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iPhone 4S carrier showdown: AT&T fastest, Verizon most reliable

Zach Epstein
November 18th, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Apple’s iPhone 4S became the fastest-selling smartphone of all time when it launched last month. It also finally arrived on Sprint’s network, making it available from three of the four top wireless carriers in the United States. Despite the fact that we now have a single iPhone model that supports both GSM-based networks and CDMA networks, not all iPhones are created equal. A new report from performance analytics company Metrico Wireless Inc. looks at iPhone 4S performance across each of the top three carriers in the U.S. to determine where the iPhone 4S, and the previous-generation iPhone 4, shine brightest. Read on for more.

Over the past month, Metrico downloaded more than 21,000 web pages, performed over 8,000 speed tests and placed more than 6,000 voice calls from the iPhone, all while using its proprietary measurement platform to monitor performance. On the data side, AT&T crushed the competition, with maximum iPhone 4S download speeds of 6,047Kbps and a mean speed of 3,210Kbps. Verizon Wireless’ network found itself in a distant No.2 spot with a top speed of 2,371Kbps and a mean speed of 1,071Kbps, and Sprint came in last with a max speed of 1,767Kbps and a mean speed of 581Kbps.

Tests with the iPhone 4 painted the same picture, though speeds slowed at AT&T and Sprint while remaining consistent on Verizon’s network.

When testing call failure rates, Sprint found itself at the bottom once again as 3.7% of calls placed from the iPhone 4S over its network were dropped. AT&T was almost one percentage point better with a 2.8% fail rate, and Verizon Wireless’ network was found to be the most reliable with only 2.1% of test calls having failed.

Metrico found that Apple’s iPhone 4S showed mixed performance overall compared to the competition, independent of the carrier on which the phone was being used. The phone’s average dropped call rate was found to be 1.4%, poor in relation to its competition, but data task reliability was at or near 100%, a big improvement over the iPhone 4 and among the top performers in the world.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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