The iPhone is 3G

3:45 PM -- Why is it I continue to see articles wherein there is a complaint that the iPhone isn’t 3G? Just to set the record straight, by definition, 3G refers to any downlink (from the infrastructure to the subscriber unit) of 144 Kbit/s to 2 Mbit/s. The EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution, really an upgrade to GPRS) technology used in the iPhone, and a lot of other handsets, is rated at 384 Kbit/s, and reports of effective throughput of above 150 Kbit/s have been seen on the Web. The iPhone is 3G. That’s that.

But this does beg the question as to why Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) decided to use what is a decidedly inferior technology in one of the most exciting announcements of the year. Both of the corporate giants have been mum on this, but my theory is that the iPhone is something of an older design already, and moreover AT&T just doesn’t have enough overall network capacity to support a million new users who will all quickly know what HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access) is capable of. Older design? How else can the large number of components -- including 20 screws -- be explained? Maybe there just wasn’t time to do the value engineering, perhaps, given AT&T's announcement horizon?

EDGE, SMEDGE. I think the use of EDGE is nothing more than a minor disadvantage for iPhone users. Over the air data rates will be highly variable no matter what the base technology might be. There’s always WiFi if real speed is required. And, while we’re at it, not having a memory card slot is also a minor issue. The non-removable battery, though -- that’s just plain dumb. What were they thinking? Does Apple really need the battery-replacement revenue on a $500+ phone? And, more importantly, do users need a hassle like that?

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

mdeutsch 12/5/2012 | 3:04:14 PM
re: The iPhone is 3G EDGEis enhanced GPRS, so you argue if it is 2.5G or 2.75G, but it is not 3G as defined by the "owners" -GSM Association
lrmobile_millomar 12/5/2012 | 3:04:11 PM
re: The iPhone is 3G And in any case I don't think that many iPhone users care if their phone is 2G, 2.5G, 3G, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, EV-DO or whatever. What they care about is a stunning user experience. It appears that with EDGE it is stunning.... Stunningly slow.
AllKindsOfThings 12/5/2012 | 3:03:32 PM
re: The iPhone is 3G 3G comes from the 3G Partnership project (3GPP - see http://www.3gpp.org), which is a whole new set of Mobile Communication Standards dedicated to be - as the name says - next thing after what is consideres 2G (GSM - see http://www.gsmworld.com) - the first broadly accepted digital globally system for mobile communication. When this got a packet data connectivity option, that extension was considered to be 2.5G; and the major update to the packet data connectivity performace is EDGE, widely also referred to as 2.75G

EDGE finally DOES improve the really unacceptably slow GPRS exprience to something between one and two times of what you were used as the Highest Speed Anlogue Model Bandwidth (56k) (or ISDN 64k) - something quite a few non- broadband home users of the internet to date do still consider as bearable for their needs (don't ask *me* why they can bear it...).

3G has two siblings based on different Radio Standards, therefore in the US there is a 3GPP2 that however with regard to many aspects of the rest of the 3G specification is seeking to us the same or even literally to copy the results of 3GPP work (which is fine - there are far too man standards out there already)

Of course as 3G gets improvments in the radio uplink performance and spektral efficiency people will use 3.5G, 3.75G for some of this, like for the evolutionary steps for high speed data downlink / uplink.

The industry would not be innovative if they would not be seeking to go beyound what exists, so the deinfition of 4G is is well underway - with the debate of which approach will make it in the wider range of markets in full bloom...

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