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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

With its mid-band 5G network that's widely available, T-Mobile has earned the title of fastest U.S. mobile network in 2021, according to testing conducted by PCMag.


Each year, PCMag sends drivers to traverse thousands of miles of the United States. This year, drivers traveled over 10,000 miles and surveyed network speeds in 30 major metro areas and six rural regions to find the fastest carrier. T-Mobile had the fastest 5G speeds in 24 cities and rural areas, while AT&T won out in eight locations and Verizon won in two.

Verizon had the fastest maximum speeds overall, but T-Mobile had the highest average speeds at 162.3 Mb/s, beating out AT&T and Verizon, which came in at 98.2 Mb/s and 93.7 Mb/s, respectively. T-Mobile earned a total speed score of 96, while AT&T received an 89 and Verizon received an 86.

T-Mobile's mid-band spectrum covers more than 165 million people across the United States thanks to its Sprint acquisition, and it was able to deliver the most consistent results. According to PCMag, T-Mobile's speeds between 150 Mb/s and 500 Mb/s were far better than what Verizon and AT&T were able to deliver in most areas.

It's worth noting that T-Mobile only wins out when it comes to 5G speeds, and a 5G phone is required to take advantage of the 5G network. When it comes to 4G speeds, AT&T was the winner. AT&T also outperformed T-Mobile in rural areas, most notably in the western United States.

Verizon's 5G was by far the fastest 5G because of its mmWave availability, but those speeds are highly limited to major metro areas and are not accessible to most people at this time. Just 3.27 percent of PCMag's metro area tests saw Verizon's mmWave connectivity available. Verizon's 5G network turned out to be slightly faster than its 4G network when taking into account total 5G availability.

AT&T's 5G network was slower than its 4G network in most tests, so for AT&T, PCMag used its 4G network results in the speed tests. According to PCMag, AT&T's network is excellent, but hasn't improved over the course of the last year.

PCMag's full breakdown of its testing results provides more insight into each carrier, with data available for each individual city that was visited during the speed test.

Article Link: T-Mobile Wins Title of Fastest U.S. Carrier in 2021 5G Test


macrumors 6502a
Jun 22, 2010
I switched from Mint Mobile (T-Mobile Towers) to US Mobile (Verizon Towers). I noticed that where T-Mobile is good, it has the fastest speeds. Verizon is more reliable though between towers. Not as fast but it just works in my area well.
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macrumors 65816
Aug 15, 2011
I'm on Verizon and not surprised it came in last. There's no 5G in my area, but I regularly travel to two nearby cities with good 5G coverage. In those cities, 5G is no faster than LTE on my iPhone 12 Pro Max (using the Speedtest app and making sure I'm using the same server for the LTE and 5G tests).

One of the reasons I upgraded from 11 Pro to 12 Pro was for the 5G, and that hasn't turned out well for me. I hope the rest of you who are on Verizon have had a better experience.


macrumors regular
Jan 17, 2019
Verizon is absolute garbage. I have AT&T and I usually get 50-100mbps pretty much everywhere. I’ve been testing T-Mobile as an esim on my phone and sometimes I have “no service” and sometimes I get 500mbps. T-Mobile is the fastest when it works, they just need better coverage.


macrumors 6502
Oct 11, 2018
S.E. Michigan, USA
Now if only they could improve their coverage
Yup. One of the reasons my wife and I upgraded our iPhone 6S' to iPhone SE (2020)'s was to get Band 71 (600MHz) support. Here we are a year after the UHF channel re-pack was completed, thus freeing-up the space, and, near as I can tell there's still no 600MHz deployed around here.

Even their Band 12 (700Mhz) support isn't all it's cracked up to be. Despite the fact they claim they have all my state thoroughly covered, we still roam on AT&T out in more rural areas.

Amazing Iceman

macrumors 603
Nov 8, 2008
Florida, U.S.A.
I have T-Mobile and just ran a test on my iPhone 11 Pro (LTE, not 5G) and got this:

Bars: 3/4 (3 out of 4 bars)
Download: 229 mbps
Upload: 20.4 mbps
Ping: 23ms
Jitter: 7.8ms
Loss: 0%

I don't remember having this much speed last time I checked, which was not long ago. Impressive!


macrumors member
Dec 12, 2006
Washington, DC
T-Mobile is hot garbage in many neighborhoods of San Francisco, which is ironic considering what SF represents. I’m lucky to get 2 mbps down in my new home in centrally located Eureka Valley, just west of the Castro theater. Our family is switching to Verizon when the new iPhone drops.


macrumors 6502a
Jan 27, 2018
I just tested my 12Pro a couple miles outside of downtown Orlando. I got 289 down and 61.5 up. It did hit 329 down but didn't stay there.


macrumors 6502
Oct 11, 2018
S.E. Michigan, USA
T-Mobile is hot garbage in many neighborhoods of San Francisco.
Do any carriers do well in SF? That's got to be a devilishly difficult area to cover, what with the terrain, building density, and water. Plus I'd almost bet many SF residents would protest the skyline pollution of cell towers.
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