Apple.com no longer shows a product called iPad Wi-Fi + 4G, and has instead renamed it to the the less controversial iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular. The problem with the term 4G is that U.S. carriers have utterly abused it and robbed it of any consumer-helpful meaning.
Originally intended to refer to the still upcoming LTE-Advanced standard, carriers quickly discovered it was easier to right 4G on boxes than to actually build 4G networks and no one, no industry association or regulatory authority stood up to them. Current LTE became marketed as 4G. Sprint marketed WiMax as 4G. T-Mobile marketed HSPA+ as 4G. And now AT&T markets phones that barely qualify as anything faster than HSPA as 4G.
Of course that’s confusing to consumers. Current LTE can hit a theoretical speed of 72mbps. HSPA+ can hit 42mbps. Some is only 21mbps. Some is only 14.4mbps. Real life results are lucky to even reach half that.
Yet they’re currently all plastered with 4G.
At the iPhone 4S launch in October 2012, Apple refused to take part in the 4G name games, but at the iPad 3 launch, they went with 4G on the box for both current LTE and HSPA+ (and added 4G to the previously 3G iPhone status bar for AT&T…). And Apple chose not to support LTE outside the U.S. and Canada.
Needless to say, customers outside the U.S. were non-plussed and regulators were not amused.
Renaming iPad Wi-Fi + 4G to iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular is longer and not quite as neat looking, but it sidesteps all the 4G BS rather neatly.
The next generation iPhone is also expected to have LTE capabilities, though it’s not know if it will be U.S. and Canada-only, or more expansive. Since Apple hasn’t used any radio speed descriptors in the name of the iPhone since the 2008 iPhone 3G and 2009 3GS (3G + Speed), this is hopefully the last we’ll hear of the issue.
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Apple renames iPad Wi-Fi + 4G to less controversial iPad Wi-Fi + Cellular