITU itself redefined 4G to include today's versions of WiMax, LTE and HSPA+.

Efforts by T-Mobile and later AT&T to describe their fastest HSPA+ technologies as "4G" therefore aren't just delusional marketing slight of hand, but equally legitimate to Verizon and Sprint's marketing of pre-4G versions of LTE and WiMax.

"Following a detailed evaluation against stringent technical and operational criteria, ITU has determined that 'LTE-Advanced' and 'WirelessMAN-Advanced' should be accorded the official designation of IMT-Advanced," the standards body announced in December of 2010.

"As the most advanced technologies currently defined for global wireless mobile broadband communications, IMT-Advanced is considered as '4G,' although it is recognized that this term, while undefined, may also be applied to the forerunners of these technologies, LTE and WiMax, and to other evolved 3G technologies providing a substantial level of improvement in performance and capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems now deployed. The detailed specifications of the IMT-Advanced technologies will be provided in a new ITU-R Recommendation expected in early 2012."

Apple outsells "phony 4G" with "ITU 4G" without even using 4G marketing

That means that purists who ignore the ITU's ability to define its own standards must concede that today's LTE and WiMax products heavily marketed as "4G" by carriers Verizon and Sprint and by Android licensees including HTC, Samsung and Motorola are phony misrepresentations of what 4G was originally intended to represent.

By the same token, if today's LTE being build out by AT&T and Verizon is 4G, then the HSPA+ networks built out by AT&T and T-Mobile are also 4G, as the ITU defines them all in the same category, and all have similar actual throughputs.

The largest difference between Verizon's LTE and AT&T's is that Verizon was motivated to build out its newest network technology the fastest, because its version of 3G, EvDo, was by far the slowest. When AppleInsider tested iPhone 4S on Verizon and Sprint's 3G EVDo networks against AT&T's UMTS network, we consistently found speeds half that of AT&T's, although AT&T's service coverage was often not as broad or as reliable as Verizon's.




Apple has never marketed iPhone 4S as being a 4G phone, despite its ability to connect to next generation networks the ITU has defined as 4G for nearly a year before it was released. This makes it all the more significant that Apple was able to outsell phones being extensively marketed as 4G with both iPhone 4S, as well as the earlier iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, neither of which can connect to mobile networks faster than 7Mbit/s UMTS, a step below the ITU's present definition of 4G.

[ View article on AppleInsider ]
post #2 of 15
Why is the AT&T Speed test hosted by Unwired and the other two by San Fransisco, CA? Would you not need to show all three from the same location and the same server?

Side note, AT&T LTE is night and day compared to AT&T 3G/4G

I travel in and out of a 4G market and LTE market and the difference is insane. Call it what you want but 4G and LTE are two different animals, spin how you want. My LTE Speed tests in Atlanta were insane.
post #3 of 15
4G is many different animals... but we have already forgotten that “3G” was used the same way! What Verizon called 3G and what AT&T called 3G were very different.

Verizon 3G was more fairly equivalent to AT&T EDGE (2G), in both speed and capability. Yet they showed maps saying Verizon’s “3G” coverage beat AT&T’s. Naturally they wouldn’t fairly compare their 3G coverage to AT&Ts much-wider EDGE coverage! That wouldn’t have been as nice a map.

That seems more dishonest that calling HSPA+ 4G. At least HSPA+ truly is faster than 3G. And although the LTE difference does matter (in some places), we do have a nice well-known term for that... LTE.

“G” means generation. If HSPA is fourth-generation, then so be it. Forget the buzzwords and see what speeds are actually delivered in the areas you travel.

Meanwhile, it’s useful to users for Apple’s new iPad status bar to distinguish 3G/4G/LTE separately. And for the iPhone 4S to not use the same indicators would be odd (and cause people who owned both to think something was broken).
post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post

Why is the AT&T Speed test hosted by Unwired and the other two by San Fransisco, CA? Would you not need to show all three from the same location and the same server?

Side note, AT&T LTE is night and day compared to AT&T 3G/4G

I travel in and out of a 4G market and LTE market and the difference is insane. Call it what you want but 4G and LTE are two different animals, spin how you want. My LTE Speed tests in Atlanta were insane.

Who do you think is "spinning" something? NPD is trying to define a market for next gen phone sets, and Apple is clearly differentiating between 4G and LTE, on both the iPhone 4S and on the new iPad.

As for your factual complaints: if you were familiar with Speetest.net, you'd know that the "hosted by" line cycles between the server and its location. "San Francisco" is a location, not a host, mr Sherlock Holmes.

Also, comparing AT&T's buildout of LTE in a specific market with its UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ buildout is not really scientific. Are you comparing the technology, or the site specific implementation of it by AT&T, or the hardware and software implementation of the mobile client you are using? You don't have enough information to know what you're comparing.

