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4G vs. 3G vs. WiFi Throughput For Samsung's Epic 4G 103

MojoKid writes "Some of the most popular Android smartphones currently available are members of Samsung's Galaxy S line. Powered by Samsung's own 1GHz ARM Cortex A8-based Hummingbird processor with a four-inch Super-AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, it's no wonder Samsung has sold over 5 million Galaxy S phones. The Epic 4G variant of this phone, available through Sprint, is also one of the scant few 4G capable devices on the market currently. Sprint's 4G network utilizes WiMAX mobile broadband, with a theoretical maximum throughput of 40Mbps. Sprint claims that the average download speed on its 4G network is between 3 to 6Mbps, with peak download speeds above 10Mbps. The performance figures seen here actually show solid throughput for the Epic, besting competitive 3G devices and even versus some with a Wi-Fi connection. 4G WiMAX service is still rather limited geographically, but hopefully devices like these will help to kick the roll-out into gear a bit."
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4G vs. 3G vs. WiFi Throughput For Samsung's Epic 4G

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  • Anecdote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2010 @08:40PM (#33914568)

    Living in one of the better covered 4G cities, my personal experience is that both WiMAX availability and throughput vary widely within the metro area. I would describe the WiMAX coverage as "spotty." When available it seems uniformly faster than 3G on my and my friends' phones. I have seen it get as high as 8Mbps download and as low as 1Mbps download (using Coverage tends to get better as you near the city's core.

    Throughput seems a difficult thing to measure, as it varies so widely in my experience.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fsterman ( 519061 )

      Mod parent up.

      I used to sell for the network that Sprint uses for it's "4g" coverage- it's total crap. Even at fixed positions, the signal waxes and wanes significantly. Only the most naive of customers were really satisfied with it, the rest hated it.

      Maybe this test was at a good location, but the overall experience is just as spotty as current data networks.

      • by pspahn ( 1175617 )

        I live in Denver, 4g is not up quite yet (you can get on down by 16th street mall, but that's about it) and i routinely connect over the current 3g. I get a consistent 3mps. While that may not boggle anyone's mind, remember that I get unlimited data. I have connected on 4g when I've been able to, and, to be honest, it's very fast. I haven't been able to test throughput simply because it's not live yet, but I would say it is easily 5-8mps.

        Actually, now that I think about it, yea... Sprint 4g sucks. You shou

    • Wimax isn't real 4G []. Its just a crappy extension of Wifi. Hence the spottyness.

      Here at Tampere I'm able to get 8Mbps 10km from the city with the good old 3G network using HSPA+. Beats my ADSL over POTS. And the connection degrades gracefully via WDCMA -> EDGE -> GPRS as you reach countryside. See our coverage map []. Carriers here are ignoring Wimax and are building LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks already. Check out Oslo or Stockholm for city wide operational networks if you're visiting.

      • Wimax isn't real 4G []. Its just a crappy extension of Wifi. Hence the spottyness.

        WiMax isn't "real 4G" because there is no "real 4G" because "4G" isn't defined-- just as "3G" was not defined by the ITU before it was used as a marketing term. At one point, even GPRS and Edge were called by some "3G", while others responded that it was more like "2.5G".

        Furthermore, WiMax is not an "extension of Wifi" unless you want to attempt to reduce the significance of OFDMA to that of an "extension", in which case LTE is no more significant, given that it is also based on OFDMA. WiMax and LTE have mo

  • by mattcsn ( 1592281 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @08:41PM (#33914576)

    What good does ever-increasing speed do if I just end up blowing through my data cap that much faster? I can live with lower speeds, I just want reasonable prices per GB.

    • > Coverage tends to get better as you near the city's core.

      It depends. I live ~15 miles southwest of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and routinely get the throttled-max throughput Sprint will allow me to have: ~9mbit down, ~1.2mbit up (I'm about a quarter-mile away from the tower). My experience has been that the closer I get to downtown, the SLOWER and spottier it gets, because then you have more users and more wimax-shadows caused by tall buildings. One of the more amusing wimax shadows is visible at the Spr

    • by ArcherB ( 796902 )

      What good does ever-increasing speed do if I just end up blowing through my data cap that much faster? I can live with lower speeds, I just want reasonable prices per GB.

      Sprint has no data cap. So, for Epic users, this is not a problem.

      • >Sprint has no data cap.

        And Sprint has few 4G towers. The 4G speed won't matter if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

        The nearest 4G towers are 50 miles east [] in Stockton and Modesto. Stockton has the distinction of having among the highest foreclosure rates in California.

