iPhone 3G deceptive signal bars (EDGE is faster than 3G)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by djuarez03, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. djuarez03 macrumors regular

    May 23, 2008
    I would like to know if anybody can either confirm this or refute this, but I would be very interested to know what your own independent studies have showed.

    This morning, I ran a serious of tests on my iPhone, testing what kind of download speeds I get here at work on my 3G signal. What I found were very surprising results.

    These download speed tests were conducted using websites such as testmyiphone.com and iphonespeedtest.com. On each of these websites, I took 7 speed tests using both a 3G and an EDGE signal, with bars at full strength at all times.

    Testing my iPhone from the same location, I found that my average 3G download speeds were around 114 kbps.

    When I turned off my 3G signal and ran speed tests using my EDGE signal, my tests showed an average speed of 203kbps!!

    I know that EDGE cannot possibly be faster than 3G, so here is what I think is going on. Basically, I think Apple pulled a fast one on us (not intentionally I hope) when we got OS 2.1. Before 2.1, everyone seemed to complain that the 3G signal on AT&T's network was weak everywhere. But after 2.1, everyone started reporting that their 3G signal was now even better than before because it displayed full bars more often. Even I experienced this. But now, I'm begginning to think that whatever changes they made on 2.1 to "boost" the 3G signal is resulting in deceptive signal strength as opposed to "actual" signal strength. Because to be honest, I think that the speed test results I received today are more in line with what my signal bars showed before 2.1 (which were 2-3 bars on average).

    Has anyone else found this to also be true in their case?
  2. bluenoise macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2008
    I ran similar tests with my iPhone and found the following results:

    EDGE: ~200 kbps
    3G: ~700 kbps

    Prior to July with previous 3G phones, I'd get over 1.3 Mbps. Around mid-July (before getting my iPhone 3G), I was seeing closer to 400-500 kbps. So, it seems to be improving a bit since then, but not as good as the pre-July speeds I was seeing.
  3. iAmBeer macrumors newbie

    Oct 3, 2008
    New York
    I think it depends on your current location because if you are in the
    area that has many 3g users your connection speed is definitely drop.:mad:

    I'm using t-mobile, so I don't have any 3g connection. Below is my edge speed.

    Attached Files:

  4. djuarez03 thread starter macrumors regular

    May 23, 2008
    Well, assuming that the signal meter is correct, and that I really am getting a strong signal, then maybe you are correct in that the current tower I am using is being pounded by 3G users. Assuming that is the case, I never thought 3G would actually be slower than EDGE with that strong of a signal. Even if I wouldn't be able to get maximum speeds, I would have assumed that full bars on 3G would still beat full bars on EDGE, no matter how many 3G users are connected to the tower.

    Am I correct in my suppositions?
  5. jeffdc5 macrumors member


    Sep 13, 2008
    edge is painfully slow compared to 3g were I live. I don't know what apple did but 2.1 is great.
  6. lavrishevo macrumors 68000


    Jan 9, 2007
    Really depends on the load on the tower. Don't forget about everyone who uses AT&T to surf via wireless cards. Here is what I just got in Nashville. Not to shabby.

    Attached Files:

  7. Oilbrnr macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2007
    IMHO, all Apple did was tweak the indicator. Many of us verified this by doing the field test before and after the 2.1 update.
  8. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    There really is more involved regarding Internet speed than just a strong RF connection between your phone and the tower.

    At my desk at work, with 1 bar of 3G signal, I get 422kbps.

    Hmmm. I used to get no 3G signal at work before. Since the update, I get 1 bar.
  9. samiwas macrumors 68000

    Aug 26, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    Well, akin to how a full-bar display on your laptop for wifi doesn't guarantee high speed, neither would full signal bars for 3G. The bars measure signal strength for voice, not speed for data.
  10. sparkyms macrumors 65816

    Feb 22, 2007
    Southampton UK
  11. djuarez03 thread starter macrumors regular

    May 23, 2008
    Very interesting, I was not aware of this. This certainly helps me understand what might be going on.
  12. bluenoise macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2008
    Agreed. In fact, the bar count seems to have no affect on my speed, compared to time-of-day and possible network load. For instance, I can get 400 kbps with full bars in the morning, but get 700-800 kbps with one bar in the late evening.

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