Updating an iPhone 4s from Straight Talk 3G to 4G

A reader, Amanda, asks…

I currently have an iPhone 4s using Straight Talk that has TFW 3G and been using this for over a year. Does this mean if I buy the 4G sim card Straight Talk now has, will I then have 4G?

Hi Amanda,
To answer your question…
No, You do need to update your SIM. The article you commented on was about 4G LTE service. Only the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5 support 4G LTE. Your iPhone 4s and the iPhone 4 do not.

And to be more specific…
You may however be able to update your iPhone 4s so that the status bar displays 4G instead of 3G and your data speeds may or may not improve. If you are using the Straight Talk AT&T network-compatible SIM and your iPhone’s carrier is TFW 15.7, you can revert to the previous version Carrier TFW 15.6. You won’t know if this will make an improvement unless you use an a app, SpeedTest, from the App Store to measure how fast your data connection is before and after you install TFW 15.6. I wrote an article about how to do this here: How To Change Your iPhone’s Carrier from TFW 15.7 back to TFW 15.6 for Straight Talk and Net10 Customers.

If you want to understand a little more about this whole LTE, 4G, 3G Stuff…

But that’s not the end of the story. There is a cell phone technology called HSPA+. HSPA+ isn’t 4G LTE, but it’s faster than 3G service. So back in March 2012, AT&T and some other wireless companies started to refer to HSPA+ as 4G for marketing reasons.

AT&T had a big problem. They were building their 4G LTE network and marketing it heavily, but their best selling smartphone, the iPhone 4s didn’t support 4G LTE. So they got creative and starting calling HSPA+ 4G and marketing their 4G network. They issued a carrier update for the iPhone that changed the status bar to display AT&T 4G instead of AT&T 3G when you have a HSPA+ connection. Problem solved, their best selling smartphone on their new 4G network!

Straight Talk customers using the Straight Talk AT&T network-compatible SIM you saw this same change too. Your status bar changed from HOME 3G to HOME 4G. Sometime last year, the Straight Talk issued their own carrier update, TFW 15.6, network name changed from HOME 4G to TFW 4G.

Then last fall Straight Talk issued carrier update, TFW 15.7. They undid AT&T’s brilliant marketing and changed the network indicator back to 3G. And customers freaked out. I had many Straight Talk customers asking how to get their 4G back. Many felt cheated.

It gets even better, for some reason this carrier update, TFW 15.7, caused many people’s iPhone’s data connection to slow down to unusable speeds. Their speeds weren’t typical 3G speeds, it was even slower than 2G speeds. I had installed TFW 15.7 and I saw the 3G occasionally (my iPhone 5 gets LTE 99% of the time). But I can’t say this 3G service I was getting was any slower than the 4G I had in the past.

To help the readers out, I ended up finding a way to revert the carrier update TFW 15.7 back to TFW 15.6 and I wrote an article about this that I mentioned earlier.

Finally…
I was looking through the comments. Were you using a BLU phone last year? If so care to share a sentence or two about how you liked the phone?

2 Comments

  1. Eugene | | Reply

    I had the BLU and I won’t advise anyone to buy it. There is no memory on it. They say 8gb but 6 of it is already used up from the pre-installed apps. It was a waste of money and a night mare!!!

    • Bob Thompson | | Reply

      Eugene,
      Doesn’t your phone have a memory card slot?

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