    • What good does ever-increasing speed do if I just end up blowing through my data cap that much faster? I can live with lower speeds, I just want reasonable prices per GB.

      Sure, data caps are a big concern, but that hardly negates the benefits of better throughput. If I have a 5GB/mo cap, I may never use more than 2GB, but why wouldn't I want a fast connection for when I *am* using data?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bm_luethke ( 253362 )

      It depends on what you are doing - there are applications that need speed but will rarely push much data on a monthly basis.

      For instance we have a product that runs on phones that can use the 3g connection for public safety communications back to the home base for communications (this particular application includes visual elements too - if they simply need voice there is a telephone connection that avoids this). It is basically unusable for that application in the vast majority of the country even as a bac

    • As a 12-year customer of Sprint, and as someone who's used mobile data access since before there were "smartphones", and still does with his shiny new Epic, I will tell you this:

      I do not now, nor have I ever had, a data cap on my cell phone.

      You, my friend, need to check the marketplace and either get a better provider or a better plan.

      • Not possible if you are in the UK. All providers cap the data (and charge e.g. £2 per megabyte if you go over, usually about 1GB a month). T-mobile is an exception in that they will throttle rather than charge when you exceed your limit.
    • What good does ever-increasing speed do

      Not much but LTE also has far better latency, which makes browsing or other tasks a lot more desktop-like.

      Also most people would use about the same amount of bandwidth, they'd just be done with what they are doing faster. The exception would be some video feeds with variable bitrate depending on available bandwidth, where you really could use more data in the same span of time even without meaning to.

      • As a point, I typically get around a 60-70ms ping on my EVO; I've tethered it to my computer when my home internet was down and quite successfully played several games on it.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Re What good does ever-increasing speed do
      Telstra in Australia is/was the poster telco for this.
      They pushed speed and more speed as a way to provide some PR space/nation building spin beyond the race to ever more data per month.
      Its just smoke and mirrors, trinkets and beads for average telco consumers.
      Backhaul roll out, number portability, non contract options would be the key to real plan innovations.
      The freedom to find any telco that gives you speed, data and service as a customer vs a monopoly tha
    • What good does ever-increasing speed do if I just end up blowing through my data cap that much faster? I can live with lower speeds, I just want reasonable prices per GB.

      I get what you're saying, but I have a 100mb plan, and I use it accordingly (no video, no browsing, just e-mail and calendar). But once in a while I need to pull down a few megs for some web browsing or something like that, and I don't want to wait, especially if the limiting factor is my phone and not the network. This can actually become a safety issue when I'm pulling up google maps because I've been drinking and am not in the best part of town. Being able to pull up the quickest route home and put my ph

  • LTE (Score:3, Informative)

    by sonicmerlin ( 1505111 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @08:46PM (#33914596)
    Clearwire is trialling an LTE network in Phoenix right now, saying it will achieve 20-70 Mbps throughput. They have the spectrum to actually achieve this too. When WiMax 2 and LTE Advanced come out, assuming enough competition exists to prevent caps from showing up, DSL companies will be put out of business. This of course is why Verizon sold its rural landlines to Frontier. They know they can come back with 700 MHz LTE, and later LTE a, and blow the pants off of slow-poke 1.5 Mbps DSL.
    • LTE-Vented pants. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ostracus ( 1354233 )

      They need to economically "blow the pants off" the competition first.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That slowpoke dsl will probably have a latency of less then half the wireless... (Damn the faster and faster speeds, fix the latency. Whats the point of gigabit internet if you have a ping of 2-3 seconds?)

      • Clear(wire), using WiMAX today, has latencies of about 60ms. It's not ideal, but it works for gaming.

        Unfortunately, they've also started to have *really* bad congestion problems - on a nominally unlimited download plan (practically speaking, the top DL rate is ~12 Mbps), I've been getting 0.2 to 3.2 Mbps for the last couple weeks. The upload, which is capped at 1Mbps, is almost unaffected and often substantially faster than the DL.

        Even though the latency is staying pretty good, modern VoIP-capable games sta

        • Clearwire's problem is that they are trying to sell the product to anyone and everyone. They retail stores, and tons of pop-up tent booths in grocery store parking lots, mall kiosks, guys on street corners at major intersections. There's a Clearwire banner in the local Kroger, there's several at the mall, etc.

