Before we dig deeper into the results, here's a bit about the way we tested. We hit the ground in five West Coast cities--Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas--and ran speed tests on each phone at ten or more locations. To measure the speeds of the Atrix, Galaxy S, and EVO Shift phones, we ran the FCC-approved Ookla testing app on the handsets. Since the Ookla app has a difficult time measuring LTE networks, we tethered Verizon's ThunderBolt to a laptop and then measured the connection speed at Speedtest.net, also operated by Ookla.
Moving rightward across the chart below (click for the enlarged version), you can see the speed averages and network latency times for each of the four smartphones. Speeds are expressed in megabits per second. Latency--or the time it takes a single small packet of data to travel to a network server and back--is represented in milliseconds.
ThunderBolt Appears, 4G Future Begins
In our recent 13-city speed tests, we declared T-Mobile the fastest in our smartphone-based tests. But that was before the arrival of Verizon's 4G LTE ThunderBolt. The phone clocked download speeds that were more than five times faster than T-Mobile's Galaxy S 4G, and about eleven (yes, eleven) times faster than AT&T's Atrix.
The ThunderBolt registered download speeds of less than 10 mbps in only 7 of our 52 testing locations. It produced 30-mbps-plus speeds in Century City and Silver Lake in Los Angeles, and hit peak speeds nearing 30 mbps in Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose.