iPhone 5 Has a Harder Time Retaining 4G LTE Signal Than Android Rivals

On a few AT&T iPhone 5 devices that I’ve seen throughout Northern and Southern California from friends who have ordered and received their latest Apple smartphone, it appears that the new device has a hard time hanging onto 4G LTE coverage on AT&T’s network. While Apple had touted a new chip that combined 2G/3G/4G LTE on a single chipset in a new design that helps the iPhone 5 conserve space, it’s unclear if that may be the reason why 4G LTE reception has been spotty on the new smartphone. In the same areas and under the same tests against 4G LTE Android devices on AT&T’s network, like the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X, it appears that the iPhone 5 has a more difficult time staying on 4G LTE coveragle the Android phones remained on LTE the whole time.

299370-apple-iphone-5Tests were done in San Francisco, California; San Jose, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Oakland, CA; and San Diego, CA and the results on 10 different iPhones were the same. It’s unclear at this early point if the results would be similar on Sprint’s and Verizon’s network, but at least on AT&T, the iPhone 5 constantly switched between 4G LTE, 4G HSPA+, 3G, and 2G EDGE connections. The tests were conducted in areas where AT&T has promoted 4G LTE coverage and the coverage is existent on Android devices.

Devices running the Android OS such as the Galaxy S III and the HTC One X did not exhibit the same behavior as the iPhone 5.

If you’ve had issues with maintaining a strong 4G LTE signal on the new iPhone 5, please chime in and let us know your experiences. In the meantime, you can see the speedtests that we’ve conducted between AT&T 4G LTE and Verizon 4G LTE in San Francisco, CA.

Comments

  1. Geri O says

    Exactly opposite experience here (MS). Chunked a Galaxy S3 and a Droid Razr Maxx (the latter of which I really liked and wanted to keep, but…). My new Verizon iPhone 5 gets solid 4G signals and in more places.
    Battery life seems to have fell back a notch or two, though.

    (Fanboy shields up – for both sides)

    Geri O

  2. Jeff says

    I am experiencing exactly what you have described in your post. I live in southeastern Massachusetts. An I have Verizon. My iPhone 5 has a hard time holding on to LTE and when it looses it, it doesn’t pick it back up very well either. But when I do have it speeds are 9 – 16

    • Sal says

      I have same issue verizon iPhone 5 I am so pissed. I’ve had an iPhone or ever. Ready for galaxy s iii

  3. Will says

    I am experiencing the same issue here in NYC with att it goes to 4g hspa+ and takes a while to get back on lte very disappointed

  4. Justin Davis says

    Here in Austin, if my AT&T ip5 looses LTE, I have to restart the network connection (use airplane mode vs. power down) to get it back. It’s very annoying. I haven’t had any expieriance with EDGE switching yet.

    • Wes says

      Exact same problem, same city. I’ll have 3-4 bars of LTE and no Internet. Not great when you monitor emails and have no idea when your net is down. Currently using 4g exclusively. What a joke, it’s so random.

  5. GrumpyCat says

    I brought up the iphone 5 benchmarks to a friend of mine at lunch today, proudly boasting about how it “smoked the competition”. Then my 4G signal went dead (though, showing all bars). We googled the same thing at the same time, his loaded in seconds…mine never loaded, ever.

    Halp?

  6. Stefanie says

    Have Sprint in Buffalo, NY…I forgot the iPhone 5 was supposed to have 4G cuz it hasn’t connected once since I got it. 3G and wifi work fine but no 4G…

  7. Terry says

    Here in Toronto Canada on Bell, there is very few spots to get LTE even though the coverage map goes everywhere around you.

  8. Dimitri says

    I had major service issues similar to this here in Atlanta. Service went from LTE to nothing in a matter of seconds similar to the antenna issue with the iPhone 4. Went to the apple store and he ran a diagnostic on the phone. Said the phone was fine, but some carriers need the antennas calibrated to the carriers network or something of the sort. He then went to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings. Phone immediately rebooted and has worked like a gem ever since. Steady 4-5 bar LTE service every time I look at the phone. I hope this works for you all too.

