Confused about Straight Talk Wireless 3G and LTE Network Connections

A reader, Elizabeth, asks…

I am sorry if you have answered this already but I am getting confused reading responses and trying to figure out if they apply to me. Here is my situation:

I bought a iPhone 5s unlocked from Apple. I bought a Straight Talk wireless ATT sim card and have been happily using the service for the last year and a half. We have a brand new ATT tower in town so I have been surprised that I don’t get 4G on my phone but didn’t think too much of it until a friend who has an iPhone 5s on ATT was able to get 4G at my house. I called Straight Talk today and they said that my phone is not 4G compatible. A quick search on the internet (and my friend’s experience) indicates this is just not true.

Is it possible for me to get 4G service on this phone? I have LTE and Cellular Data enabled on the phone.

PS I get 3G now, not 4G.
Thank you!

Hi Elizabeth,
This is a frequently asked question here, and it is a little confusing.

First, I don’t know why you aren’t getting a 4G LTE connection. That said, I can help you understand this.

If you bought your iPhone 5s unlocked at the Apple Store and the model number(on the back of the phone) is A1533, A1457, or A1530 your phone should get a 4G LTE connection when using the ATT network.

If your not getting an 4G LTE connection, it’s possible that the ATT network doesn’t support LTE in your area. If this is the case, you may see your status bar indicator change from 3G to LTE when you travel to an area where LTE is supported.

Also, it helps to understand that ATT uses different status bar indicators. They use 3G, 4G, and LTE. The 4G indicator is used when you have an HSPA or HSPA+ connection. HSPA a type of network connection that is technically fast enough to be considered a 4G technology but slower than 4G LTE. Straight Talk only uses the 3G and LTE indicators, so you’ll see a 3G indicator in your status bar when and iPhone on ATT would display a 4G indicator.
If you want to know the reason why, you can read I Updated My iPhone to Net10 & Straight Talk Carrier Update TFW 15.7 and Now My 4G Is Only 3G!

So if your friend with the iPhone 5s on ATT has a 4G indicator, it’s probably the network in your area. If your friend is seeing a LTE indicator, well, its something else.

If that’s the case, you could try resetting your network settings and see if you get an LTE connection. See Resetting Network Settings on Your iPhone. Sometimes this helps.

If your friend is getting an LTE connection, you can also try swapping SIMs with your friend. See if your phone then gets an LTE connection and their phone gets a 3G connection. While this won’t solve the problem, but will give us a little more information to work with.

Finally, I suggest that you get the SpeedTest app and measure the speed of your data connection. The overall speed is more important that the type of connection you have. Check out this video to see me using the SpeedTest app.
AT&T Prepaid GoPhone Wireless SpeedTest Results – Part 1.

I hope this helps.

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