iPhone 4 3G Data Performance

After reading Andy Ihnatko’s iPhone 4 review, I was intrigued by his comments regarding the phone’s significantly faster 3G data performance, with improved HSDPA (download) support and brand-new support for HSUPA (upload). So I ran some tests using the FCC’s free mobile broadband test app.

I tested three devices: an iPhone 4, and iPhone 3GS, and an iPad 3G. I ran three tests on each, and the numbers below are the average of three runs. (There wasn’t much variance in the results.)

iPhone 4 2.38 1.26 234
iPhone 4 (handheld) 1.61 1.18 235
iPad 3G 1.34 0.14 1254
iPhone 3GS 1.22 0.09 2119
iPhone 4 (Wi-Fi) 13.43 4.33 65

(For download and upload, higher scores are better. For latency, lower scores are better.)

I tested 3G performance on the iPhone 4 twice (three runs each) — once lying on a table, and once while held in my left hand, with my palm spanning the infamous lower-left antenna gap. I also tested it using my home 802.11n Wi-Fi network, connected to a Comcast cable modem.

So I’m seeing download speeds twice as fast as on an iPhone 3GS, and upload speeds over ten times faster. Latency is about an order of magnitude better as well. The iPad doesn’t fare much better than the 3GS.

Holding the iPhone 4 in my hand drops the 3G download speed by about a third, but it’s still faster than the 3GS. Upload speed and latency didn’t seem affected by holding it in my hand.