September 25, 2012, 11:58 AM — LTE data speeds with the new LTE-ready iPhone 5 are many times faster than speeds over older 3G networks, according to delighted users, who praised the data speeds in interviews and in online forums.
One Verizon Wireless customer with a new iPhone 5 who lives northwest of Richmond, Va. reported in an online forum that he was getting LTE data download speeds of up 22.3Mbps -- and upload speeds of 11.1Mbps on Sunday.
"I ... was surprised to see those speeds in this area," said "Keirtt" on forums.imore.com. "Literally, I could throw a stone and hit rural Virginia, and yet I have great LTE."
It's too soon to judge whether there will be an LTE network crunch from the iPhone 5. Already, 5 million new iPhones have been sold, with many more on their way to customers. But there don't seem to be any major problems so far with LTE network support from the three major U.S. carriers.
"It's definitely a lot faster on LTE," Bryan Moore, lives in mostly rural Mt. Sidney, Va., said in a telephone interview. "It downloads things faster and uploads faster than before." Moore, a Verizon customer who bought a new iPhone 5 on Friday, said he's noticed the speed while using Twitter and Facebook and when streaming music over Pandora.
At his home, Moore said his Verizon network coverage constantly shifts from LTE to 3G and the related EDGE data network. When that happens, he's noticed a slight hiccup of less than a second when viewing a music video. Otherwise, it hasn't caused any real problems.
Faster data speeds mean that it's much easier to consume data, especially when viewing video and using FaceTime for video chats. That's a concern for Moore, who said he now plans to better track his data usage so he won't blow past his new monthly Share Everything 2GB data plan. Otherwise, he'll have to pay an overage charge.
Moore gave up an unlimited plan with Verizon to get the new iPhone 5, which he likes for its Siri turn-by-turn directions in Apple Maps and its larger 4-in. screen.
Using a Verizon app, he found out he'd already used 200MB of data in just four days. "I was surprised I had used that much," he said.
Analysts note that data speeds are highly dependent on how many LTE smartphones of all types are using a nearby cell tower, as well as a user's distance from the antenna. All of the major U.S. carriers have for months sold smartphones and tablets running Android that use LTE, so those will be competing with the iPhone 5 for wireless network capacity.