What is the Best Cellular Network for the iPhone?

Recently, I went on a trip with some friends about two hours north of our city. While driving, we were discussing which network was the best for the iPhone. Of course, I argued for AT&T while others stuck to their Verizon and Sprint networks. My argument is always that AT&T has a really fast connection although I know sometimes there are coverage issues in rural areas. In my city, AT&T was a little slow to get 3G and now I’m waiting for LTE to come to the area. Still, the speeds I get on my iPhone are typically faster than others in my area who are on Verizon and Sprint. Today, as we drove out of the big city, I continued to have high speeds while others dropped quickly. I’ll admit, we were on a highly traveled interstate. The only time I had bad signal was once we got to our destination and was in the basement of the building. At that point, I had no signal. Others, on Verizon, had signal. Of course, there was Wi-Fi available so it didn’t really bother me. Almost everything I need to get on my phone can be done on Wi-Fi. This includes iMessage, email and all notifications. The only thing I would need is text messaging, phone calls and voice mail. Every once in a while, at the back of the building, I’d get a connection and would get my text messages. This location and only one other that I travel to maybe twice a year have this issue. Otherwise, I have this high-speed 3G connection.

You’ll notice I called the connection 3G. AT&T likes to call their higher 3G speed 4G. I don’t necessarily agree with them on this, but it is definitely faster than Sprint and Verizon’s 3G. 4G AT&T in my area is really HSPA+. Hypothetically, this speed can reach 14mbps. I only get about 7mbps. All of this technobabble doesn’t really matter. What matters is the connection from the cell phone tower to the backbone of the Internet. If this is not fast, you won’t get a fast connection. It also depends on how many people are on the network and what they’re doing.

So, here’s what I did, I asked all of my friends to send me screenshots of their iPhone doing a speed test using the same app on the cellular data. Then, I posted the same question to Twitter followers and Facebook friends. I’ve gotten responses from all over the state, country and the world. Let’s see what the trends are.

First, I’ll show you the comparison from three iPhones that were on the trip. These screenshots were taken just north of Des Moines, Iowa. We were on Interstate 35 headed north. AT&T & Sprint are the iPhone 5 and Verizon is an iPhone 4S. There is no AT&T LTE in the area at the time or writing this article, just Verizon.

I’d say this is a pretty big difference and this shows why I choose AT&T. I have a lot more screenshots and I’m going to share them here to help if you’re trying to choose a network.

AT&T

iPhone 5, AT&T, 4G, Lake Ann, Michigan, 2.88 Mbps Down, 1.13 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, AT&T, 4G, Ocean Springs, Mississippi, 6.30 Mbps Down, 1.02 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, AT&T, 4G, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 8.70 Mbps Down, 1.07 Mbps Up

iPhone 4S, AT&T, 4G, Ankeny, Iowa, 10.12 Mbps Down, 1.12 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, AT&T, 4G, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1.67 Mbps Down, 0.77 Mbps Up

iPhone 4, AT&T, 3G, Los Angeles, California, 3.84 Mbps Down, 1.05 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, AT&T, 4G, Ankeny, Iowa, 6.19 Mbps Down, 1.55 Mbps Up

Verizon

iPhone 5, Verizon, LTE, Ames, Iowa, 23.52 Mbps Down, 4.42 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, Verizon, LTE, Ames, Iowa, 4.69 Mbps Down, 1.39 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, Verizon, LTE, Polk City, Iowa, 2.30 Mbps Down, 5.84 Mbps Up

Sprint
iPhone 5, Sprint, 3G, Alleman, Iowa, 1.05 Mbps Down, 0.46 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, Sprint, 3G, West Des Moines, Iowa, 0.17 Mbps Down, 0.39 Mbps Up

Other

iPhone 4, Rogers, 3G, Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, 5.4 Mbps Down, 1.18 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, SingTel, LTE, Singapore, 26.04 Mbps Down, 14.55 Mbps Up

iPhone 4, etisalat, 3G, Cairo, Egypt, 0.90 Mbps Down, 0.26 Mbps Up

iPhone 5, Fido, LTE, Vancouver, Canada, 12.86 Mbps Down, 10.13 Mbps Up

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