the myth of 3G....

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by fiftydollarshoe, Oct 17, 2007.

  1. fiftydollarshoe macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2007
    #1
    We've all read articles about why Apple's (AAPL) iPhone won't sell because it doesn't boast the latest and greatest 3G technology, which can transmit data at 1.8, 3.6, 7.2, and in some places, 14.4 megabits per second. Instead, Apple chose to go with the more ubiquitous EDGE system, which tops out at 0.2 mbits per second here in the US, and presumably will do the same in the UK and Germany when the iPhone launches there next month.

    But the question left unasked as been, "Does 3G really improve the user experience dramatically?" Most pundits would reply, "Well, of course Internet experiences improve with higher bandwidth. That's why the world went broadband." And if the pundit is having a bad day, they'll add "Duh."

    Funny thing though. They're wrong. Bandwidth doesn't affect the mobile phone experience nearly as much as most people think. And in some cases, high bandwidth Internet is actually worse for the user than a low-bandwidth one.

    How can this be? Because:

    People confuse network bandwidth with latency. Think of latency as how long it takes bits to go from the server to your phone, while bandwidth is how many lanes of highway those bits can use to get there. Because mobile phone networks use narrow-band radio signals, their latency is on average 2 to 10 times that of a wired network. And because of the way the Web HTTP protocol works, the quality of a Web user experience depends much more on low latency than high bandwidth, because Web pages typically contain lots of different elements such as pictures, ads, and widgets coming from many different sources. The result: loading Web pages on a 3G phone may actually take about the same amount of time as a phone loading those pages over an EDGE network because all the network time is spent setting up and tearing down connections, not actually sending big amounts of data. And so far, most carriers have preferred to optimize bandwidth at the expense of latency. Why? Because it's more marketable (see erroneous analyst quote above).

    High bandwidth radio networks are more error-prone. Because of the sophisticated signaling needed to do high-data rate transmission over narrow-band radios, higher bandwidth networks don't do as well in real-world radio environments as a lower speed network will. Multi-path interference, doppler frequency changes, and radio noise disrupt high-bandwidth signals more than low. And since phones using TCP connections -- the dominant connection type used in Web browsing -- have to retransmit data that is corrupted by errors, even an error rate only a few percent higher will dramatically slow down Internet experiences.

    Phone processors and software don't necessarily keep up with fast data transmission. I noted this phenomenon when I compared my Nokia E61i with the Apple iPhone. Despite the Nokia's 3G and WiFi network capability, the phone actually felt significantly slower than Apple's iPhone on the same networks. Why? Because the Nokia processor/OS/software combination was simply slower at moving bits than the iPhone is. The result: even with a 54 megabit WiFi network -- a network several times faster than the fastest 3G network -- the Internet experience on the Nokia was significantly slower and poorer than that of the iPhone. The phone just couldn't keep up.

    High bandwidth networks drain batteries. Power consumption of any chip increases according to the frequency squared. That means if you want your network to go 10 times faster, the chip inside your phone managing that network consumes 100 times the power that a slower chip would (It's not quite that simple because of different signaling techniques, but the overall principle still holds). This is why Steve Jobs has decried the power consumption of 3G networks -- that speedy signaling actually matters in a battery-powered device. So why don't European users see this power-draining effect today with their phones? Well, check out the Nokia message boards and you'll find that they do experience some of the effect, but that effect is diminished by the fact that Europe has a much higher density of cell towers than the US does. And since cell phones decrease their radio power output when signal strength is high, the frequency effect of 3G transmission is partially offset by the fact they can use lower power amplifier settings for their radios.

    The bottom line: Carriers, analysts, and consumers alike have an unhealthy obsession with bandwidth to the exclusion of other important factors that affect the user experience with a phone. Just as the computer industry finally figured out that more gigahertz wasn't necessarily better for users, the phone industry is going to discover the same point (and for the same reasons). And companies that use limited bandwidth in smarter ways to deliver a better user experience -- like Apple -- are going to have a leg up on their competitors no matter what network they use. Let's hope it doesn't take phone carriers as long as it took the computer industry to figure out they need to sell something other than technology to win over the average consumer.
     
  2. clevin macrumors G3

    clevin

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2006
    #2
    bad assumption

    apple didn't

    CHOOSE

    to use EDGE

    apple just chose to partner with ATT

    EU iPhone will probably support 3G, and we already know french iPhone will be unlocked.
     
  3. shoelessone macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2007
    #3
    Good points.

    I'm actually in the process of canceling my cable internet.

    Anybody have any good recomendations for a good dial-up isp?


    p.s. in seriousness, lower power consumption 3g + iPhone > iPhone w/ EDGE.
     
  4. fiftydollarshoe thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 28, 2007
    #4
    One of the big reasons the iPhone isn't 3G is that millions will be sold at high profit margins with old & inexpensive technology and in a year and a half, many of the same people who bought version 1, will turn around & buy version 2 with 3G capability.
     
  5. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    Cabin by a lake
    #5
    I agree that how quickly the device can process the information is often more important than bandwidth. A fast device can look good on lower data speeds, compared to a slow device with high data speeds.

