Verizon vs AT&T data speeds

AT&T boasts of being "America's fastest 3G network", so I've been putting that claim to the test by comparing the speeds with Verizon and AT&T iPhones side-by-side. The results were incredibly surprising. To find out what they were, watch the video above then follow along after the break!

First of all, I must preface this by saying that these tests took place in Denver, CO. Testing elsewhere could yield significantly different results.

When it comes to numbers, AT&T typically (not always) has faster speeds as you can see in the screenshots above. However, when it came to real world tests with Safari and Facebook, Verizon was neck and neck with AT&T and often times faster.

When out and about, I was consistently getting these results, but not at home. In my house, I have very spotty AT&T coverage and typically connect to a microcell to ensure I can make a phone call. In order to test AT&T against Verizon, I unplugged the microcell and got surprisingly mixed results. Even though I often only have 1 or 2 bars with AT&T, browsing with the AT&T iPhone is usually significantly faster than with Verizon. I say usually, because there are times when AT&T slows down to match Verizon. It's very inconsistent to say the least.

I cannot emphasize enough how my results were obtained from Denver and cannot be generalized to all of America. In fact, Ally has been executing the same tests in the Chicago area and been getting significantly different results than me. Not only do the following screenshots show AT&T with must faster speeds, but Ally reports that the difference is undeniable in practice.

Now, Chicago is one of the best places to have AT&T because it is very stable and running HSPA 7.2. It just goes to show that location is very important when choosing a network. If possible, run tests yourself while within your return period before committing to a network. Here in Denver, I may be considering a switch to Verizon if the iPhone 5 is available on Verizon the same day as AT&T.

Your data speeds?

To help increase our sampling, please add your carrier, location, and current data speeds in comments. Lets see what iPhone 4 can do on Verizon and AT&T in different parts of the country!

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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Verizon vs AT&T data speeds

82 Comments

Glad to see the Chicago tests as I live in the 'burbs. I was thinking about switching, but don't really see a need to. Phone service is average to poor for me, but I rarely talk on the phone.

How can you say that VZW performed better than AT&T? The only test it did better was uploading pictures to Facebook. You are making it look like that VZW significantly out performed AT&T.

/ You actually make it seem so easy with your ponteetasirn but I find this matter to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

Since the AT&T and Verizon phones are running different versions of iOS I'm not sure the browser tests definitively can show anything about network speed. There could be differences in Mobile Safari rendering, for example, that could account for differences.

Same with the Facebook photo upload test...who knows what optimizations are in the version of iOS on the Verizon iPhone. Really have to wait until the next version comes out for both phones for these tests to be valid.

take out the facebook test and they both performed well, it is a stretch to say Verizon was MUCH BETTER than at&t.

No offense, but you should be using something like the Speedtest app instead of just loading websites. If you had both those iPhones on the same WiFi network, they would exhibit similar results, one finishing before the other.

How much were you paid to say Verizon is running faster than ATT? ATT won every test but the Face Book picture. where the Verizon phone uploaded one picture and the ATT uploaded 2 picture.
I have to question the validity of the test... the screen shots show that you put ATT through a harder test.
Maybe I am missing something.

I wish people would stop saying crap like this. Have you missed the dozens of posts on this site badmouthing Verizon?
Also she never said Verizon is faster. She points out the flaws in both carriers and their data speeds. This is probably the least biased article posted here in a long time.
This is an iphone site, not an AT&T site. Its okay to praise other carriers.

@RICK,,,,,AT time 4:50 she stated that "at this location Verizon is performing much better than ATT" I simply pointed out that perhaps the test is slightly flawed. when one is uploading one picture and one is uploading 2 picture yes I would expect it to be faster.....
I agree this site is about iPHONE and not one company or the other.
Normally I find little to chanllenage them with however, this tiem I think that they are wrong, and making statments that they cannot even back up with there test.
I wish people would listen and read before they say that I am wrong.

My mistake, I skip over the videos here as usually its just not worth the time. Sorry. In any event, real world performance is more important than theoretical numbers on a speedtest. Speedtells me my at home internet is capable of 2-3MBPS. You know what I normally hit? about 1.6.
In any event, its AT&T and its inconsistent as hell. Overall they have faster speeds but it depends where you live. When I visited my niece at penn state her AT&T iphone speeds were abysmal at/around her apartment but my Droid on Verizon was blazing fast.
People here are way too in love with their carriers. They're all fine. Verizons "Slow" speeds are still really good. I do a lot of work on the go on my Droid and never had a speed complaint. People act like Verizon's speeds are a 33.6 modem and AT&T is a cable modem which is just not the case.

