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Sprint Ad Uses the iPhone to Show Off Its 4G Network (Yes, That iPhone)

Sprint’s new ad suggests you “make your iPhone 4G.” It’s a snappy headline, and grabs eyes better than “make your Motorola Cliq 4G”–and it’s real, even if it’s not particularly practical.

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Sprint’s Overdrive portable Wi-Fi hotspot is similar to Verizon’s MiFI: it’s equipped with a wireless antenna like a phone, but instead of merely using it, it exports it as a Wi-Fi network that any device with a Wi-Fi antenna can use. The MiFi is great, but it’s still just a 3G network–Sprint’s Overdrive uses Sprint’s fledgling 4G network, which is several times faster and in daily use often approaches the speed of a home broadband network.

So the Overdrive is compatible with any Wi-Fi device: laptops, most smartphones, PMPs like the iPod Touch and Zune HD, and a whole host of other connected gadgets. But to suggest the iPhone plays on all the dreams of annoyed iPhone owners: keep the device, but take advantage of a wireless carrier less consistently frustrating than AT&T.

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Unfortunately, it’s not particularly practical. For one thing, you’d need two separate data plans, in addition to a voice plan; the iPhone requires an AT&T voice and data plan, and the Overdrive another. You’d be paying out the ear to let one data plan sit fallow. But the other problem is, speed isn’t the issue with AT&T. Sprint’s 4G network is far faster, of course, but in a recent independent test, AT&T proved the fastest of the 3G networks. It’s reliability that’s the problem–and Sprint’s 4G is not particularly widespread due to its youth.

Anyway, all that arguing mostly misses the point of the ad, which is to say “Ha ha, iPhone owners, don’t you just hate AT&T?” and to remind us all that it’s Sprint that’s pushing forward with the earliest 4G network. Good for them.

About the author

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Popular Science, The Awl, Gizmodo, Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. He holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and currently lives in Brooklyn, because he has a beard and glasses and that's the law

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