iPhone 4S vs Droid Bionic 4G LTE Speed Test (video)

The iPhone 4S is the best iPhone money can buy, but it can’t keep up with the latest Android phones that run on speedy 4G networks. You may want to look beyond the iPhone 4S if uploading, downloading and streaming content as quickly as possible is your top priority.

Apple’s iPhone 4S runs on AT&T’s, Sprint’s and Verizon’s 3G networks, which have wide coverage areas, but run at a fraction of the speed of faster networks, such as Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

We’re in the process of comparing the iPhone 4S across carriers in the San Francisco Bay Area. So far, AT&T has the speediest download and upload speeds of the three iPhone 4S carriers in several locations. While the AT&T iPhone 4S is several times faster the Verizon and Sprint iPhones in many locations, it doesn’t come close to 4G LTE.

After running a comparison on video of each of the iPhone 4S models, I ran the same Speedtest.net test on the Droid Bionic and compared it to AT&T’s 3G speeds. It’s really no contest, with the Droid Bionic downloading content more than three times faster than the fastest iPhone 4S. I ran this test at the same Starbucks in San Francisco as when I compared the three iPhone 4S models to each other.

Here are the results of the two Speedtest.net runs on each phone:

Speedtest.net #1

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  •  iPhone 4S, AT&T 3G: 3.15 Mbps download, 1.14 Mbps upload
  • Droid Bionic, Verizon 4G LTE – 11.56 Mbps download, 5.56 Mbps upload

Speedtest.net #2

  • iPhone 4S, AT&T 3G: 3.50 Mbps down, 1.12 Mbps upload
  • Droid Bionic, Verizon 4G LTE: 12.30 Mbps download 5.54 Mbps upload

So why doesn’t the iPhone 4S have 4G built in? There are likely a number of reasons, but the one that’s likely at top of Apple’s list is that it takes a lot of juice to run on 4G. One problem we continue to see from Verizon’s 4G LTE phones is that their batteries drain too quickly. Another major issue is that 4G doesn’t reach a lot of consumers in the U.S., which means users wouldn’t be able to realize an iPhone 4G’s full potential if they lived in the wrong zip code.

Depending on where you live, at least one of the three iPhone 4S carriers should be able to provide enough 3G speed to accomplish what most people need to get down via a mobile Internet connection. But for some users, 4G should be a top priority. Those who often need to upload large files on the go or who plan on using their smartphones as a mobile hotspots should take a close look at the latest 4G phones, such as the Droid Bionic, Galaxy SII, Galaxy Nexus and Droid RAZR.

If you’re hoping to use your phone’s mobile hotspot feature, you may be disappointed with 3G speeds. A solid 4G LTE signal can provide speeds that exceed those of many wired home Internet connections.

If you love the iPhone and iOS 5 you’ll have to put up with 3G speeds for now. Buying a new smartphone is an incredibly personal decision and you’ll have to compromise to some degree. Unfortunately, one of the compromises iPhone 4S customers will have to put up with is relatively slow mobile Internet speeds.

You can read our full iPhone 4S review here.

  

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Got a new personal speedtest record on my Bionic yesterday outside my office building here in Honolulu. 42Mbps dl 5Mbps up. I average about 15Mbps at my house. This thing is making 3g seem like dial-up to me.

    • Drew Nusser says

      That’s not the point.  He’s just showing that the being by far fastest iPhone doesn’t translate to being by far the fastest phone.

      • Ambigbodyford says

        What good is speed if reliability isn’t there?? We all know that the platform of the smart phone originated from apple with precision tuning which is a direct reflection of the iPhone flawless operation. I own an iPhone and the Galaxy S2 and u must day that stability goes to the iPhone hands down……..

        • Drew Nusser says

          My phone has rebooted itself twice in the last 3-4 months that I’ve had it, which is much less often than my previous 2 iPhones that I owned.  Of course, reliability can go to the iPhone if you ignore the battery issues, audio issues, and plethora of others that have surfaced with the 4s.  Oh, and my buddy (who was originally pretty proud of his 4s) has a strange problem with his phone rebooting itself EVERY time he tries to make a speakerphone call.  Have you heard of any issue like these with the S2?  Probably not.  How is your S2 less reliable than this?

