Walt Mossberg

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Is the iPhone 4S Really 4G?

Q:

In your recent article about 4G cellular networks, you didn’t mention the iPhone. Do you know if the iPhone 4S, which now indicates (on the AT&T version) that you’re sometimes on 4G, is actually 4G?

A:

The AT&T version of the latest iPhone can take advantage of one of the types of faster networks that has been heavily advertised as 4G, by rival phone makers and by AT&T. It can theoretically download data twice as fast as the prior AT&T iPhone. But like many other phones, it’s using what is essentially a souped-up version of 3G.

When the iPhone 4S first came out, Apple announced it had this higher speed on the AT&T version, but didn’t label it 4G. Now, since a recent operating-system update, these iPhones say they are on “4G” when they are in an area covered by some of AT&T’s faster networks. But the software revision didn’t change the download speed of the phone, only the indicator.

Q:

In your column explaining 4G, you called the LTE networks the fastest. But an engineering friend of mine says current LTE isn’t true LTE, and a faster version is in the works.

A:

The United Nations standards body for telecommunications typically approves yearslong road maps for faster and faster versions of cellular networks and that’s true for LTE, which stands for “Long Term Evolution.”

There’s a future variant, often called “LTE-Advanced,” which is supposed to be much faster. But no U.S. carrier has deployed it yet. Indeed, the current version of LTE is still far from full deployment.

As for whether today’s version is “true LTE,” this is a nomenclature issue that mainly interests technical purists. All you need to know as a consumer, is that LTE today is typically much faster than any other cellular data network you can use.

Q:

I recently purchased a MacBook Pro and also bought Microsoft Office for the Mac, which didn’t include the Access database program. Is there a version of Access for the Mac?

A:

No. Microsoft has chosen not to offer a Mac version. In fact, even for Windows PCs, the two consumer versions of Office, Home and Student and Home and Business, omit Access.

Only the costliest edition, the $350 Professional version, includes it. If you want to run Access on your Mac, you’ll have to install Windows.

Write to Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.


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