The LTE phone's overall average upload speed came in at 7.39 mbps, more than six times the upload speed of the second-place finisher, T-Mobile's Galaxy S 4G. With speeds like that, even high-bandwidth bidirectional apps such as video chat and online gaming perform as they do when hooked up with a fat broadband cable.
Network latency, or the time needed for a single packet of data to travel through the network, was also exceedingly low on the Verizon LTE network at 57 milliseconds, meaning that the network has very little congestion or bottlenecking at this time. Latency times of less than 100 milliseconds are ideal, while delays of more than 200 milliseconds can limit throughput and impair real-time services such as VoIP and videoconferencing.
In our January speed tests, we discovered that Verizon LTE USB modems, which the company had begun selling well in advance of its first LTE smartphone, were hitting download speeds and upload speeds that were twice as fast as T-Mobile and AT&T USB modems, and almost three times faster than Sprint's fastest 4G WiMax modem.
We knew the network was crazy-fast, but we were waiting to see whether the first LTE smartphones would reach the same high speeds. We predicted that they would, but we were only half right: The ThunderBolt, even with the hardware limitations of a compact smartphone, actually proved far faster than Verizon's LG 600 LTE modem in our tests.
Still, the ThunderBolt has been selling only since St. Patrick's Day, and Verizon's LTE modems have been on sale for less than four months. With the stunning 20-mbps-plus download speeds registering on the ThunderBolt, we can't help but wonder if the network is simply underutilized right now. Certainly the LTE network was engineered to support millions and millions of users; when the load on the network comes closer to capacity, we might see download speeds settle down to the 5-to-12-mbps levels that Verizon has told users to expect.
T-Mobile's Galaxy S Clocks 4G-Like Speeds
The Samsung Galaxy S 4G is the first phone to support T-Mobile's new HSPA 21 network technology, meaning that the handset is capable of reaching the 21 mbps of (theoretical) throughput speed that the T-Mobile network is built to deliver. This does not mean that the Galaxy S 4G should be expected to hit 21-mbps download speeds, but rather that it contains a radio and chipset capable of faster speeds than earlier T-Mobile phones achieved.