They are each loading one picture, just to the same facebook account. Look at the screen on the AT&T phone and you will see the pic that the Verizon phone just loaded.

Agreed they both uploaded only 1 photo. And the Verizon iPhone got in first (which is shown in the video), but that could also be the cause of an extra delay on the AT&T iphone since Facebook would have to manage getting 2 upload requests at 1 time. Not a very good test for response time.

Wow Must be different coverage for both carriers in Colorado. My data speeds where different in williamsville ,NY a suburb of buffalo. my gf has a verizon iPhone and I a AT&T iPhone. When I load the tipb page on my phone has it loaded 12 second faster then hers. I'm getting 3.93 down and 1.8 up. She's getting .72 down and .52 up. Like I've said before on thesis matter. It all depends on where you live. Just like the coverage. When my gf goes outside the suburbs she has little to no coverage at all. I at least get edge.

I would keep in mind that Verizon does not have the iPhone traffic that ATT does right now... People waited to get the iPhone until the new one comes out this summer; so I think a truer test would be to do it this summer and to wait until Verizon phones allows simultaneous data/voice transmission.

That makes no sense at all. Verizon has multiple smartphones ie... android and palm/hp. These phones use more data than the iphone because the multitasking is available for all the apps. Who cares about the att vs verizon drama its and iphone forum right.

well im still keeping my AT&T service. i dont like verizon and i would pay for another iphone 4 and have to pay more a month with verizon for a slower data. voice ok i know is better in verizon but guess what i dont use voice a lot only data so f**k the big red

@big lar ya your right I just saw that. The AT&T phone is naturally going to take longer to load two pictures. While the verizon one is loading one. Umm

The AT&T iphone only uploaded one picture (how would she get the picture of the AT&T iPhone on the AT&T iPhone with out syncing? The issue is that she posted both pictures to the same Facebook. I wouldn't be surprised if that affected the test.

Walt Mossberg of the WSJ did some testing a couple of weeks ago. He concluded that ATT delivered faster results. If I recall correctly, he tested in NYC and D.C.. Walt's methodology is usually pretty good.

In other news a chevrolet cobalt beat a ford focus by .25 of a second between two traffic lights on a city block.

How is this still news? We all know(because it's been proven) that Verizon has better voice and AT&T has faster data. Ok so maybe people has missed the hundreds of articles that came out once Apple announced the iPhone 4 for Verizon but seriously now. I'll stick with AT&T because the problem I have isn't with them. It's with this phone. I've gotten it replaced and it still randomly restates and the home button keeps sticking. Hopefully the iPhone 5 will be better but we'll see.

It's weird, that the numbers and the actual results don't match. I've seen Verizon go just as fast if not faster than AT&T when they both had the same amount of bars. Maybe it's just they way the phones communicate and carry the signal?

I too have a feeling it has something with the way the phone actually pulls data from a tower. I get the impression that although AT&T is faster it has some problems with ping for one (I know in the test it was only 15 ms off something) but that can definitely affect real world performance. I think Verizon's speeds are much more consistent. Also bars aren't really a huge indicator of performance. I can pull 3 megs down on my AT&T 3g with one or two bars. It has more to do with the load on the actual tower.

The problem when people do test like these is you can't just do one test. For one if the carrier "optimizes" content for your phone then results are going to different then might be expected. Second, is speed connections are in constant flux just like cable and fios internet. One minute you can have gloriously fast uber speeds and the next your opening pages like you are on a 56k modem (exageration but you get the point).
You have to do MULTIPLE tests to take all of those factors into account.

just to point out you probably should have sent the iPhone pictures to separate facebook accounts. That might explain why the AT&T upload was so much slower.

Nope, pretty sure thats irrelevant honestly.
I think this is a great example of how AT&T is MARGINALLY faster than Verizon in the real world results. Both of the devices had full service, and both of them although running different versions of the same OS and different radios, were identical.

Why does every review seem so biased toward Verizon. FWIW, I conducted a similar test of two phone out of the box (nothing loaded or running in bg) at a location in NYC which has been notoriously bad for AT&T. My results on loading web pages (apple.com, nytimes.com) tracked the speedtest results with AT&T loading both pages about 40% faster.
Same thing when pulling up directions on the Map app.
I would preface this whole "test" with the fact that it was not scientific and we do not know what, if anything, was running in the background, if anything was cached, etc.
But the level of pro-Verizon data speeds seems like VZ lovers trying to convince others that they are just as fast as AT&T which unfortunately is unsupported by facts.

