iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

Summary: The iPhone 4 is catching a lot of criticism for the left-side antenna issue, but we have speed tests that reveal the iPhone 4 can effectively double 3G bandwidth speeds on AT&T.


The iPhone 4 is catching a lot of criticism for an antenna issue that is causing some users to lose connectivity when holding the iPhone 4 in a way that blocks the lower left corner of the device. Apple's reaction to the problem has been typical and disappointing: "Just avoid holding it in that way."

I have not been able to replicate the antenna problems that have been reported. In fact, in my first two days of using the iPhone 4 I've had a shocking discovery: It is giving me far better bandwidth on the AT&T 3G network.

I started noticing this on Thursday after I picked up the iPhone 4. The first bandwidth speed tests that I ran showed that I was getting much higher bandwidth numbers that I was used to seeing on AT&T. I was getting over 2 Mbps on downloads and over 700K on uploads. At first, I didn't think too much of it, because it was only a little higher than normal. In my 3G bandwidth tests on various devices in different cities across the U.S., the 3G speeds tend to top out at about 1.0-1.5 Mbps down and 250-500 Kbps up.

However, the increase was enough to pique my interest and so I ran a bunch of additional speed tests today between home and work and a couple other locations. The results were startling. In several spots I was able to get upwards of 4.0 Mbps down and 1.0 Mbps up.

I immediately wondered if AT&T had done a network upgrade to coincide with the iPhone 4 launch. Unlike San Francisco and New York City, AT&T has a solid network in the area where I live -- Louisville, Kentucky (where TechRepublic launched as a startup in 1999 and the editorial department still has its headquarters today). This area was a part of the traditional stronghold left over from Cingular and Bell South.

So, in order to verify whether this was just a general AT&T upgrade or if there was something going on with the iPhone 4, I had one of my colleagues who has an iPhone 3G come into my office so that we could both run the same speed tests and compare the results.

We used the two most common iPhone speed test apps, the one from Speedtest.net and the one from Xtreme Labs. I had him start his test and then I started mine. In both cases, the iPhone 4 blew away the iPhone 3G. Take a look at the results.


Xtreme Labs

More iPhone 4 speed tests

To give you a look at the rest of the speed tests that I ran on the iPhone 4 in various locations today, here's a screenshot of the history from the Xtreme Labs app.


The primary source of the iPhone 4's speed boost is the upgrade to HSDPA (which began with the iPhone 3GS) and HSUPA (which is new to the iPhone 4). AppleInsider explains:

"Support for both HSDPA and HSUPA in iPhone 4 makes the phone a '3.5G' device and means it can theoretically achieve 7.2 Mbps downloads and 5.8 Mbps uploads, but those capabilities are also dependent upon the mobile operator. In the US, AT&T's 3G HSDPA primarily maxes out at 3.2 Mbps, with typical speeds ranging from 0.7 to 1.7 Mbps. The company is in the process of deploying faster 7.2 Mbps service, but this is currently limited to just a few cities: Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Los Angeles and Miami. In terms of uploads, AT&T's 3G HSUPA network operates with typical speeds ranging from 0.5 to 1.2 Mbps, roughly two to four times faster than 0.3 Mbps theoretical maximum of the non-HSUPA capable iPhone 3GS. Not all of AT&T's 3G network supports faster HSUPA service."

What are your speeds?

If you're using the iPhone 4, what are you seeing in your speed tests? Post in the discussion below.

Topics: AT&T, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

    HSDPA and HSUPA is not anything new to
    people that have real phones its nice
    to see the toy phone has joined us
    i've been getting that kind of speed
    for years now
    • some people consider Lamborghinis and Ferraris 'TOY's too

      @pooh40218 <br><br>and not 'real' 'working tools'.<br><br>Just a thought.<br>

      (amuses me that critics always call Apple products 'toys' as if it was a big negative... )
  • Try this.. on 3G on a G1

    4.4 Mbps using netspeed compared to 1.1Mpbs for the 4G... have already trounced 6 brand new iPhone 4G users with this with a G1... asked them to load a webpage like esri or cnn side by side... they boasted they have a nicer screen and better images, and I said.. yeah, you can play games better than I can. Deal is I can hotspot my G1.. they had to tether... its just so hilarious... and its a G1 with 2.1.

  • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

    My 3GS gets between 2 and 4Mbps and has for over 6 months here in Kansas City.

    Apple had reported the 3GS was capable of the 7.2 Mbps technology.
    • ROFL did you look at the link 10Mpbs

      technically speaking you can't do 2-4Mbps with att ROFL.

      So you are using wifi.

      Any way. ... T Mobile supports 21Mbps, something Att and iPhone users can only dream about, Android users have it (if they have a Galaxy S). Getting mine under a week.

      Like I said, I have yet to see an iPhone 3G/3GS/4G user to outdo my G1, non have yet. iPhone is a joke. But some people are gullible enough to buy one .. well lots.
      • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds


        You need to look up HSDPA specs. It is 7.2Mbps. The 3GS can and will do speeds just under that.

        No I wasn't using WIFI. If my WIFI was that slow I would jump off a bridge. lol
      • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

        I have tried two different HTC Windows Mobile phones and after that experience I have vowed never to own either one ever again. How they can sell a product that buggy that doesn't work for simple phone calls amazes me.