    • honkj says

      even then it appears he avoided HSPA…   so in reality he compared 4G to 3G….  uhh,  thanks for letting us know the 4G network was faster than a 3G network?????

      geesh….    the problem is that the person there in the starbucks with the LTE handset,  no matter what the phone,  or the network,  wouldn’t have been able to stay in the starbucks for very long because he once again forgot his charger and his 3 batteries he needs to actually run on an LTE network,  and that is when he can find a signal…..

      LTE is not ready for prime time,   when will it be ready?   when the radio chips that do not exist yet are available that gives you performance AND battery life….. and the antenna’s are placed in more than like 1% of the country,  to make the LTE network viable..

      right now you have to be standing on your head in a starbucks next to an antenna in the middle of some city to get LTE….   great…  just what Apple was after in a smartphone…

      the reason there is no LTE iPhone, is because there is no LTE….

      you’ll know when LTE has some infill,  is when you don’t have to carry around 3 batteries,  and not have to stand on your head to get it…

      just in case someone wants to see how bad LTE coverage is:    the dark spots are LTE, and Verizon is being…. rather optimistic with those dark spots…

      https://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/CoverageLocatorController?requesttype=NEWREQUEST&coveragetype=datacoverage4g

      • honkj says

        by the way,  about 1/2 of all Americans live west of the mississippi,   NOW look at that coverage map again that i linked to….

        you’d have to be “challenged” to want an LTE phone if you lived and worked by traveling in that 3/4′s of the US,  hey on the bright side,  you wouldn’t need the 18 extra batteries,  since YOU COULDN’T FIND AND LTE NETWORK ANYWAY……(of course you’ll forget to turn your LTE off and need them anyway…)  

        • Jrock2610 says

          hey  for real  3g   is nothing   once u been on  verizon 4g lte   i actually    hit on avg  of  38 mbps  download and 14 upload  soo    if want  me prove it  ill post them on droid forums  were all true  droid fans stay   soo good luck on ur   3g 

        • Mustangdude86 says

          i get 4g signal at work. and use my bionic as a hotspot. it can go more than half the day tethered without needing plugged in. and with only 0 to1 bar of signal (in a steel building) i get 7-8mbs. While I agree that the 4G lte chips are no where NEAR optimal, it seems that motorola is doing better than at least HTC. The t-bolt was garbage. Since I do all my tethering at home or in the office…battery life doesn’t really concern me as an outlet is close by. During normal use outside of tethering the battery lasts fine. I can only imagine what it’ll be like when I get my extended battery. LTE is still new…and with all new technology comes trial and error and bugs to be worked out. It’s a real shame you’re giving it such a bad rap.

        • Drew Nusser says

          If you haven’t experienced LTE speeds then yeah, you can dwell on the negatives.  However, if you’ve compared 3g and 4g web browsing, it would even be hard for a negative Nancy like yourself to go back.  And how about this – instead of constantly using LTE, how about seeing it as an option that you can switch on if you want a speed boost for browsing, streaming, or playing games?  That way you get the boost when you want it, but your phone still easily lasts well into the 2nd day.  Also, I know that Apple is against LTE, but why not give HSPA+ a shot?  My sister consistently gets 10-12 mbps down with her SGS2 on T-Mobile, and her phone easily lasts 2 days.  Step out of the dark, honk.  The light out here is very welcoming.

  2. Ronin says

    I wonder what percentage of the US population prioritizes upload/download speed when choosing a smartphone. Probably less than double digit percentage. That’s why the iPhone is selling very well.

    • John Destacamento says

      Honestly I believe people that have experienced 4G speed it becomes a high priority. Consumers that continue to stay in 3G, well… perhaps a few of them are in denial saying they don’t need it.   I would have bought an iPhone 4S if it had a bigger screen and Verizon LTE 4G, unfortunately it didn’t happen.  I went with the Droid Bionic but I own an iPod Touch with the new IOS 5 and previously owned an iPad 2, so I’m well aware of Apple products and I’m not a hater.

