SAN FRANCISCO—Handsets operating on 4G cellular networks offer significant improvement in data transfer performance compared to their 3G predecessors, according to a study evaluating the performance of smartphones available from U.S. national carriers conducted by consulting firm Metrico Wireless Inc.
The performance improvement of 4G is punctuated by a more than 1,000 percent increase in download speed on 4G smartphones on the Sprint 4G network compared to the same carrier's 3G network, the study found.
Web pages load significantly faster on the 4G devices compared to 3G devices, with Sprint 4G on average taking one third of the time to load a page compared to Sprint 3G, the study found. T-Mobile 4G smartphones take 46 percent of the time to load a page compared to T-Mobile 3G, according to the study. Metrico attributed the fact that T-Mobile's 4G performance advantage over 3G is not as pronounced as Sprint's to the fact that T-Mobile 3G devices offered higher performance to begin with.
The T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4G had the best average data download speed while stationary among the devices tested, with an average of 6.154 Mbps—25 percent above the
average for all devices—and a maximum of 13.818 Mbps, the study found.
The T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4G also leads in download reliability, 9 percent more reliable than the T-Mobile myTouch 4G and 11 percent more reliable than the T-Mobile G2, according to the study.
Meanwhile, the Sprint HTC EVO Shift had the best data download speed while moving among the devices tested, with an average of 5.699 Mbps—27 percent above the average for all devices—and a maximum of 11.188 Mbps, the study found. It was also second in stationary downloads (5.031 Mbps average, 11.004 Mbps maximum), according to the study.
The Sprint Samsung Epic outperforms the Sprint HTC EVO as well as its successor the EVO Shift on web page load times, the study found.
The HTC EVO Shift outperforms the HTC EVO and Samsung Epic on mean download speed in both mobile and stationary scenarios, according to the study.
The HTC EVO Shift, HTC EVO and Samsung Epic show comparable upload speeds in both
mobile and stationary scenarios, according to the study.
The Samsung Galaxy S 4G, Google G2 and T-Mobile myTouch4G showed comparable upload speeds in both mobile and stationary scenarios, according to the study. The Samsung Galaxy S 4G also showed higher mobile download reliability than the MyTouch4G and the G2., while stationary reliability was comparable between all three devices, according to the study. .
To conduct the study, Metrico (Fredericksburg, Md.) said it procured all smartphones advertised as 4G capable through consumer channels and subjected them to thousands of live network tests in four markets: New York, Baltimore-Washington, Dallas and Seattle. During the evaluation period, only Sprint and T-Mobile were determined to offer smartphones fulfilling the criteria for evaluation, Metrico said.
4G is a good thing but phone manufacturers have to come up with a better battery management system to cope with 4G. Try running a phone on 4G and see what happens to the battery. The battery life sucks when you are running your phone on 4G.
There are other considerations as well. AT&T's network problems with the iPhone had more to do with call setup overhead than raw throughput. Hopefully these protocols and LTE are more data-friendly than that. There is also a question of how efficiently these protocols use the spectrum and how good that spectrum for any carrier is in any particular area.
The size of the pipe is always limited. When there are more users pulling large amount of content, the per user data rate is going to be affected. The bottomline is the user experience. The technical challenge is how the coverage is planned out and how well the underlining technologies are. The infrastructure of the cell network plays a key role to the potential data rate.
This is valuable information, but a user has to keep in mind the effect of contention on these networks. I have been a user of both AT&T and Verizon data services and in both cases I saw distinct differences in usability before and after each network introduced iPhones. Those introductions sharply drove up the number of users, which degraded access to the networks. Both of these carriers are "lucky" enough to not currently have that problem.