But again, if anyone is fudging and mis-marketing 4G, its the Android offerings that throughout 2011 fraudulently advertised speed gains without noting poor coverage in few markets and poor battery life tied to first generation LTE chips. Apple isn't marketing iPhone 4S as a 4G phone. It's just capable of delivering 4G speeds in ideal conditions where the carrier supports fast HSPA+ networks.
post #5 of 15
ThreeUK were going to launch a 42Mbps HSPA+ network as 4G because it was being done in the US, however most the public didn't agree and they decided to call it ultra fast 3G instead.

Anyway, heres a speediest from my 4S, and it seems its faster then what most people get on LTE. http://speedtest.net/iphone/191108862.png. Pretty much all the carriers that the iPhone is on (and round the world) support HSPA.

And HSPA+ goes all the way up to 168Mbps if supported, which is 4G.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hellacool View Post

I travel in and out of a 4G market and LTE market and the difference is insane. Call it what you want but 4G and LTE are two different animals, spin how you want. My LTE Speed tests in Atlanta were insane.

Of course it's different. Few are using LTE's spectrums right now while the 3G spectrums are pretty well saturated. But that's not the point...

Generation should refer to a stage in development. With 3GPP's UMTS '3G' starting out at 384Kb/s I think 14.4Mb/s and onward are well above what AT&T first called '3G' it's not like they were able to update from UMTS to HSPA+ with a firmware update.

... in fact you drive home the point that is wrong with using this nomenclature for marketing -and- as an underlying backend system. You don't give a rat's ass about the tech, you only care about the performance. That's what nearly every other people expects from this technology so if you were to give them the iPhone 3G connected to its maximum of 3.6Mbps HSDPA and the iPhone 4S connected to its maximum of 14.4Mbps HSPA+ they would have the same feeling you do about LTE over HSPA+. From a consumer's perspective isn't that enough?


Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

4G is many different animals... but we have already forgotten that “3G” was used the same way! What Verizon called 3G and what AT&T called 3G were very different.

Verizon 3G was more fairly equivalent to AT&T EDGE (2G), in both speed and capability. Yet they showed maps saying Verizon’s “3G” coverage beat AT&T’s. Naturally they wouldn’t fairly compare their 3G coverage to AT&Ts much-wider EDGE coverage! That wouldn’t have been as nice a map.

That seems more dishonest that calling HSPA+ 4G. At least HSPA+ truly is faster than 3G. And although the LTE difference does matter (in some places), we do have a nice well-known term for that... LTE.

“G” means generation. If HSPA is fourth-generation, then so be it. Forget the buzzwords and see what speeds are actually delivered in the areas you travel.

Meanwhile, it’s useful to users for Apple’s new iPad status bar to distinguish 3G/4G/LTE separately. And for the iPhone 4S to not use the same indicators would be odd (and cause people who owned both to think something was broken).

Excellent points.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Therbo View Post

ThreeUK were going to launch a 42Mbps HSPA+ network as 4G because it was being done in the US, however most the public didn't agree and they decided to call it ultra fast 3G instead.

Anyway, heres a speediest from my 4S, and it seems its faster then what most people get on LTE. http://speedtest.net/iphone/191108862.png. Pretty much all the carriers that the iPhone is on (and round the world) support HSPA.

And HSPA+ goes all the way up to 168Mbps if supported, which is 4G.

You guys need to get your government to let go of that 800MHz spectrum. I don't need to tell you that you're starting to fall behind.

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

 

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post #7 of 15
I had the interesting experience recently of having to restore a jailbroken 4S because Siri and all voice activation ceased working. After a lot of troubleshooting on Cydia I chose to restore the 4S. Since doing so, and updating the OS, I've noticed that Siri works almost 100% of the time whereas before it was less than half (same time of day - commutes mainly). As well, it may be placebo, but I could swear my download speeds are faster. Can anyone confirm that the 4G is purely cosmetic or was there also a software tweak or network change on the part of ATT?
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by docpops View Post

Can anyone confirm that the 4G is purely cosmetic or was there also a software tweak or network change on the part of ATT?

The '4G' label is cosmetic but there were plenty of software updates to the baseband firmware. I think this likely explains how the battery issues were resolved as well.

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

 

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post #9 of 15
Apple TV is the next big thing!
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Apple TV is the next big thing!
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post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by docpops View Post

I had the interesting experience recently of having to restore a jailbroken 4S because Siri and all voice activation ceased working. After a lot of troubleshooting on Cydia I chose to restore the 4S. Since doing so, and updating the OS, I've noticed that Siri works almost 100% of the time whereas before it was less than half (same time of day - commutes mainly). As well, it may be placebo, but I could swear my download speeds are faster. Can anyone confirm that the 4G is purely cosmetic or was there also a software tweak or network change on the part of ATT?

I've seen no such evidence. Still getting 3-10Mbps, as usual, depending highly upon time and place.
post #11 of 15
This is a weird article. It gives great prominence to the old standards chart, then goes on to explain in the fine print that it's been obsolete since the year before last.