        I do have a Samsung Moment with Sprint running Android 2.1 but it is slow, buggy and not very intuitive. Things are harder than they need to be. It does have potential though if they get things worked out. The download speed though is only around 900 kbps though.
      • T-Mobile has VERY limited high-speed coverage in the US

        T-Mobile @ 21Mpbs?<br><br>T-Mobile has *VERY* limited coverage in the US.<br>(Even less than AT&T)<br><br><a href="http://vzwmap.verizonwireless.com/dotcom/coveragelocator/images/maps/3Gcomparison.pdf" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://vzwmap.verizonwireless.com/dotcom/coveragelocator/images/maps/3Gcomparison.pdf</a>
  • AT&T isn't the problem

    If the i4 blows away the 3GS with a speedtest.net result shown above, what does that say about Apple's "cutting edge" when my N1 gets results of 2777dn/1637up on AT&T?
    • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds


      The iPhones get similar speeds to yours. The problem I would say is where they are doing the tests. They are probably in an area where the system is overloaded.

      Everyone loves to talk about how slow AT&T is yet their 3G blows away Verizon and Sprints 3G speeds.

      Sounds like your speed results are the same as mine on my 3GS.
  • What does that mean?

    My Nokia E72, released about a year ago, has HSDPA (up to 10.2 Mbps) and HSUPA (up to 2 Mbps).

    Oh yeah, it also has actual real WiFi hotspot functionality, it has a real working awesome 5 MP camera, tethering through Bluetooth, a battery that lasts more than 24 hours with real serious usage.

    Come on, if this article is to be taken seriously... a phone called "4G" but it is really "3.5G" - what the *censure*? :)

    As the first comment said - nice to see there is an new toy for the kids. Have fun playing!
    Daniel Breslauer
    • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

      @Daniel575 <br><br>I just looked over the specs of the E72 and it isn't that great. No where near the specs of the iPhone 3GS.<br><br>On another note anyone who goes by the MP count of a camera when judging its quality shouldn't even be talking about it. Optics is what matters, not the MP count. The camera makers love the suckers who think MP is all that matters.

      As noted the 3GS which is a year old also had the HSDPA capable of 7.2Mbps downloads.
    • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

      @Daniel575 Just a heads up it's NOT called the "4G"... it's called the iPhone 4. But thanks for playing.
    • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

      @Daniel575 It is called the iPhone 4 without the G.
  • MP does matter

    First of all, it does matter.

    Second, I'm not a camera geek. All I know is that my phone takes awesome pictures, way better than anything I have seen from an iPhone, or from my wife's Samsung i7500 Galaxy (Android, also 5 MP camera), which has a horrible camera.

    Since I have my E72, I haven't ever felt the need for a separate dedicated camera, and I am quite sure I won't even be carrying a dedicated camera when I'm going on vacation.
    Daniel Breslauer
    • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds


      I would have to disagree with you there. All cameras built into phones are a joke as far as quality. You should always carry a DSLR for photos that you care about such and family events and vacations. Just my opinion.
  • By the way.... regarding specs...

    Please specify which specs you are referring to as "not that great" and "nowhere near the iPhone 3GS". Please do, I am really curious.
    Daniel Breslauer
    • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds


      Lower screen resolution, slower graphics chip, half the RAM and less storage and no touch screen just to name a few things.
    • RE: iPhone 4 upgrades to HSDPA and HSUPA can double 3G bandwidth speeds

      @Daniel575 Okay, here goes:

      Screen size: E72 2.36" 320x240 pixels, 3Gs 3.5" multitouch display 420x320 pixels.

      Space: E72 250MB free space 4GB SD card support up to 16GB, iPhone 3Gs comes in 8GB, 16GB, or 32 GB models.

      Data/Wireless: E72 Quad-band GSM/EGSM 850/900/1800/1900 HSDPA maximum speed: 10.2 Mbps HSUPA maximum speed: 2 Mbps, 3Gs UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz) GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz) - Apple's site didn't give actual HSDPA or HSUPA speeds...

      There's more but I'm not going to list them here. I got my info from the Nokia site and the Apple site respectively... With what I just put here Apple already wins on screen size and space for media.
      • Reply...

        1) Who cares about screen resolution? Fact is, whenever you want to write something, half the screen gets taken up by the virtual keyboard, so you lose half of your screen. It drives me crazy when using my wife's touchscreen phone (Android); iPhone is no different in that. Functionally, I believe the screen is pretty much the same.

        2) Lower resolution: looking at the difference in size and the difference in resolution, I don't think the difference is all that big, actually.

        3) Space: At least mine can be upgraded. I never felt the need to use more than 4 GB anyway. If I want to watch a movie, I use my laptop, not my phone... I cannot imagine using 32 GB on a phone, unless you would never ever remove your pictures and videos from it, which I do.

        4) Data/Wireless: more or less the same, though the E72 supports HSDPA up to 10.2 Mbps and HSUPA up to 2 Mbps; everything else is identical, I believe.

        5) Regarding RAM, well at least using this RAM, my Nokia allows true multi-tasking. For example, I can be online on Nimbuzz, check an address on Google Earth, and have my email right next to me.

        6) Slower graphics chip - never noticed that. As I said, I don't think a phone should be meant for watching movies. For games I don't have time anyway, who cares about that? Seriously, there are people playing graphics-intensive games on a 3.2" screen?

        7) You didn't mention battery. I won't mention the official estimates, which say the E72 has standby time of "GSM 729 hours, WCDMA 868 hours, WLAN 110 hours". Like, what, a month; 36 days without being charged? I completely recognize manufacturer's battery estimates as being completely ridiculous, and yes, this applies to Nokia as much as it applies to Apple, Samsung, HTC or any other manufacturer. (See http://www.nokia.co.uk/find-products/all-phones/nokia-e72/specifications for source - checked this in multiple languages ). I can only estimate subjectively that I can really use my phone for (more than) a complete day with heavy email and IM usage, hours of GPS and calls, and Bluetooth, WiFi and 3G all on, which is more than an iPhone can do as far as I know.
        Daniel Breslauer