          Last weekend, they had a popup tent in a car stereo shop/liquor store parking lot in a bad part of town where the only people out are hookers and their customers. But Clearwire was there and would

      • Re:LTE (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sonicmerlin ( 1505111 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @11:28PM (#33915252)
        LTE, LTE a and WiMax 2 has much better latency than WiMax. TeliaSonera in Sweden has a commercial LTE network running with latencies of 20-40 ms in real usage settings. It's ridiculously fast. Online gaming over wireless will be great.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        It's the Latency, Stupid [] was written way back in the dark ages (1996), but Stuart Cheshire's essay on latency vs. bandwidth is still a good read.
    • DSL companies have been switching to fiber optic. At least the ones which know any better.
  • Slashvertisement? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cidolfas ( 1358603 ) on Friday October 15, 2010 @08:56PM (#33914646)

    This reads like an ad with just enough to make it slashdot-worthy... but the line at the end makes me think it's just necessary gadget-lust spec gushing. I can't tell if he copy-pasted bits of the article from a press release, or just chose their writing style.

    • Powered by Samsung's own 1GHz ARM Cortex A8-based Hummingbird processor with a four-inch Super-AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, it's no wonder Samsung has sold over 5 million Galaxy S phones.

      No doubt it is the 1GHz ARM Cortex A8-based Hummingbird and Super-AMOLED that have people rushing to the stores.

  • Really I do. I'm typing this on it. Downoaded the full version of Angry Birds app for free today. Best ultraportable pc I've ever had, and the calls sound great too.

    3g wireless internet is a little slow. 4g is much better but coverage is spotty and it kills your battery. Still, I would want that if I used the hotspot feature.

    wifi rocks though. Watched a 2 hour hd movie on youtube last night. Not a glitch the whole time.

    The times they are a-changing

    • Thanks, I played through the lite version in an hour or so...

      I've got a G2 now and HSPA is noticeably faster than the 3g ever was...

      • Cool. It took me three hours to burn through the lite version, but the kids were "helping". While I'm glad I get 150 levels with the Android Full ad supported version, I'd like to buy the Full version so I can let the kids play with less supervision. The ads present a lot of risk that the kids might follow some clicks and buy stuff while I'm not looking. They are kids after all. They don't know where money to buy stuff comes from.
  • I'll concur that on my Epic, wimax DOES seem to be solidly faster than wifi inside my house... but then again, my router (Linksys WRP400) utterly sucks for wi-fi, and the Epic's wi-fi is pretty mediocre, too. Mix in Comcast maxing out at 16mbit/sec down (largely theoretical) and capped at 256kbit up (on the dot), compare that to the 6-8mbit/sec down and 800-900kbit/sec up I routinely get indoors with wimax (pegged to ~9mbit down and 1.2mbit up if I go outside), and it's unsurprising that wimax looks good.


  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Friday October 15, 2010 @10:41PM (#33915070) Homepage Journal
    How many 4G phones are out there right now? It has to be a tiny number compared to 3G handsets. It seems like it should be trivially easy for the phone to rip through data because there's little to no competition for the airtime at the moment. I'd be more interested in what this looks like in a couple of years when there is a million iPhones/Androids/etc... on Sprint all competing for the bandwidth.
    • Yeah, the wimax service used to be pretty good here in Melbourne but my wife has changed to 3G because it has become almost unusable in the last six months or so.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 )

      The terms "3g" and "4g" mean NOTHING. Given that Verizon uses CDMA and Sprint uses GSM, comparing the two on any technical basis is meaningless.

      "3g" is a term I've been hearing for a decade or so. It's meant many things and it seems to be recycled over and over. It seems that "4g" is death to any technology that gets its label; within a year or to it's called "3G". But what is it? What is 4g?

      1) It's not an encoding technology for wireless; those are already covered with terms like "cdma" and "gsm".

      2) It has

  • I recently switched from a 4G EVO (Wimax) to a 3G Vibrant (HSDPA) and here in Chicago the speeds are almost identical. With Sprint I got 3-6mbps with good reception on Wimax and with the Vibrant I get more like 2-5mbps with T-mobile's 3G HSDPA network. [] The Vibrant doesn't do HSDPA+ btw, just vanilla.

    The difference is with the EVO I had to manually turn 4G on and off because its such an incredible battery drainer. I usually stayed on Sprint's 3G network which is CDMA and terrible, you'd be lucky to get 1 mbp

    • I'll second that. I've got T-Mobile on my N900 in Houston and I often get 6.5 down and 1.5 up. And it's $10 per month less when you bring your own phone and no contract. Pretty sweet.
  • If this is supposed to be an article about 3g vs 4g vs wifi, as the title led me to believe, why does tfs begin

    "Some of the most popular Android smartphones currently available are members of Samsung's Galaxy S line. Powered by Samsung's own 1GHz ARM Cortex A8-based Hummingbird processor with a four-inch Super-AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, it's no wonder Samsung has sold over 5 million Galaxy S phones."

