Speed Tests: What does 4G really mean?
Today I sat down with two friends around a table. I have a Nexus 1 operating on T-mobile. One friend has the latest iPhone operating on AT&T and the other friend has the new Samsung Epic on Sprint. We were in Salt Lake City where two of us had 3G reception (t-mobile and at&t) and the third was on Sprint’s 4G network. I decided the opportunity was too good to pass up. I prompted both to download the speed test app which operates via SpeedTest.net. We lined all 3 phones next to each other and hit the begin test
Results: I won. My average download speed was about 3900 but I peaked at 4400. My average upload speed was 1350 and peaked at 1490. The iPhone averaged about 900 download speed but peaked around 4100 out of the blue on one test. The iPhone averaged around 90 upload speed and don’t think it peaked over 100. The most disappointing was the Sprint 4G which averaged about 1500 download speed and around 100 upload speed.
Observations: I don’t have any reason to think that the individual handsets played a big role. All three phones have good hardware and are in good condition but what we are really measuring is the individual performance of the 3 carriers. Also note that we had 2 Android devices and one iPhone but again this matters very little.
Next thing to point out was that while T-mobile was by far the fastest carrier in Salt Lake City this may change from market to market. Different carriers will excel from one city to the next. In fact I would really love to hear from readers in the comments below what you can tell us about your own local market speed tests.
Also note that the performance from AT&T was very inconsistent. It had a very good download speed on one out of 15 speed tests. This is consistent with what I’ve heard from a lot of people. AT&T operates on the same GSM technology as T-mobile but people consistently complain that AT&T is generally overloaded by its vast network of iPhone and iPad users on a network that can’t support it.
Next, and perhaps most important is the disappointing Sprint 4G. Please remember that numbers mean very little. If Verizon came out with 5G tomorrow it wouldn’t mean anything in regards to speed. Sprint can run whatever commercial it wants but the truth always comes out in the speed test.
Please download the free speed test app and leave your test results below. Please don’t forget to tell us what city your test was performed in and what carrier your phone is on. When possible challenge your friends to the test and report their results also.
Jacob S Paulsen