    But all that does not excuse not having a fast device with high data speeds, which is what the iPhone should've been.
     
  6. Voidness macrumors 6502a

    Voidness

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    #6
    That's why HSDPA was invented: To drastically decrease the latency issues in 3G. Unfortunately, most 3G phones don't have HSDPA, including the Nokia E61i . 3G phones without HSDPA are limited to 384 kbps, and the speeds you mentioned aren't achievable without HSDPA.
     
  7. Passante macrumors 6502a

    Passante

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    #7
    The OP should provide credit to the author he quoted.
     
  8. TXCraig macrumors 6502a

    TXCraig

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    #8
    I've always though you would see very little diffence between the 2G and 3G iphone in speed of the current set of applicaitons. This is why Apple chose battery life over speed.

    Its almost like the cell carriers have brainwashed people into thinking 3G is the end all. Now people think if its not 3G its not worth having.
     
  9. kdarling macrumors demi-god

    kdarling

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    #9
    Again, though do not forget this:

    3G on ATT would allow using the internet AND phone at the SAME TIME, without WiFi.

    No more missed calls while surfing. The ability to send video or emails while talking. The ability to use direction services while on the phone. Etc.

    A "breakthrough device" should be able to do that.
     
  10. mcdj macrumors 604

    mcdj

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    NYC
    #10
    Nail, meet hammer.
     
  11. davpel macrumors member

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    Jul 3, 2007
    #11
    Say what you will, but my last two phones prior to the iPhone were both 3g (Pantech PN-820 and Samsung i730), and without any hesitation I can say that going from those devices to the iPhone was like going from DSL back to a 56k dialup modem.
     
  12. chr1s60 macrumors 68000

    chr1s60

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    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #12
    I don't mind EDGE. I currently get about 6 hours of use + standby time before I need to charge my phone. With 3G that number would go down at least a few hours, there have been tests done to show that. When iPhone was released Jobs said for 3G it would have taken too much battery life and the chips were too big and the phone would have had to be wider or taller for them. iPhone is the perfect size right now. With the new 3G chips and the continued expansion of 3G in the US, the next iPhone will certainly have 3G. I believe EDGE was the right call for the current iPhone. I wouldn't have bought an iPhone with 3G if I was only able to get 3-4 hours of use per day out of it.
     
  13. markjewiss macrumors member

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    Feb 8, 2007
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    Dunmow, UK
    #13
    Sorry, but have you actually used a well established 3G network? Some of the points you make are true, but the simple fact is that applications that provide a rich user experience and require the transfer of relatively large amounts of data in short periods of time (such as 'modern' web pages as you mentioned) are much faster on a 3G device than one that uses EDGE.

    If you've used 3G and found this not to be the case, then either there was a problem with the device you were using, the network you were connected too at the time, or the web page you were visiting.

    Mark.
     
  14. gceo macrumors 6502a

    gceo

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    #15
    My EDGE throughput is OK, but it does have latency issues.
     
  15. Pattycerts macrumors 6502

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    Jul 4, 2007
    #16
    Latency is apparent in both, but once the HSDPA gets rolling (I have yet to use a 3G phone without HSDPA) its awesome. You will not otice much on plain old web browsing, but YOUTUBE? Orb?

    The fact that anyone would dispute the benefits of 3G baffles me. I never use youtube on my phone because of the speed, quality, and risk of missed calls. 3 for 3 solved with 3G.
     
  16. taybo20 macrumors regular

    taybo20

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    Tempe
    #17
    I hope its because you can't afford it. Otherwise, you will hate going back to dial up. The above points don't apply as well when talking about the difference between cable and dial-up. Meaning, cable is waaaay faster than dial up. Even on a Pentium 3 machine or AMD K-2.

    Nice find bro!!;)
     
  17. gauchogolfer macrumors 603

    gauchogolfer

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    #18
    Someone's sarcasm detector is on the fritz.
     
  18. cdd543 macrumors 6502

    cdd543

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    Denver
    #19
    Also you rarely hear anyone mention the voice side of 3g... other than simultaneous dloading and voice..it isn't just about dload speed. 3g voice codecs are much better than edge and provide a better voice experience with improved noise cancellation.
     
  19. nickspohn macrumors 68040

    nickspohn

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2007
    #20
    I don't see how anyone can complain about EDGE speeds. The EDGE on my iPhone is pretty damn fast. Maybe not as fast as 3G, but still it gets the job done.
     
  20. EricBrian macrumors 6502a

    EricBrian

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    Jul 30, 2005
    #21
    [​IMG]
     
  21. gceo macrumors 6502a

    gceo

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    #22
    I love it when someone brings up something that isn't often mentioned. Kudos.
     
  22. eye.surgeon macrumors 6502

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    California
    #23
    MAYBE not as fast?? How about not even close. Acceptable for now though.
     
  23. eye.surgeon macrumors 6502

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    Jul 12, 2007
    Location:
    California
    #24
    No they won't. It's already been announced that they have the same radio as the NA iphones. They will get 3G when we get it here in NA.
     
  24. boss1 macrumors 6502a

    boss1

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    #25
    +1 for saying it like it should be told
     

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