  9. Norwood says

    Here in Boston on AT&T the iPhone 5 is unable to maintain calls in areas where the 4 and 4S had no problems. Driving up Rte 495 with an iPhone 4S and 5 next to one another on average the 5 had about 1/2 the bars. On Rte 6 on Cape Cod the iPhone 5 will drop calls continuously between Exit 3 and the Sagamore Bridge while the 4s has no problems. For whatever reason the iPhone 5 seems to have signal issues in weaker areas where the 4 and 4s were able to overcome and maintain the call. Phone is great otherwise but the signal quality is lacking.

  10. R Wood says

    We don’t have LTE in our area in Southern Oregon, but we do have 4G with AT&T. I’ve noticed that when I’m in the very same area, sometimes I’ll be on 4G, and other times I’ll be on “E” (Edge/2G)…which is incredibly slow. I’ll have full signal, but be on “E”. I contacted AT&T, and they suggested I restart the phone when that happens, but I shouldn’t have to do that every time…isn’t this supposed to be the newest, best technology? I’m pretty frustrated, but can’t really do anything else about it. This never happened on my iPhone 4…was always on 3G when available. I love everything else about the 5, except the network signal issues.

    • Patrick says

      I have the same issue here in Central California. My phone loses the 4G and takes forever if at all to regain it.

  11. Gopi says

    I have same experience as mentioned in the post.. iPhone cannot hold on to 4G LTE on AT&T network. I m in Cheshire, Connecticut. Every time I restart the phone 4G comes back

  12. L G says

    I have AT&T. In Tennessee and Georgia I am experiencing the same issues you are describing. I hope a software fix will fix this. Thank you.

  13. Michael Hercliff says

    I have the Verizon iPhone 5 and I am having this exact issue. I’m assuming that since AT&T iPhone 5 users are having the same issue, this is an Apple hardware problem. I will go from full service 3G to full service LTE in the same building depending on when I pick up my phone. If the phone displays 3G, I go into network settings and turn cellular on and off continuously until LTE finally comes back on. That seems to be the only work around at this point.

  14. Doug M says

    I’m in Orlando and outside my office I have full strength LTE. When I walk into the building I drop to 2 bars (-110) and can barely hold on to LTE. Worse, the speeds drop lower than 3G. I get better speeds if I turn off LTE and switch to 4G at my desk instead of keeping on LTE. Anyone know if LTE is more susceptable to interference than 4G or 3G?

  15. Corey B says

    My phone is very spotty in Portland Oregon here. At times it will even say no service. where my old Ipohne 4 had service. I’ve been slowly realizing that the service that the 4g speeds have to offer are only convenient when I have a perfect connection. Otherwise I would almost prefer my old 3g connection

  16. Unhappy iPhone slappy! says

    Add Detroit to this list!!! I’m almost about to take back my iPhone 5 because, in addition to not hanging on to the signal, if I don’t get the LTE signal, I don’t have cell service no more. My iPhone does not fallback to the HSPA+ 4G or 3g or nothing! No LTE, no call-e! And for sure, it is spotty at best. I’ll watch a video, and unlike my 4G HSPA+ signal on my iPhone 4, it runs, then stops, runs then stops. I’m not to happy about this.

  17. Djnavda says

    I now understand why Apple didn’t raise the price on the iphone 5. With signal strength this poor, they should have made it cheaper! I am unhappy in Jacksonville, Florida.

  18. Sybil C says

    Here in northeast Pennsylvania I’ve spotty 4G reception drop to edge frequently, and have to power down and up to get back to 4G. My 5 is with AT&T. Hoping a reset fixes the problem or maybe a new phone?

    • pete says

      I have VZW in Massachusetts, but I have tried 3 iPhone 5s and a total of 3 Nano SIMS and all exhibit the same unacceptable reception compared to other LTE (and non-LTE) devices. I have cases open with both Apple and VZW. I suggest you open up a case w/ Apple per the instructions at the Apple forum link I posted below. I haven’t opened any cases w/ AT&T on the subject since I don’t own an AT&T iPhone 5.

