New iOS update shows misleading 4G icon

People with an iPhone 4S who have downloaded the latest firmware update noticed a surprising change.

Too bad it doesn’t actually change anything with the device’s performance, though. At issue is the fact that the new version of iOS somehow pins a little “4G” icon where there used to be “3G.”

For the uninitiated, after they downloaded the update they assumed that somehow their phone magically was now able to tap into a 4G connection. Those who know that isn’t possible were just plain skeptical.

So here’s the problem. Apple has never launched a 4G device before. The new iPad, which goes on sale next week, will be the first. The new iPad will run iOS 5.1, the same software that iPhone 4S owners are updating to.

So, the long and the short of it is most likely Apple changed the operating system’s display so that the 4G icon would start showing up, but somehow whatever algorithm it used to determine if a user is in a 4G zone is being triggered by iPhone 4S customers.

Interestingly, this problem only exists for iPhone customers on AT&T. Those on Verizon are still seeing the correct 3G icon. AT&T and Verizon operate on different mobile network standards, and it’s unclear what exactly triggered this issue.

But to be clear, the showing of a 4G symbol on the iPhone 4S is only a display issue and nothing else. No one with an iPhone 4S has he capability to connect to a 4G network.

No doubt the iPhone 5 will have 4G connectivity, so it could have been that Apple went ahead and specifically triggered a 4G display mechanism for the iPhone, in preparation for the next version. Whatever it is, it’s a problem, and not one that Apple will be able to explain away this time.