    • Anonymous says

      I wonder how many of the millions of Netflix users in the US prefer higher quality streaming videos? I wonder how many iPhone users wished they had the bandwith to use facetime or video skype without a wifi signal? I wonder how many people would be interested in uploading HD videos to youtube or facebook without Wifi? I wonder why anyone would want to stream anything like a sports event live to watch? I wonder how many people would even bother to stream TV through DirectTV or Dish, Cox, Fios, to their device? That must be a small group right?  But I suppose you are right, none of these things are important to people when buying a smartphone. Apple will have a 4G device eventually, in the meantime, don’t make yourself look ignorant thinking speed isn’t important.

      • Eric T. says

        Speed is important.  There is no question that being able to do the things you mentioned are a fantastic part of owning a smartphone.  I have owned an HTC EVO and a Moto Photon and live in the Baltimore/Washington area.  This location is great for 4G and it is certainly funtional.  That said one must take into account the lack of funtionality that 4G brings to current phones.  Yes I loved to stream Netflix to my Phonton and EVO but I better be watching an episode of Family Guy becasue I sure am not making it through a 2 hour movie.  I just bought an IPhone 4s.  My first IPhone and I love it.  With so many locations that now offer Wi Fi I have no problem enjoying the things I like.  For me, if my Facebook post or video uploads take a little extra longer; I can wait.  I love the overall integration and experience the IPhone offers.  You are correct; Apple will certainly release a 4G LTE phone because they will have figured out how to use it and still make the phone practical.  Don’t get me wrong I loved my Android phones; I just have had my Iphone now for 4 days and I enjoy the overall experience better.

      • Anonymous says

        I wonder how many people could actually do those things and stay under their 2gb data cap? Thankfully LTE’s terrible battery life helps keep you in check.

        • Mustangdude86 says

          I am fortunate enough to be one of the lucky one’s who has no cap. The old data plan of unlimited for $30 bucks is still on mine and I’m told will never be changed if I don’t remove it. It is quite a shame that it’s not the standard, and that the caps cost so much now. :/

    • Frank Bevalaqua says

      Samsung now sells more smart phones than Apple.  And that is only one brand.  Overall Android phones are outselling Apple 2 to 1 now, so obviously people are catching on.

      • Jakerocksalo says

        You my good friend, are sadly mistaken… Samsung has SHIPPED more phones than apple has SOLD. As for how many phones Samsung actually SOLD, well thats a mystery.

      • BraveDave says

        2 to 1…that’s incredible statistics for Apple!  Acer, HTC, LG Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericcson, and other less knowns all make Android Phones…Only Apple makes, iPhones.  If I manufactured any product and in a market 5+ competitors and could sell 1 for every 2 they sold combined, that would amazing.  

    • Drew Nusser says

      However, now fast-forward to next year when iPhone 5 has LTE, and Apple will market it like its the best thing since sliced bread, and all of their followers will be killing each other to be the first to get it.  Not trying to offend anyone, that’s just how it goes.

    • H Dantoine says

      Well I think you are completely wrong. Do you know why people buy smartphones? Because they are SMARTphones, they can do most of the stuff a computer can do. I don’t think they buy them just to make calls and text. Because there would be no point and you could just buy a much cheaper normal phone. So speed obviously matters when getting a smartphone when speed affects everything a smartphone does that a normal phone doesn’t do. You 4G LTE hater…

  3. LeoDB says

    no-one gets a phone  just because of its speed, if that was the case then we would all be walking around with laptops in our pockets lol this test therefore does have a point but isn’t entirely relevant. Next thing, you are right, well done for being one of the first to write a fair comparison at last, even though 4g is faster i’m going to stick with getting an iphone, mainly for other reasons. eg. usability and performance on or of internet. i’m not an android hater, just prefer apple…

  4. Flintchesthair says

    My 4s is averaging 7md down 2 up here in Maryland. Thats fast enough for anything I do, and I don’t have to deal with lte battery life.

  5. Greekboy says

    Check out greekthuglife69 on YouTube see how Verizon treat their workers u already know how they treat u

  6. John Hupp says

    12 megabits per second is quite slow for LTE. LTE supports up to 300 megabits per second, just not on Verizon. And the iPhone 4S supports up 14.4 megabits per second… in Australia… but not the US. So the moral of the story is that AT&T is slow, not that the iPhone is slow.

