Will Apple call the next gen iPhone the 4G? Most have been calling the unannounced device the iPhone 5, but recent reports speculate that Apple could end up calling it the 4s (like the 3GS).

AT&T has changed its 4G nomenclature to include devices that previously weren’t fast enough to be considered “4G.” In AT&T’s latest series of marketing campaigns, they have started to call slower devices “4G.” The devices that are referenced by AT&T posses the same speeds as what is expected from the next iPhone.

This is My Next explains the 4G terminology,

“To be very clear, “4G” meant virtually nothing already; it just means less than ever now. Of course, branding is often meaningless and misleading — no surprise there — but in AT&T’s case, it also means that HSPA users are being placed on “4G” data plans that are completely independent of their “3G” equivalents. This isn’t merely a possibility, it’s already happening to everyone that’s got a device with “4G” in its name. And there’s nothing stopping them from pricing these plans differently or offering 4G-specific data buckets down the road. With AT&T’s promise to launch 20 “4G” devices this year, we’re looking at a lot of subscribers — and many of them won’t be on HSPA+ or LTE.”

4G devices originally possessed speeds of up to 21Mbps on T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network, but AT&T has started calling average, 14.4Mbps HSPA devices ‘4G’ as well in its marketing.

Handsets like the HPalm Veer 4G and HTC Inspire 4G have been given the 4G title, even though they operate on the same Qualcomm chips as the iPhone.

The next gen iPhone is expected to use the same Qualcomm chip as the current Verizon iPhone, which would make it a dual-mode phone for all U.S. carriers. Verizon’s CFO recently let the cat out of the bag by calling the next iPhone a “global device.”

Because AT&T is already calling devices of the same network caliber as the iPhone “4G,” it stands to reason that the carriers will want Apple’s next smartphone to adopt that naming scheme. Even if Apple refused to call it the iPhone 4G, the device would still be classified as 4G by the carriers.

We’ve had the iPhone 2G, 3G, 3GS, and 4. Apple moved away from the “G” with the latest generation. It’s highly doubtful that they would return to that convention with the next iPhone. Apple has never been the type of company that would allow a carrier to decide on things like product names.

What do you think? Do you like the sound of the iPhone 4S, 4G, or 5? iPhone 5 sounds good to me.

[9to5Mac]