Mobile Phones iPhone & iOS 79 79 people found this article helpful Are the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S 4G Phones? By Sam Costello Writer Sam Costello has been writing about tech since 2000. His writing has appeared in publications such as CNN.com, PC World, InfoWord, and many others. our editorial process Facebook Twitter Sam Costello Updated February 26, 2020 iPhone & iOS Switching from Android Tweet Share Email Phone manufacturers and mobile phone companies often hype their phones or networks as 4G (or sometimes 4G LTE). But what does that really mean? The iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S are sometimes referred to as the iPhone 4G, but does that mean that the iPhone 4 is a 4G phone? Wikimedia Commons Short Answer: No, the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S Are Not 4G Phones That says it all: the iPhone 4 and 4S are not 4G phones. At least they're not when by saying "4G" you're referring to the 4G or 4G LTE cellular network standard, which is the successor to the 3G standard used by the iPhone 4 & 4S. This is what most phone companies mean when they say "4G." But the situation is actually more complicated, and potentially confusing, than that. Understanding the full situation requires understanding what people mean when they say something is 4G. The reason this is confusing is because there are two different meanings for "4G." 4G = 4th Generation Cellular Network When most companies, and some people, talk about 4G, what they mean is a phone that is compatible with a 4th generation (i.e. 4G) cellular phone network. 4G networks, also called LTE Advanced or Mobile WiMAX networks (among other names), are next-generation wireless networks used by mobile phone companies to transmit calls and data to mobile phones. This is different from "3G," which refers to a third-generation network or a device that's compatible with one. 4G networks are newer, more advanced networks that are replacing 3G networks. By comparison, 4G networks are faster than 3G networks and can carry more data: Download Upload 4G network speeds up to 1 Gbit/second 500 Mbits/second 3G network speeds up to 14.4 Mbits/second 5.8 Mbits/second While there are some gaps in 4G coverage, most areas nationwide (in the U.S., at least) now have 4G LTE service available for mobile and smartphones. 4G = 4th Generation Phone There's another meaning for "4G." Sometimes people use the term 4G to mean fourth-generation products generally, not those that work with 4G networks specifically. The iPhone 4 is, as the name would suggest, the 4th iPhone model, making it the 4th generation iPhone. But being a 4th generation phone is not the same thing as being a 4G phone. The iPhone 4 Is Not a 4G Phone 4G phones are phones that work on 4G networks. Just like previous iPhone models, the iPhone 4 is not compatible with 4G networks. Because the iPhone 4 only uses the 3G and EDGE cellular networks, the iPhone 4 is not a 4G phone. Neither Is the iPhone 4S The iPhone 4S can download data faster — up 14.4 Mbps — than the iPhone 4, which maxes out at 7.2 Mbps. This isn't 4G speed, but some cell phone companies may promote the iPhone 4S as being a 4G phone or close to a 4G phone. Technically, this isn't true. As mentioned above, being a 4G phone requires compatibility with a specific type of phone network and specific hardware on the phone. The iPhone 4S doesn't have this. The phone companies that sell the iPhone in the U.S. have extensive 4G networks, but this iPhone model doesn't take advantage of them. How About the iPhone 5 and Newer Models? Here's where things get easy: The iPhone 5 and all subsequent iPhone models are 4G phones. That's because they all support 4G LTE networks. So, if you want to get 4G LTE for the fastest cellular data experience, pick up the latest iPhone. More from Lifewire The iPhone 4 Was the First Modern iPhone — and the Most Problematic Here's How Speedy the 4G and 4G LTE Services Are All the Ports and Buttons on the iPhone 5 Explained Which is Better? The Pros and Cons of 3G and 4G Networks 3G vs. 4G: How Do They Compare? What Is the SIM Card in the iPhone? Everything That's New in the iPhone 5? How Fast Is LTE and How Do You Use It? Where to Download iPhone Manuals for Every Model 8 Solutions for When Your iPhone Says No SIM 3G vs. 4G Mobile Networks: The Health Factor What Is FaceTime? 5G Speed: How to Understand the Numbers What Is 3G Wireless Technology? Get More Battery Life out of Your Verizon Android Phone With This Trick to Turn off 4G What Is Hspa+ And What Does It Mean for Your Phone'S Data Speed?