    • Cp2_4eva says

      Exactly, this test isn’t even accurate. On a good 4G connection my bionic get 20+ megabits per second. Like you said 12 is slow, but still considerably faster than the Apple phone or any phone on AT&T in general. I was on AT&T two months ago with an Iphone 4 then the infuse. The infuse and the Atrix I think are better than iphones. And I’ve been an iphone user since it’s initial release back in like 2007 was it? 

  7. Ronny Hawks says

    how about doing a sprint iphone 4s on 4g and see what the results are. i pull 11+ download an 5 upload on my evo 4g INSIDE MY HOUSE (St. Paul, MN) oh and dont forget i pay half as much as verizon customers every month, get better signal everywhere, and get better customer service when i need it!

  8. Triplec92 says

    My iphone 4s running on at&t’s hspa+ gets a max of 8mbs down and an average of 4mbs down and a max of 2-3 up. The slowest speeds i ever get on my 4s are 1mbs. Shure its not lte 14mbs+ but it is fast enough to stream music while driving in the car and watch videos on the go. The at&t hspa+ in detroit is great. However when going from an iphone 4 to a 4′s the speeds are almost the same. On my iphone at&t iphone 4 i got a max of 6mbs down and 1mbs up. They say the iphone 4s can get up to 14 mbs which i doubt but who knows. at&t is for sure the fastest 3g or rather 3.5g the problem with Verizon is if u go out of the limited 4g lte the speeds drop down to a 1mbs or less. U will have a hard time doing multi media. I would go with an lte android phone but the interface and fragmented strategy of the android os and the many different handsets and os firmware versions stop me cold. I picked up an android lte in verizon and tested it but when i went to go download my favorite apps i couldn’t find them. I knew they were available in the android market. The problem is that the software developers have to write the software to run on hundreds of phones and many different os versions. this results in some apps only working on some phones. With ios it just works and u can be assured there will never be 100 different ios versions or phones. I will just hold out for a at&t lte iphone in the future with its crazy fast network clocked in at 42 mbs down on a 4g laptop stick

  9. Anonymous says

    Well, I would like the iPhone 4S. The iOS 5′s new feature iCloud and iMessenge really attracted me.
    And I have already got aneesoft video converter and many other apps for it. 

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  10. Gpittel says

    These are all great points… The truth of the matter is the iPhone will always be the best, most fluent os hands down. The iPhone 4s is absolutely amazing. But you guys are right.. Verizon’s lte is fast as hell.. So that’s it at the moment. It’s at a crossroad because AT&T’ lte isnt out yet. Wich its supposed to be ready I’m November I believe. The iPhone is the best device hands down. But Verizon’s network is the best hands down.. At the moment. So idk. I just hope AT&T gets its lte out soon.. Or Verizon getting a lte iPhone. That would be the shit!!!

  11. CJ says

    I don’t think it helps that in the demo the iPhone is almost ready to die… 2% battery life. Interesting that the driod almost had full battery life. I am not saying it is going to make a huge difference. The 4G network is going to be faster. The question I pose is, who is not on WiFi most of the day? Unless you live in a rural area that does not have WiFi every block… rural areas won’t have 4G anyways. It is hard to say they will even have power :-P

  12. Fabiantrujillo13 says

    Now that its a new year I must write my thoughts. I use to want an iPhone. I love the idea of it. The design the capabilities everything. But then I got my hand on the DROID RAZR with its 4G capabilities and I love it. Not only the 4G but everything this phone can do. Stream music movies and documents from your computer using motocast is just brilliant. So I’m saying that the first part of this paragraph is false. the DROID RAZR is the best phone money can buy. Bigger screen, 4G, and streaming media from your computer (which means less memory usage on your phone!)

  13. Chris says

    So one thing I’m wondering…. was the virus software running on the droid during the speed test? Would hate for you to get a Virus on your Droid. :) So your 4g downloads faster but how efficient is the phone at processing that information?

    • Dredge says

      Actually it probably was. I mean 12mbps over 4g is great but in Colorado Springs my bionic pulls an easy 20+ mbps.

      Secondly android is very efficient at processing as it has true multitasking. Read up on droud vs iphone multitasking before flapping your silly fingers.

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