iPhone 4 – It’s not 4G!

One thing I have noticed lately is that people are incorrectly referring to the iPhone 4 as the iPhone 4G. This also occurred well before the official announcement of the device.  Sure, some people might not know any better but the technological purists amongst us do have a good point as to why we should not be giving the latest iPhone the 4G moniker.

In terms of mobile phone technology, we have (or will have) had the following:

  • 1G (analogue),
  • 2G (digital – GSM),
  • 3G (UMTS, HSPA),
  • 4G (IP based packet-switching).

Strictly speaking, 4G refers to the IMT Advanced  specification of which neither LTE or WiMAX currently fulfil. One of the clinching requirements is 1 Gbps speeds for stationary services and 100 Mbps for mobile services.

So from a technological point of view, you would be incorrect to refer to the iPhone 4 as the ‘iPhone 4G”.

One unfortunate thing is that Apple backed itself into a corner with its conventional naming convention for its devices such as the iPod range. Apple refers to new generations of each device by the same name but incrementing the generational number. For instance, the latest iPod Touch at the time of writing is the “iPod Touch 2nd Generation” which people then abbreviate to “iPod Touch 2G”.

Realistically, Apple isn’t completely to blame but haven’t done anyone any favours.

So if you hear someone talk about the “iPhone 4G”, you can be a little smug in that you know better.

1 comment

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  1. I always knew better when it came to the iPhone 4. You touched on something important about the use of “iPhone 4G” though and that is the fact that ‘G’ has always been Apple’s term for generation. However, I have yet to meet someone who has used the term iPhone 4G and was using it to refer to 4G networking capabilities.

    I think the issue is less that people mean 4G network and rather that more people make their own assumptions about what one means when 4G is used without taking a moment to stop and ask if they mean 4th Gen or a 4G network.

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