LTE vs 3G signal strength (AT&T)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Derek87, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. Derek87 macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2009
    so, i know this has loosely been discussed elsewhere, but being the scientist that i am, i hope to get more data points.

    in general, i've been finding LTE signal to be much weaker than 3G at my home and work which means my calls are much less reliable unless i turn off LTE. sort of inconvenient to keeping turning LTE on an off manually, but that's what i've started doing.

    anyway, i would appreciate added data points to what i paste below. if you call


    it puts you phone into "field test mode" and your "bars" become a number in negative db signal strength.

    at work / home (my two data points), i have found

    LTE: -109db / -104db
    3G: -90db / -84db

    these numbers of course fluctuate, but you get the picture. this translates to typically 1 bar at home and work on LTE, and 4-5 bars using 3G/4G.

    what are you guys experiencing?

    (both of these locations are in the SF Bay Area, CA)
  2. CrayzeeGuy macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2012
    I'm looking at

    4G: -60dB (full bars)
    LTE: -114dB (1 bar)
  3. Derek87 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2009
    thanks for the check in.

    i continue to find that in general LTE signal is lower than 3G in many places. there are a few exceptions (i've stopped looking) but i think it basically speaks to a lower density of LTE towers.

    thankfully, i got our microcell working again at home and my phone, even with LTE on, seems to select the microcell.

    at work, i've resigned myself to daily switching off LTE to make sure i have better voice coverage (i have good wifi at work)...i have to remind myself to switch back to LTE for my commute home where the speed difference is huge (except for the few shadow spots on my train ride)
  4. joeshmo2010 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2009
    Seattle, WA
    Your LTE signal strength has no affect on your ability to make and receive calls because LTE is not used for voice. Anytime the phone is used for a call, the LTE reverts to HSPA+.
  5. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Sorry to bump an older thread, but in locations that have low LTE (say 1 bar) but much more 3G/4G (say 4-5 bars), how many bars does the iPhone show in the top left? :confused:
  6. Derek87 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2009
    while i thought what you wrote was true, that has not been my experience. when LTE is active and i am showing "low bars" (1-2) i get unreliable voice service. if from the same location, i switch off LTE, i often get a stronger signal and much better voice quality with LTE disabled.

    weird, i know...and of course anecdotal. but it has happened often enough to me that i choose to switch off LTE when i know i need to make/receive calls in a low LTE signal area.


    not sure i understand your question. in my experience, it shows a stronger signal most of the time when LTE is turned off. (ie, it shows "more bars" or as i previously posted, a much higher Signal)
  7. wgr73 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 31, 2005
    New Mexico
    Great thread! I will test and add data to your thread.

    If I don't live in an area with LTE, is it possible for me to turn LTE off? I can't seem to even find it in the options menus
  8. FSMBP macrumors 68020


    Jan 22, 2009
    Yeah, just go SETTINGS, then GENERAL, then CELLULAR and turn off LTE.

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