    Less blatant next time, please...

    • Al final he encotrado mejores moviles fabricados por los chinos, con más prestaciones que de las que tiene el iphone, y por mucho menos dinero. Me canso que me estafen por ponerle una mazanita como logo :
  • Hey you smart geeks -- why does this matter at all if the test is done over WiFi?

    This has nothing to do with 3g or 4g performance at all. It has to do with WiFi performance. And Wi

  • So in the end, after reading the article, this is yet another phone with pathetic battery life.

    They tested the phone in New York City (where I assume there is always at least a few bars on the phone) and it couldn't even make it an entire day. I understand there's going to be compromises for all of that power and speed, but why are they NOT taking a previous gen phone's speed as status quo for a new, different model with improved battery life.

    I own a Samsung Moment right now (many more gripes than jus

    • I hate to say this, but aside from the usual slashdot bashing (which honestly, I found kinda odd), there actually is a recently released smartphone with greatly increased battery life compared to its predecessor:

      The Apple iPhone 4

      As far as I have seen the new iPhone usually gets the best scores among all smartphones right now in terms of battery and a lot of user reports seem to suggest that they get great battery life out of it, even without disabling all connectivity options.

      Yes, you could pack a
      • Seriously? You found the bashing of the iPhone 4 odd?

        Well, welcome to slashdot, I guess, in a couple of weeks, you'll get the lay of the land.

        Here's a hint: Apple, Microsoft, the RIAA, and sort of law enforcement = bad and should be flamed immediately and hard, Linux and really any variety of FOSS = good and should be praised heavily. Any news story which doesn't actually have anything to do with any of the above will eventually be twisted around until it does and the flaming/fanboidom can begin.

      • I didn't want to bring in the iPhone bit, since it's an android phone and different carrier, but I'll agree. Even my old iPhone 3G had better battery life on its worst day.

        Maybe that's why I'm so grumpy.

    • The latest firmware took mine from 8 hours normal to 12 - 15 hours normal. Everything stock.

    • Not all android phones get the same battery life. Currently the Motorola Droids (1,X,2) get the best battery life. But as another poster mentioned, iPhone 4 still beats them for longevity.
  • As customers we've spent billions of dollars on 3G. Can we get network reliability and availability please? If we can have that I don't care how many G's it is or much faster it is.
    Get maps to download quick enough in the places where we actually need the maps and we'll really have something to get excited about.
  • Can't 4G be implemented in software? With the N900 that can also run Android, can't I just install Android and use 4g?

    • Err... no. Think of 3G and 4G like AM and FM radio. The N900 is kind of like a radio that can only receive FM (they sell a lot of stuff nowadays that has an FM receiver w/o AM). You cannot get that FM receiver to receive AM, you need to include an AM receiver. If you want to know the details, 3G and 4G use different frequencies, like AM and FM do. They also use different modulation techniques, again like AM and FM radio.
      • From what I understand for example with WiFi only the drivers put a limit on the radio, the rest is in the drivers (Including frequency selection and power management with limitations that must meet regulations). So I guess I was thinking of it more like a re-usable Open GSM stack.

        • Good luck trying to get an FCC certification with something like an Open GSM stack and then finding a carrier willing to let you on their network with that.
        • In the context of wifi, 3G and 4G is a lot like going from 802.11g to 802.11n, especially with stuff like MIMO. You can't simulate MIMO in software.
  • MicroCell (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Asmodeus ( 18881 )

    Thought I'd point out that I have an Epic and in tests I've run against iPhone's (3g, 3gs, 4g), it's been faster than them all at internet access. This went against the tests though showing the iPhone 4g was faster. Then, at the bottom of the page I saw that the iPhone's where benefiting from a 3g microcell. Talk about apples to oranges...

    This article was written by people just barely technologically literate so I'll give another vote for it being written by someone's marketing department.

    As for the bat

  • I get as high as 15 Mbits/second download from on my iPhone 4, which is nearly twice the speed they reported. I got the same download speed on my iPhone 3GS.

    That's on a 25 Mbit/second FIOS connection at my home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ptbarnett ( 159784 )

      I get as high as 15 Mbits/second download from on my iPhone 4

      After postng, I realized that was actually the Xtreme Labs test. So, I went and downloaded the application. I got nearly 20 MBits/sec download and 15 MBits/sec upload (WiFi on a 25/15 FIOS connection).

  • FWIW I got about 8mbits/s down and 1.2mbits/s up on 4g when I was in Santa Fe Springs CA on my Sprint HTC EVO 4g using the app.

Loose bits sink chips.