Apple’s new iPhone 4S may work fastest on AT&T’s network, which may lead buyers to choose the carrier over Verizon or Sprint when purchasing the top-selling device.
Metrico Wireless, a mobile performance and measurement company, said AT&T’s version of the 4S delivered faster uplink speeds and mobile data downlink capabilities, as well as quicker Web browsing. The tests compared thousands of Web page downloads, download and upload tests, and thousands of voice phone calls.
The speed issue may be the result of the companies’ network capabilities. The 4S supports HSPDA speeds of up to 14.4 megabytes per second on AT&T, which is faster than what Verizon and Sprint offer. Metrico said AT&T’s average data download speed was 3.2 Mbps, compared to about 1 Mbps on Verizon and only 581 Kbps on Sprint.
The results could be especially damaging to Sprint, which has invested millions of dollars to be able to offer iPhones to its customers.
Sprint still offers completely unlimited data plans, which may attract many new iPhone owners to its service, but if customers find the new phones working too slowly on Sprint, they may switch to AT&T for faster download speeds.
In addition, if Sprint decides to cap its smartphone data plans, as it has with tablets, the company may lose potential customers if they determine its rivals offer better quality for the device.
Speed is not everything when it comes to a phone, so the migration wouldn’t likely matter to those who are interested in the Sprint iPhone for other reasons.
Metrico’s study found the 4S’ call success rates were slightly better for Verizon than the others, while Sprint’s 4S has better live network voice quality when a user is speaking. But AT&T’s version took the lead on downlink speeds, which the report concluded makes the two carriers similar where voice quality is concerned, and the jury may still be out over whether or not the study will affect customers’ opinions.