Those keeping up with yesterday’s iPhone 4S event probably noticed a rather interesting tidbit saying that Apple’s iPhone 4S is, in theory at least, up to twice as fast at downloading data as its older brother, the iPhone 4. That’s obviously great news, and Apple sought to inform its audience yesterday that the iPhone 4S can compete with so-called 4G handsets.

The truth of the matter is that yes, the iPhone 4S can (again, theoretically) download data at up to 14.4Mbps, thanks to its use of HSPA+ technology. The problem? AT&T is the only one of Apple’s three US carrier partners that actually uses HSPA+…

When it comes to using a CDMA-based handset (the iPhone 4S on both Verizon and Sprint), you’re going to be left using the same 3G speeds that you’re currently getting. Those speeds might be great, but they aren’t going to be as fast as AT&T’s.

Once again, the debate switches to which is best: CDMA or GSM. With the United States being one of the few countries that uses CDMA, it’s obvious why Apple has made the iPhone 4S a world phone. Now, when a CDMA user goes to another country, they can roam on the GSM network quite happily.

A major downside to CDMA is that you can’t use data and voice simultaneously. As the technology is today, a CDMA iPhone, or any phone for that matter, can not use a data connection at the same time as a voice protocol. That means no browsing the web while on a call, which can be surprisingly useful. And as with so many great things, you only notice it when it’s gone.

With all that in mind, AT&T may actually be the carrier of choice for the iPhone 4S, especially if data speed is important to you.

Of course, if you can’t get a signal, it’s all pointless, isn’t it?

[Gizmodo]