Oops: A Third of iPhone Owners Think Their Phones Are 4G

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To 4G or not to 4G? That’s the question currently being marketed to consumers in TV ads and big billboards across the country. And, at least at this stage of the game, it’s the wrong one to be asking.

Survey results from Retrevo take a look at 4G perceptions among potential customers. The conclusion? Many people who own iPhones, BlackBerry phones and Android devices are “misinformed” as to what exactly 4G is.

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In their findings, they state that a disturbingly high number of iPhone owners—34%, or over one-third overall—mistakenly think that their phones are 4G devices. This may or may not be due to some confusion with the name (“iPhone 4”), but it demonstrates pretty clearly that plenty of people have no idea what 4G actually is.

But iPhone owners are hardly alone. Around one-fourth (24%) of BlackBerry owners also think that their phones are 4G, although RIM currently has no 4G phones on the market. Android owners fared slightly better when the question was posed to them, but that may be because there are actual 4G phones available, like the HTC Evo 4G or the Samsung Infuse 4G.

The rest of the survey results can be found here, and there’s some interesting data worth taking a look at.

Which loops us back around to a better fundamental question (two, actually): What the heck is 4G? And how can I check if my smartphone is 4G?

The term 4G refers to the fourth generation of wireless networks, which tout higher data transfer speeds. Some of these are already built, but companies are already manufacturing devices to work within them. In theory, something “4G” is supposed to make your mobile connections stupid-fast à la broadband at home, but that’s still a subject of debate.

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Most phones on the market are still 3G because 4G networks in the U.S. are still in their infant stages. How can you tell? Well, it typically says “3G” near your battery indicator, for starters. But I mean, you guys already knew that.

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.