iPhone + AT&T Fastest Smartphone/Carrier Combo in PCWorld Test


If PCWorld's second 3G, 13-city performance tests are to be believed, AT&T's investment in their network just might be starting to pay off:

  • 84% better download speeds than 8 months ago
  • 64% faster than Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon
  • Average download speed of 1410kps
  • 3x faster in Chicago, 40% faster in San Francisco
  • 94% connection reliability (up from 68% last spring)
  • iPhone on AT&T had the fastest downstream/upstream performance of any smartphone/network combo (worst was Verizon/Droid)

The representative cities chosen for the test were Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle.

Here's hoping AT&T can keep it up, what with those sweet iPad data deals, and most likely a 4th gen iPhone heading their way this summer.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iPhone + AT&T Fastest Smartphone/Carrier Combo in PCWorld Test


Boy I wish I could use those 3G speeds..Fastest 3g network in the US is also the smallest. This is the buzzkill for me.

i want to know how Verizon Users will respond to this News????
i glad i have an Iphone and its with ATT..

NYC Reporting: Dramatic increases in speed from low to mid 500's kps to ranges upward 1500+. Also, I seem to be experiencing significantly less dropped calls both to and from my iPhone.

I don’t think there has ever been any doubt that AT&T 3G was faster. The issue is the coverage. It is a known fact the Verizon has a much broader 3G coverage area and has less issues attempting to get a signal and drops by far less calls than AT&T does.
I live in Phoenix and I carry an iPhone 3GS and Moto Droid…. As far as reliability goes throughout the entire valley, east/west, Verizon beats AT&T hands down…

work - hartford ct - 2200 down 286 up
home - uncasville ct (in boonies) 2100 down 250 up
im satisfied

I live in Newark, NJ (8 miles from Manhattan) and I have definitely noticed a change in dropped calls. Although, it's still somewhat of a problem as well as message send failures. It's good to see that improvements are being made.

While I won't dispute the results, it really is meaningless if AT&T doesn't provide 3G coverage in your area. Here in Iowa, 3G is only available in 3 places - Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and the Quad Cities. Sure, we're not as metro as other states, but those speeds don't do any of us any good if we live/work in other localities. I would love to get the iPhone, but the coverage is simply NOT there where I live and work...and I'm not out in the sticks, but in one of the largest cities in the state. That's the real downside to this survey.

In New York City my data speed over 3G has been noticably faster since the first of the year; on the downside, I have experience dropped calls for the first time -- just a few, a strange cluster of dropped calls in January.

It looks like they're putting more money into speed than coverage though. Speed's not bad, but I'd rather have coverage. Here in Tampa, AT&T is a snail compared to Verizon when it comes to 3G speed.

Everyone says AT&T has a smaller 3G network. True. For now.
Wait until Verizon replaces their entire network in the entire country to change to LTE.
I bet there will be more 3G/LTE devices than EVDO/LTE devices in three years. Meaning AT&T will have a broader network. The benefit is there will be better roaming among the two meaning they'll effectively have the same network.

Those coverage maps are deceiving. AT&T 3G covers something like 93% of all Americans, who are mostly concentrated into metropolitan areas. That's mote than 250 million of us. While verizon definitely as more acrage covered, it only affects a few percent of actual population. For the 93% of us that do have AT&T coverage, the 3g experience on an iPhone us vastly superior, as proven by yet another independant test (they all come out this way. Everytime) Its that 5% vocal minority (and every tech writer in San Francisco) that complains about AT&T coverage. Look around, practically everyone you see has an iPhone. And they all have coverage right this minute. And it's faster than your droid or bb on verizon right this minute. It keeps gettig proven over and over and over. Where's your map for that?

Anyone else seeing their ATT 3G upload speed throttled back to either about 50 or 100Kbps?
I used to get consistent 245-265Kbps uploads until early Jan but in 20 speedtests since then it's always 49/50Kbps or 99/100/101Kbps. Never higher or in between. Odd.

Service is great in Chicagoland. However I have been visiting San Francisco the past few days and have had a few dropped calls and I would get voicemails pop up from people who tried to call but it went straight to vm.
I will say that walking around, the iPhone is the only phone you see. Everybody has one. That's got to be pretty taxing on a network...

Here in Hawaii, AT&T coverage is excellent. I used to have Verizon (2008) and experienced more dropped calls. I did not have a smartphone then so I really can't compare the 3G experience. But overall, I am a very satisfied ATT/iPhone customer (just wish their prices were a bit lower, free texting would be great since we are already paying $30 for unlimited data).

I live here in the great state and best place on earth sunny California and the speed is Fast super fast oh i think I know why I live next to the apple office...

About a month ago I was in Penn Station by the LIRR ( NYC ) and I got around 4.4mbps. I was so shocked by this. It was very late at night, around 1pm so that has something to do with it.
However , on average, I do get 1.4mbps now a days during regular day time. The highest I ever got during day time was around 2.4mbps.
My data connection in my house has also became a lot more reliable. The voice ... not so much. There was also a point in time when I would get my text messages 10 minutes late and I think it has a lot to do with the connection going in and out.
Im not sure what exactly causes dropped calls, especially when you are stationary.

I get consistently between 3.5 and 4.1Mbps in downtown Cleveland. Never goes lower than 1.5 in the suburbs.

Baltimore here. 3300 down / 331 up
How do you get a screenshot of the speed test result?

Population density vs a coverage map makes all the difference...
Tour ignorant to believe that because your vzw coverage is complete in all of Colorado.... What flipping good is that?
More food for thought:
we constantly use mywi to get our xbox 360 on the net, weather were camping in the woods or at home, we get an ok ping, but minimal lag. Codmw2 anywhere we go :)

I agree, Verizon covers areas that are dense in population and sparse. AT&T still leaves vast swaths of of the US uncovered.

Higher speeds do not necessarily mean better browsing performance. If you're getting over 1Mbps, consistent low latency (ping times) is way more important.

Wow I wish I was getting the speeds some of you are getting. I'm in Sacramento, Ca and the highest 3g speeds I've gotten is just over 1mbps. It's mind boggling that some of you are getting over 3mbps. I guess Sacramento isn't getting the same upgrades yet

Hahahaha verizon go suck on that its proven fools so stop your **** and get back to work and try to make your customer happy!
P.S lmfao when i read this! Tipb rules peaces!!!!

From Houston, Tx
Speedtest results to Austin, Tx server (on a 3GS):
2.551mbps down, 634kbs up.
Some of you guys got faster (although I'm still above the national average) download rates but so far it appears no other location gets over 600 up! Thank you AT&T! Although it probably helps that there's one of their new towers under half a mile from my house.

Is everyone using the speedtest.net app to capture their sup/down speeds? I winder how accurate is that poheam sometimes.
I'm consistently getting around 1.5mps down whereever I go in NYC. Though I'm not in manhattan much lately.
I have to admit.. Seems like AT&T has been making some significant difference in terms of speeds and less dropped calls. It's becoming fairly noticeable by now. I hope this only continues!