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AT&T's "4G" Trio  (Source: AT&T)

The Motorola Atrix 4G with its smartbook dock.  (Source: AT&T via Anandtech)

The Samsung Infuse 4G
Samsung Infuse 4G, Motorola Atrix 4G, and HTC Inspire 4G use HSPA+ to deliver "4G-like" speeds

AT&T aired loads of details on its exciting upcoming 2011 lineup.  Unfortunately dates or even launch windows were precious few.

Most of AT&T's product announcements today revolved around 4G.  Verizon is using LTE for its "4G" efforts, Sprint is using WiMax, T-Mobile is using HSPA+, and AT&T will be using a mix of HSPA+ and LTE. 

In a deliciously ironic twist, AT&T is calling HSPA+ "4G".  Just a couple months back a company spokeperson rebuked T-Mobile for doing this, stating , "I think that companies need to be careful that they're not misleading customers by labeling HSPA+ as a 4G technology.  We aren't labeling those technologies as 4G."

Apparently in its bid to keep up with Verizon and Sprint's aggressive 4G deployments, AT&T has changed its mind about what constitutes 4G.  In fact it announced three new handsets today, all of which its calling 4G -- which will not support AT&T's nascent LTE network and will only support HSPA+.  These devices are thus quasi-4G device like the T-Mobile MyTouch 4G since HSPA+ is an extension of existing 3G wireless technology.

Leading the way was the Motorola Atrix 4G, previously known as Olympus.

The Atrix 4G differentiates itself by packing a dual-core CPU -- NVIDIA's Tegra 2 ARM CPU.  It also comes with an usual extension -- a smart book attachment, that essentially turns the phone into an Android netbook, with a full-size physical keyboard.  A dock will also be offered that allows the phone to transmit video to TVs over Wi-Fi.

The Atrix 4G comes with a 1,920 mAh battery, 1 GB of onboard DRAM, and 16 GB of flash storage.  It has a 4.1-inch screen with an 854x480 pixel resolution.  It was shown running Android 2.2 "Froyo" (how about showing Gingerbread some lovin'?).

A Motorola LTE tablet was also teased at.  AT&T said that tablet would launch "mid-summer".  Expect more details and possibly launch dates for both devices at Motorola's 4 p.m. press conference.

Next up, AT&T announced the HTC Inspire 4G.  The phone comes with a 4.3 inch screen.  Those who aren't big fans of sense may want to stay away.  HTC will be pushing out its "next-generation" Sense UI experience onto the phone.

Among its features is an enhanced boot dubbed "Fastboot" and a smart ringer interface that senses (ha, pun) where the phone is and rings more loudly if its in a pocket or purse.

The new Sense also offers phone finder technology similar to that found in the Apple iPhone.  Users can locate their phone, send a message to a lost phone, or perform a remote wipe in the worst case scenario of a stolen handset.  The phone finder is part of, the company's new platform of "Connected Service" -- various cloud utilities.  Let's hope they exercise sound password protection on the accounts as that remote wipe could be dangerous.

Rounding out the lineup of "4G" HSPA+ handsets is the monstrous Samsung Infuse 4G, which was simultaneously co-announced by Samsung.  The followup to Samsung's best-selling Galaxy lineup features a massive 4.5-inch "Super AMOLED" screen.  While it doesn't have a dual core, it does pack a competitive 1.2 GHz clocked Hummingbird processor.  The device offers an 8 MP rear-facing camera with flash, and a 1.3 MP video chat front-facing camera.  The phone runs on Android 2.2.

Release dates for the HTC Inspire 4G and Samsung Infuse 4G were not revealed.

AT&T says it expects to announce nine other Android devices.  Presumably the twelve new incoming Android devices represent the bulk of the 20 4G devices that AT&T is promising to deliver in 2011. 

If we had to guess, we'd say that the iPhone 5, to air in June will be HSPA+ and not LTE.  Apple is traditionally slow at adopting new technologies like BlueTooth 3.0, USB 3.0, etc. so it would not be terribly surprising if Apple opts not to throw expensive LTE hardware into its iPhone.  In the end Apple could likely justify this in that only a certain percentage of customers will have LTE access -- and be padding its profit margins a bit further.

AT&T has not announced a breakdown of how many LTE devices it plans versus HSPA+ only devices.

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RE: So...
By omnicronx on 1/5/2011 1:28:02 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, my sentiments exactly.

LTE and WiMax are not 4g! they are an evolutionary step to 4g which some call 3.9G.

Not until LTE advanced and the WiMax equivilent will we have true 4G.

Considering current 'LTE and WiMax' networks can barely out muster HSPA+ networks depending on the situation, I can see why carriers and manufacturers are marketing these 3.5G devices as 4G..

RE: So...
By callmeroy on 1/5/2011 1:52:05 PM , Rating: 2 the 4g thing is hilarious these days....

I always think "How many Americans honestly truly think what they have is genuine 4g?"

I say since the carriers pull names out of their rears anyway they should at least come up with colorful names...."Lightning Bolt" or "Comet"....stuff like that...then at least we can get laughs out of it..

RE: So...
By Jedi2155 on 1/5/2011 3:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm getting nearly 9 mbps download and 2 mbps upload on my Samsung Epic 4G, so I think that is a nice upgrade from my 1-3 mbps 3G speeds from my HTC Dream/G1.

RE: So...
By therealnickdanger on 1/5/2011 4:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, my friend gets speeds like that on his T-Mobile MyTouch4G - sometimes he gets 12-14Mb. Technical arguments aside, HSPA+ sure seems like real 4G to me. High speeds, low latency... makes me consider dumping Comcast altogether.

RE: So...
By Solandri on 1/5/2011 5:04:07 PM , Rating: 4
LTE and WiMax are not 4g! they are an evolutionary step to 4g which some call 3.9G.

You know, the G in 3G and 4G stands for generation. I'm not sure how you're supposed to have a 3.9 generation technology. Generations can by definition only be integers, maybe an exception for x.5G representing an interim patch to an existing technology to speed things up a bit. In that respect, WiMax and LTE, being completely new transmission standards, do in fact represent an integer increment to the generation moniker.

The problem has only cropped up because carriers have been reluctant to publish actual transmission speeds. If I want to know what speeds I can get from WiMax, I have to ask around on the SprintUsers forums for customers to tell me their experience. If the carriers would just put their money where their mouth is and advertise min/max/expected speeds, nobody would care if we called it 3G or 4G. But because they refuse to do this and are instead using xG as some alias for transmission speed, we get into these silly arguments about what is 3G and what is 4G.

Can you imagine the chaos if everyone trying to get wired Internet for their home had to deal with this 3G/4G nonsense, instead of being told that for $50/mo you will get a 12 Mbps down/3.5 Mbps up connection? Oh wait, you don't have to imagine it, it's the reality of the wireless industry.

RE: So...
By Targon on 1/6/2011 1:34:10 PM , Rating: 2
LTE is clearly a technology that is a full generation above the current 3G technologies out there. Now, just because available speeds may not be up there does not mean the protocol does not deserve being called 4G.

Many cable modems for example can handle 100Mbps, but just because the provider does not give you that speed does not mean that the equipment can not handle it.

LTE as it is currently out there SHOULD be able to handle higher speeds, but why push it if the network isn't ready to handle the demand?

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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