Strong 3G signal vs weak LTE signal?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Faize, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2011
    I've noticed that the iPhone tends to cling onto very weak LTE signals - I occasionally see signals weaker than -110 dBm - even if the area has a very strong 3G signal.

    Is LTE really so great that even an extremely weak LTE signal will always beat a 3G signal? Or is this a marketing thing, where Apple simply wants to make the carrier's LTE coverage look as good as possible?
  2. macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2012
    Antenna connectivity (number of bars) does NOT determine download speeds, and I think this has already been reiterated many times in the forum.

    A weak LTE signal is supposed to be better than a strong 3G signal.
  3. macrumors 6502


    Jul 22, 2010
    United Kingdom
    With 1-2 bars LTE here in the uk I see 30/20 down/up speeds, with full 3G in lucky to see 10/2 so I'd say poor lte signal trumps good 3G :)
  4. macrumors 601

    Dec 18, 2012
    Charlotte, NC
    Yeah even when it's 1-2 bars of LTE it's still faster than 3G. At least on Verizon.
  5. macrumors 65816

    Spectrum Abuser

    Aug 27, 2011
    This is just a reincarnation of the iPhone 3G era when a good amount of users lived on the fringes of 3G connectivity. The argument at that point was whether full coverage of EDGE was better data wise than one bar of HSPA(3G). Under normal circumstances with average traffic load on the local tower HSPA would always be faster than EDGE even with poor signal. The same applies to full coverage of HSPA+ versus a one bar connection of LTE.
  6. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 12, 2011
    Not on the battery ;)
  7. thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2011
    Speed-wise I have no doubt that 1 bar of LTE is faster, but what about connection quality?

    I often find that iPhone Safari takes between 10 seconds and 10 minutes to establish a connection with a web server - something that happens instantly over wifi. See for details on that.

    Of course, I can't say with certainty whether that's because I only had 1 bar of reception at the time or whether I simply noticed that I only had 1 bar of reception because things were excruciatingly slow.
  8. macrumors 65816

    Jun 2, 2010
    If you're noticing it taking up to 10 minutes to load a site in Safari on the iPhone with one bar of LTE service, one of three things is probably the issue: the site is overloaded or not configured properly, the cell network is overloaded or not configured properly, or your phone is defective.

    When I got the iPhone 5 on launch day, I noticed on Verizon that whenever I would wake the phone from sleep and try to move data over the cell network, the phone would hang and not receive or send data for 10-20 seconds. After that initial lag, as long as I didn't lock the phone again, data continued to send and receive instantaneously. There were a number of us on this board in the Southern U.S. having this issue on Verizon that first weekend after the launch. Then, on the Monday following the Friday launch, Verizon must've changed something on their end because all our iPhone 5s began suddenly moving data instantly when waking the phone from sleep. Just goes to show you that a carrier issue can affect how your phone moves data.

    Do you know anyone else in your immediate local area that has the same carrier and handset you have but does not have this issue when they go to the same site(s) you're going to? That narrows it down to being an issue with your phone pretty quickly.
  9. thread starter macrumors member

    Sep 23, 2011
    The site in question is Google so that part is easy enough to replicate.

    The problem is the carrier and the phone - the people I know using my carrier have either the 4S, the Galaxy Nexus, or the Galaxy S3 and the people I know using the iPhone 5 are on different carriers.
  10. macrumors 65816

    Jun 2, 2010
    What carrier are you using? Have you gone to the carrier's store in your area to see if you can replicate the issue on other iPhone 5 handsets on the store floor?

    I know when we were having the issue with Verizon LTE here in the Southeast when the iPhone 5 first launched, several people went to Verizon stores in their area and noticed every single iPhone 5 on the store floor exhibited the same behavior.

    People would replicate the issue on every iPhone 5 in the Verizon store and then walk over to a bank of Android phones and not have the issue on any of the Android phones. None of the Verizon employees in the store could explain why the iPhone 5 was behaving the way that it was. At that point, though, we knew it was either an iPhone 5 problem or a Verizon problem. It turns out in that case that it was a Verizon problem.

    Have you tried swapping iPhone 5 handsets to see if the problem persists? If it were taking up to 10 minutes to load Google's home page on my iPhone 5 with one bar of LTE service, I'd be using any spare time I had to work with my carrier to either just swap the phone for a new iPhone 5, try to replicate it with another iPhone 5 in the same geographical area, or (if the problem occurs with multiple iPhone 5s), I'd make as much noise as I could over the phone and via social media to get the carrier's attention so they'd look into the problem.

    I can tell you that I typically have one bar of LTE service in my home on Verizon and I can load Google's home page in about a second to a second and a half over LTE every single time I try it after clearing the browser's cache.

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