I'm SO tired of these "comparison" tests. I mean, I don't really care if Verizon's iPhone uploads pics faster than AT&T's iPhone a second SOONER. I mean, aren't all these "speed" tests dependent on location, traffic, etc, etc? I'm on AT&T, living in Northeast Ohio, and I have ZERO complaints. Last year I traveled to San Antonio, TX AND various cities in New Mexico, and had ZERO issues...so there!

Starting to really seem that way. TiPb needs to lay off these verizon tests that are not scientific and from regular joes who likely have an agenda.
AT&T Voice < Verizon
AT&T Data > Verizon
AT&T Customer Support > Verizon
AT&T Pricing = Verizon
This has been my experience thus far. So depending on what matters more to you, make your own decisions. For me, I surf more than talk so waiting an extra 30 seconds in most cases (caveat, where I live and work which is what matters to me) is not worth the slightly improved voice experience.

@Andy, Well said. Simple and straight to the point.
Sites just keep looking to stir the water more than what it needs to be.

I wouldn't say " much better than at&t", the facebook upload was the exemption and that could be a facebook app problem, other than that it was pretty much a tie from what I saw...

It all depends on where you live. I have a Verizon iPhone, and compared SpeedTest app results with my friend's AT&T iPhone. On average, I had twice the download speed and about 50% better upload speed.

The other problem with these tests is that the ATT iPhones have a bunch of crap loaded on them. I notice that over the year the phone slows down slightly, whether or not you close all the apps in the background.
A fair test would be to wipe both phones before testing them. I agree with earlier comments that loading to the same facebook account might force them into a queue.

St. George, Utah. At&T Iphone 4
3 Tests at 10:00 am MTN Time.

  1. 350 Ping, 2.85 Mbps Down, 1.28 Mbps Up.
  2. 398 Ping, 0.87 Mbps Down, 1.40 Mbps Up.
  3. 1808 Ping, 0.84 Mbps Down, 1.51 Mbps Up.

what I am tired of, is at$t fanbois come out and bash Verizon. I'm an at$t user. each network has its advantages and disadvantages. stop saying my network is so much better than yours. blah blah blah. what are you going to do next, take off your pants and see who could piss farther?
just enjoy your phones, and if you have great coverage where you are, then great, just enjoy the phones.

I am more concerned with Verizon's "optimization" stuff when images and videos.. how is that affecting things?

Down in south east Texas here. 3.25 Mbps last night. During the day it is usually around 1.5 - 2 dl. Very happy. I'm still looking for someone with a verizon iPhone to comPare. It may be a while. Lol

AT&T speeds are not consistent at all.
I'm lucky if I can make a phone call or connect to the Internet at all If I'm in crowded place like Yankee stadium or Madison Square Garden.
I love when my phone never rings but a few seconds later I'm getting a voicemail indication. Really!?

I live in Buffalo and I noticed very fast speeds always with AT&T rather than Verizon. It does depend on location.

I find it amusing when people in crowded places think they should get better service. Really? Does traffic move faster at rush hour? Oh, and it's not just location. Time is a big factor. The load does have peaks, but it also fluctuates minute by minute. All these tests, even the ones by supposed professional testers, are pretty useless in the real world.

Here in Seattle I routinely see 4.5+ MBits down and 1.5+ up, and have very fast results (better than WiFi often). I have yet to compare it side by side with a VZ iPhone (my friend is getting hers today and I will be sure to test!)

Verizon keeping right up? it lost every test except the facebook one, ann the facebook one showed that it was loading the new picture from the first load.......
you'd have to really be prejudice to say that the ATT network was slower in real world tests, when you had two, or three or four sites load faster on ATT, and one on Verizon????
what were you thinking when you said that?

By "keeping right up", I meant not far behind. And the video I posted was just of a few times. I've been testing side by side for several days and there were many times that Verizon loaded web pages faster.
I never claimed these were perfect scientific tests, they are indeed far from it.
AT&T definitely had the fastest speeds, but it wasn't consistently faster. And here in Denver, they two are actually pretty close in speeds. That's all I'm saying.

@Leanna, that may be true but what you said in your review definitely makes it seem that you are claiming that Verizon is better.