  19. Don says

    Live in Dallas area LTE is good most of the time but not as good as my elevate hot spot. Both are ATT. LTE. BUT I did cAn verify and duplicate LTE service then every time I place a call it changes to 4G after I end the call LTE comes back n a few as seconds

    • Pete says

      Switching out of LTE mode may actually be fine during a call. Not sure about ATT, but on VZW, all phone calls will be made on 3G by design. The issue is when you’re not a call, the phone not locking a strong LTE signal and even when it has one, drops and slow performance (often more impacting upload speed than download)

  20. Rodrigo says

    Here in Connecticut I am experiencile weak signail. My older 4S has great signal while this new Iphone 5 keeps losing service completely. it goes from 2 bars to no service back and forth. What the heck? This phone sucks. I am thinking of returning it.

  21. Eric says

    Had iPhone 5 on VZW for 3 days. It has dropped 2/3 of my calls so far sitting in an office next to a window in a heavily populated area while on LTE. Apple declared it an LTE issue that “a lot of Verizon customers are complaining about.” She logged the issue and asked me to turn off LTE. Check out the Apple forums too: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4329076

  22. Ben says

    This is the first phone I’ve had on the Verizon network and I have great reception everywhere I go….except in my neighborhood. I checked the coverage map to see if I was possibly in a spotty area, however Im sack dab in the middle of a prime coverage area. I have 2 bars at best and the LTE signal frequently drops from LTE to the crappy 3G network. I haven’t had opportunity to really sit down and talk to Verizon since I got the phone last week but I definately will soon to see if this can be fixed. Im hoping the recent WI FI fix might miraculously fix this problem too.

  23. John M says

    PLEASE DO SEND THIS TO APPLE SO THAT THEY CAN FIX IT. IT MUST BE A FIRMWARE ISSUE SINCE THE SIGNAL SEEMS OK!

  24. John M says

    This proves that Tom Cooks just gives a crap about Wall Street!! This would have never happened with Steve Jobs, now that guy showed the world that Wall Street could kick his ass since money ALWAYS follows user experience, no the other way around (if anything, only very temporarily). How can we get Steve Back, It’s very sad:

    Check out remembering Steve a year after his death and go to http://www.apple.com. Nice work!!

  25. Praveen says

    I just switched to iPhone 5 and having the worst experience in making and receiving calls in Long Island and Manhattan on AT&T plan. This never happened with 4S. For the most part everything else is ok with 5 but what good a phone is if I cannot make or receive calls. LTE is supposed to be an improvement but it seems like it is worst then 2G. Even if I turn the LTE off it does not help.This is very annoying and AT&T must fix this problem.

  26. Devan Demita says

    I am with Telus in Canada and I am experiencing the same issues with my iPhone 5! But it’s not just having issues holding the LTE, it’s also completely dropping service and just sitting at “No Service”.

  27. Ken B says

    In Chicago on AT&T, I lose LTE often. I have to turn off LTE or Cellular connection to get it back.

  28. Charlie says

    I am in ny right outside the city and I am having the same problem I keep loosing 4G connection and it won’t even pick up the 3G to load the page Verizon blame apple and apple blame Verizon need to get this fixed

  29. John says

    Same issue. Apple and AT&T told me to toggle the airplane mode to make it reconnect to LTE. What a great solution for the “most advanced iPhone yet.”

  30. Andy says

    I’m on Verizon, my LTE goes on and doesn’t respond until I turn it off and go to 3G, then I can turn LTE back on and it works… Sometimes. I’ve changed my sim as Verizon suggested but no luck. I’m now waiting to see if there is a problem with Verizon or do they deem the phone disfunctional???? This is becoming very annoying to say the least!!!

  31. Barry Moss says

    I just got an iPhone5 this weekend and I’m finding it difficult to get any LTE coverage at all on Telus in the Greater Vancouver area. I had a 75 minute commute on a train from Mission to downtown Vancouver this morning and I got LTE for less than 5 minutes despite this being in a region showing full LTE coverage. Now I’m sitting in a downtown office building on the 21st floor. I get 5 bars 3G but can’t get LTE at all.

