Last year the T-Mobile Galaxy S II had a leg up on AT&T’s variant courtesy of its Qualcomm chipset and T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network. This year, both variants will be running Qualcomm silicon to support their respective 4G networks. This time around however, AT&T will be utilizing 4G LTE for its data connection–can the T-Mobile Galaxy S III keep up?
AT&T runs its 4G LTE and HSPA+ networks in parallel, defaulting to LTE where its available. According to the carrier, users can expect 4G LTE speeds to be around 10 times faster than 3G and 3 times faster than its HSPA+ network. Now don’t start fretting quite yet, not all HSPA+ networks are built the same. T-Mobile USA has one of the fastest HSPA+ networks around, and they should be switching over to LTE soon.
Let’s take a look at some SpeedTest comparisons between the T-Mobile HSPA+ and AT&T 4G LTE Galaxy S IIIs:
As we can see, AT&T 4G LTE nearly lives up to its 3x HSPA+ speed claim, putting down a whopping 26Mbps versus to T-Mobile’s 10Mbps:
ATT 4G LTE vs. T-Mobile’s HSPA+
Ping times were comparable and upload speeds were similarly fast. In real world usage, I doubt you will be able to notice much of a difference in the page load and buffer times between the two speeds. For single threaded usage, HSPA+’s 8-10Mbps will be more than adequate, however tethering/mobile AP with multiple devices may cause some slow downs. The real question here becomes 1) do you have consistent 4G LTE coverage in your locale and 2) do you care more about battery life or data speed? If you don’t have 4G LTE coverage, then it doesn’t really matter so much which variant you pick up, and if battery life is a major concern, then the T-Mobile’s HSPA+ version ought to last you longer as 4G LTE is a battery hog.
In our opinion, 4G LTE is overkill–those types of speeds might be useful for torrenting Blu-rays but it’s more than overkill for Facebooking and web browsing. Really the bottom line is, which carrier can give you the best reception in the area you most frequent? I for example, got no reception anywhere in my apartment while using T-Mobile when living on campus. I missed A LOT of phone calls during that 1.5 year stretch, so make sure you guys get the right fit for your needs: 1) coverage, 2) usage and 3) battery life.