The fact is that where anyone chooses to draw the lines between 2/3/4/nth G etc. is essentially arbitrary. The 3GPP body "owns" these standards and can call them Unicorn Tears if they choose to, and all this intertubes pissing and moaning about HSPA+ being or not being real 4G is a boring waste of bandwidth.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

This is a weird article. It gives great prominence to the old standards chart, then goes on to explain in the fine print that it's been obsolete since the year before last.

The fact is that where anyone chooses to draw the lines between 2/3/4/nth G etc. is essentially arbitrary. The 3GPP body "owns" these standards and can call them Unicorn Tears if they choose to, and all this intertubes pissing and moaning about HSPA+ being or not being real 4G is a boring waste of bandwidth.

The original definition of 4G did not become "obsolete." The ITU simply acknowledged that the not quite there yet "transitional" LTE didn't have any more claim to being called 4G than the latest advances of 3G technologies, as both use many of the same technologies and deliver the same range of speeds.

As noted in the article and in comments, the definition of 3G was similarly skewed, with EvDo getting 3G recognition while EDGE did not (everyone insisted it was 2.75G or whatever). Meanwhile, UMTS beats the pants of what Verizon was calling 3G.

It's ironic that everyone is hating on AT&T and T-Mobile for calling its product 4G when it has really been Verizon that has most consistently and vociferously mislead the public about what 3G was and what 4G is.

This appears to be consistent with Gizmodo's long term hate-mongering of AT&T and its contempt for the iPhone. Remember when Giz regularly referred to AT&T as the evil empire and portrayed it with the old AT&T logo and called it a monopoly back from the dead?

Verizon is an equal sister with the new AT&T as being a group of baby bells that sprung from the old AT&T. There is zero difference, apart from the fact that Verizon conglomerated earlier and built a nationwide network faster. There's too much ignorant-fool reporting among bloggers, and not enough factual reality of the type AI has printed here.

I guess that is upsetting to some people, who regularly express a Gizmodo-like contempt for every DED article that appears. And just like Giz, those anonymous trolls are nearly always 100% wrong in their complaints and character assassination attempts.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

Who do you think is "spinning" something? NPD is trying to define a market for next gen phone sets, and Apple is clearly differentiating between 4G and LTE, on both the iPhone 4S and on the new iPad.

As for your factual complaints: if you were familiar with Speetest.net, you'd know that the "hosted by" line cycles between the server and its location. "San Francisco" is a location, not a host, mr Sherlock Holmes.

Also, comparing AT&T's buildout of LTE in a specific market with its UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+ buildout is not really scientific. Are you comparing the technology, or the site specific implementation of it by AT&T, or the hardware and software implementation of the mobile client you are using? You don't have enough information to know what you're comparing.

But again, if anyone is fudging and mis-marketing 4G, its the Android offerings that throughout 2011 fraudulently advertised speed gains without noting poor coverage in few markets and poor battery life tied to first generation LTE chips. Apple isn't marketing iPhone 4S as a 4G phone. It's just capable of delivering 4G speeds in ideal conditions where the carrier supports fast HSPA+ networks.



post #14 of 15
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See Above !



Quote:
Originally Posted by Corrections View Post

The original definition of 4G did not become "obsolete." The ITU simply acknowledged that the not quite there yet "transitional" LTE didn't have any more claim to being called 4G than the latest advances of 3G technologies, as both use many of the same technologies and deliver the same range of speeds.

As noted in the article and in comments, the definition of 3G was similarly skewed, with EvDo getting 3G recognition while EDGE did not (everyone insisted it was 2.75G or whatever). Meanwhile, UMTS beats the pants of what Verizon was calling 3G.

It's ironic that everyone is hating on AT&T and T-Mobile for calling its product 4G when it has really been Verizon that has most consistently and vociferously mislead the public about what 3G was and what 4G is.

This appears to be consistent with Gizmodo's long term hate-mongering of AT&T and its contempt for the iPhone. Remember when Giz regularly referred to AT&T as the evil empire and portrayed it with the old AT&T logo and called it a monopoly back from the dead?

Verizon is an equal sister with the new AT&T as being a group of baby bells that sprung from the old AT&T. There is zero difference, apart from the fact that Verizon conglomerated earlier and built a nationwide network faster. There's too much ignorant-fool reporting among bloggers, and not enough factual reality of the type AI has printed here.

I guess that is upsetting to some people, who regularly express a Gizmodo-like contempt for every DED article that appears. And just like Giz, those anonymous trolls are nearly always 100% wrong in their complaints and character assassination attempts.
post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

This is a weird article. It gives great prominence to the old standards chart, then goes on to explain in the fine print that it's been obsolete since the year before last.

The fact is that where anyone chooses to draw the lines between 2/3/4/nth G etc. is essentially arbitrary. The 3GPP body "owns" these standards and can call them Unicorn Tears if they choose to, and all this intertubes pissing and moaning about HSPA+ being or not being real 4G is a boring waste of bandwidth.

Your reality distortion field emitter appears to be malfunctioning. Please assume the party escort submission position and an automated appleinsider service robot will attend to you shortly.
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