  32. Al says

    In the past week I have been to Phoenix and today I am in Jacksonville/Amelia Island are and I have intermittent LTE and 4G. I live in Atlanta and I noticed the problem since my travels outside of Atlanta

  33. Michele says

    Had no trouble w/ AT&T service w/ iPhone 4 w/ 3G — now w/ 4G on iPhone 5 I have spotty service – getting “no service” message intermittently and disrupting connection. :(
    (in San Jose/Santa Clara)

  34. Stan says

    My iPhone 5 on Verizon gets 40 Mbps when tested but looses 4g lte constantly. I used samsung charge last 2 years and it never used to loose lte and I use it both at same locations. Worse the hot spot shows lye but the connected device cannot even go on the Internet

  35. Chris Ronan says

    I live in Dallas, Texas and have had a lot of trouble with my new iphone 5 maintaining an LTE connection. When it is connected I can see download speeds up to 40 mbps but most of the time I see .4 mbps and still have around 4 bars and the “LTE” indicator on my phone. What’s strange is that I also have an ipad with LTE and it works flawlessly while my iphone 5 can be next to it and only run .4 mbps. Very frustrating. Tonight I had my 4th call with ATT. My gut feeling is that this is some strange hardware issue. Replaced my iphone 5 this morning at apple and it only worked at full speed for an hour then back to .4 mbps at the fastest. Two phones already. I love my iphone and was excited about the iphone 5 but I may be switching to Android or Windows Mobile tomorrow if this is not fixed.

  36. Monica says

    I have i5 and it is AT&T and it is very spotty. Live in Arizona and I only get 1-2 bars ever at the max. It sucks because a lot of times I get no bars. It’s almost slower than my 3GS that I traded it for so to say I’m disappointed is an understatement. If there is anyway to fix this please let us know how.

  37. Frank says

    I think it’s a network issue for ATT&T and VZW. I have had already several 4G LTE capable smartphones including Samsung, HTC, iPhone 5, LG and Motorola and ALL have the same problem: spotty LTE connectivity and a hard time picking it up again. Cities where I had this problem include Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Honolulu, Houston, Dallas, New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Atlanta, Charlotte, Portland, Vegas, Phoenix and New Orleans among some others . I have an unlimited data plan and I am starting to wonder if that has to do something with it. Maybe these companies try to discourage users like me to use excessive amounts of data throttling the connection constantly. On the other hand I heard people with different devices claiming that they have very stable connection. The whole connectivity issue is very inconsistent. I am about to send back my brand new Nexus with that gorgeous JB OS :( and try the other next best thing to see if finally it will work.

  38. Steve says

    In and around St. Louis, MO on AT&T I lose 4G and LTE all the time and often roll with no cellular data connection at all. General coverage seems OK as I am able to make and receive calls, but this device is obviously lacking something, somewhere.

  39. Mike says

    I’m in mississauga/oakville Ontario with Fido and am having this same issue with my new 5. Outside of my work the reception is ok and lte/3G works very well.

    HOWEVER, proof in my opinion that the reception strength is much worse is when I’m inside my workplace. Maybe it’s not fair because its a large building BUT I have been browsing the web, tethering to my laptop.. Occasionally playing online games.. Streaming live sports etc all on the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4s without an issue. With the 5 my 3G is GONE!! I can’t even check my email. My text messages almost always fail. I can’t send a picture message. If I load YouTube I can’t even play a video. I placed a friends iphone 4 beside my phone and while mine barely hits 3G (1 bar) and stays on edge (2-3 bars) his iphone is at 2-3 bars 3G at all times.

    I’ve had the 5 for a week and its already for sale. Moving back to an ipjone 4s until the 5s comes out with a fixed antenna. I pretty much guarantee it!!

  40. Cheri says

    I live in South Florida and my iPhone 5 has issues with detecting and keeping 3G or 4G connectivity. It does work perfectly while on WiFi though.

  41. Veterantraveler says

    I’m in Chicago. I get about 30-40% less coverage overall now compared to my 4S.
    Angry that I switched.

  42. Aim says

    I’m in Iowa and my iPhone 5 for AT&T SUCKS. I’ve had blackberrys and upgraded to the 5. Wish i didn’t. My battery doesn’t last a whole day. (Nothing is running either). I get no service or “E” more then I do wifi or 4G.

