How Fast is Your iPhone?

By: Smartcomm

SwayMarkets, a startup based out of Boston, recently released CarrierCompare - an app that allows iPhone users to see their network's speed and response time compared to other networks in the area.

According to an article by CNNMoney entitled Which iPhone Carrier Is the Best in Your City? SwayMarkets was able to generate data from CarrierCompare users in the following cities: Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. The data they generated showed the following results:

AT&T has the fastest, overall, 3G speeds. Verizon comes in second. And as we've seen before, Sprint is in last place (except in New York City). But the results aren't cut and dry. Many factors come into play.

For example, according to SwayMarket's research, while AT&T has the best speed overall, its user experience is very inconsistent. The speeds its iPhone users receive vary greatly depending on the time of day and how congested the network is. During the afternoon hours, download speeds are unpredictable as some users have excellent speed, while others experience only mediocre speed.

Verizon's speeds are second fastest in all cities tested, except New York, where it falls behind Sprint. With that said, Verizon offers a more consistent experience for its users than AT&T. It also has a quicker network response time, whereby pages load faster than other networks once a link is clicked. Also good to note, Verizon has the best signal strength (showing more bars on the iPhone), which implies that the carrier has more towers in those cities than its competitors. What it lacks in overall data speeds Verizon makes up for in consistency and overall voice clarity.

Sprint, whose speeds come in last, except in New York City, surprisingly offers the most consistent experience for customers. The speeds it offers, though slower, rarely deviate more than 25% from the median. In other words, we might say that Sprint is consistently slow. Its signal strength, however, is comparable to that of Verizon's, in four out of six cities analyzed, which is good news.

What this research shows us is that there is no simple answer for choosing a carrier for your current or future iPhone. Overall, AT&T will offer the best speeds, but not consistently, so it's a gamble.

As for Verizon, it is the overall top performer, based on SwayMarket's analytics. The carrier is best at connecting its users to its network, and responding to requests.

Though Sprint comes in last, once its Network Vision Project is in full swing, it could change drastically.

So, what if you don't own an iPhone? CarrierCompare is creating a version for Android, which will include results for T-Mobile as well, which currently doesn't offer the iPhone.

iPhoneSpeed Chart

(source of graph: SwayMarkets)

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