But you said at the end of the video that Verizon performed much better and it didn't.
Verizon didn't perform as well as AT&T in uploading a website. Verizon performed better than AT&T in uploading a photo to face book, right?
So how can you say VZW performed much better than AT&T?

I think these things are funny. They just start flame wars back and forth. People know what the limitations are of each and should make the decision according to how the service is in their area. The more iphone users there are the better it is for everyone.

This is less than a scientific test... So she is reloading a page that might be cached in the first place? AT&T won the page where it was a fresh load and not a reload.
Also, the photo test? Is she 100% both photos are the same size file?
Seems suspect to me. It would be nice if someone that knew how to do a real benchmark would run these test.

She paid like $400 to have her Black iPhone converted to a White one from some company that does that sort of thing.

Nice white iphone, Leanna!! :) Really, agree with the folks above who say go with whichever carrier works for you. Who really cares if a page downloads a second faster or slower?

firstly , im jealous shes out there getting more than 2mb upstream ... most i've gotten pretty much one a consistent basis n ATT in lower new york is 1.7 . As far as her test, I believe it's fair because sometimes certain tasks would take long to complete but I would still get a decent speed. However, she sounds like shes in a moving car , not one location...

My VZ Iphone was working great until I went up to Alaska for work...couldn't even get data up there while my previous AT&T Iphone was fast up there. Sorry Verizon I travel a lot outside of the continental US so I'm going back to AT&T.

another thing u can do to reduce the amount of variable in your next test is to have the same exact photo on both phones. each photo u took is a different size.
if i take my nikon and snap a picture of a soda can 3 times, each version will vary in size.

To be honest what ive experienced is that AT&T here in Fredericksburg va does have faster, but it's inconsistent. Where my vzw iPhone is slower but consistent. Therefore it has been streaming, downloading, surfing, ect better. Hope this helps

LOL @ AT&T Fanboys.. U mad bro?
Seriously though, real world results. After seeing this, and actually watching the ENTIRE video, something obviously a lot of people that commented did not to, this is fair, unscientific, but fair. Yes she could've used two different facebook accounts, and she could've used the exact same photo, but she didn't. She never said Verizon was faster, just that it was more consistently relevant.

whuuuutevur... only reason I haven't gotten an iphone earlier is the overwhelming number of horror storries from my friends in AT&(Garbage).
the end.
das rite I said it...

I don't think you can do a really fair comparison as AT&T is running an older version of the ios!
I bet you when the new OS comes out that the AT&T phone will out perform the Verizon one!
I know in many parts here in Austin Verizon gets horrible service and I have never had a problem with AT&T.
It is especially problematic in Round Rock and the further you go away from Austin. I know this because my parent's have Verizon!

It actually is a fair comparison because the "real world" test are done on "real' devices. ATT happens to have a diffrent os loaded on them. That is "really" the current phone though.

It looks like you performed these tests in a car, I would like to see how they compare in an open air environment as the antennas and signal penetration react differently when inside of a large metal object. In any case, there are so many variables to account for. A good test inside of a vehicle would be the responsiveness and accuracy of the two phones location services.

You act like both phones were not side by side. One wasnt in the middle of an open space and another sitting in a safe. People use the phonein the car anyway. Why is everyone trying to down her test just because they want to say ATT ranks faster by the numbers. Top speed and maintained speed are two diffrent things. This is what helps the slower Verizon Data.

Verizon performing much faster? Then how come AT&T beat it 4/5 test? It's better that women just stay away from Technology. (Whatever happened to the women that cooked and cleaned? lol)

On AT&T on an iPhone 3G, Lawrence, KS
Ping: 411
Download: 2.59
Upload: 0.12
AT&T is way faster than any other carrier here in KS, i have never had a bad experience with AT&T either never had a dropped call never had slow data speeds... so all you haters need to stop hating, AT&T may have some minor issues but its the BEST option for me

From Virginia Beach, Va, inside my home I got .75Mbps download and .12Mbps upload while hitting the Wilson, NC servver using Speedtest.net. From outside my home, using the same settings I got .59Mbps download and .79Mbps upload. Inside I had two bars and outside I had four bars. However, when I connect to wireless, my iPhone rocks.

Good to see you're taking this approach. I've seen a number of articles that relied solely on speed test data, rather than a side by side compare.

I have to say that for the past couple of hours i have been hooked by the amazing articles on this site. Keep up the great work.