  43. Martin Hazard says

    I have the 5 on Sprint in Chicago. Until a couple weeks ago there was NO Sprint 4G anywhere in the city. Now they have their LTE up in most places. Where it is not the 3g has been reduced to being useless, if it gives you a data connection at all. Calls seen to be OK though. I have noticed that the 5 looses LTE signal frequently, and takes awhile to re acquire it. I have compared a Motorola Photon side by side with the 5 as far as LTE signal goes (both on Sprint), and lets just say it was disappointing. One other trick not mentioned here that at least works on the Sprint network is to dial ##873283# (##update#), then hit dial. It updates the network connection or something.

  44. Angela Braeutigam says

    I just am now having issues with my iPhone5 (AT&T) LTE being on. It was recently going out saying I have “No Service” to randomly having 4G. This kept happening so I turned off my LTE and this issue is no longer happening. Until this is resolved, I will keep it off.

  45. LA Harrison says

    I just bought the iPhone 5, and it LTE holds better and longer on the phone than my Samsung Galaxy S3 and Razr. Actually, I am surprised. I have had no issues with my phone what so ever. I honestly just got the phone to try it out for the 2 weeks and take it back. But after needing a phone that holds good signal for calls and texting, the iPhone is replacing all my Androids.

  46. Ted r says

    I’m having the same issue as posted except I’m located in northern indiana….my iphone 5 is having an extremely hard time maintaining 4g LTE and 4g hspa+ especially. I love my iPhone’s but this crap is uncalled for and yet again apple is proving its all about income with them and not listening nor caring about its customers. That droid razr maxx is looking better everyday….

  47. mitchell says

    new iphone 5 in L.A. has issues with LTE & WiFi. When I turn LTE off WiFi works perfect.

  48. Kate says

    Yeah, I’m on the phone with Apple right now and a senior adviser is being consulted about this. I’ve already restored my former 5, set it up as new, same problem. They switched out the phone and the new phone is having the same issue. Argh. I have a feeling it’s a software or firmware issue and not a hardware issue. That’d be a shame if it was a hardware issue. But it’s been toggling back and forth between 4G and LTE and then it’ll just drop my cellular data off altogether.

  49. Dave Marris says

    Yes, mega problem with 4G, LTE and 3G here in Denver. We are on AT&T and it is to the point where I am so frustrated by this that I want my iPhone 4 back. I stream Pandora on my iPhone to and from work and my 4 never had a problem. My 5 has now turned into this constant battle with Pandora dropping along with Siri, voicemails etc. I am livid about this as it almost defeats the purpose of having this phone that is supposed to take advantage of the network features they sell in their advertisements. Those features, from my experience have been lackluster. I do love my iPhone, and want to resolve this but it has been a struggle. Just this morning I conducted a test with my wife’s cell phone next to mine. She has a 4, I have a 5. While sitting in our house, she is on 3G just fine with access to internet, facebook, pandora, etc. My phone, right next to hers will not connect to any of those. There are no settings to turn on or off 4G or 3G like there is on her 4. I will be going to my Apple Store and asking them to either fix the problem or give me a new phone. I cannot see how this can be a AT&T network error if my wife’s phone connects just fine. I do not care what network it is (3G, 4G, LTE) I just want my old way of life back!

    • Dave Marris says

      Another thing I wanted to Add- I tried the toggle thing between Airplane mode, rebooting my phone and turning on and off the LTE and celluar data in settings and none of that would fix the problem in certain areas during my commute. It did fix the problem as I sit here at my house, but not when I am moving in a car. This was never a problem until I got my 5….

      • GmailMan says

        My wife has experienced the same problems in Metro Denver. She is losing business when her Square payment app won’t work. The AT&T billboards are all over the place boasting about their 4G coverage in Denver; too bad it is a lie.

  50. Anonymous says

    I have sprint unlimited data on the iphone and its horrible in san jose. Dont buy. Trust it. Stays on 3g and only peeks into 4g for small bursts as if the data connection is being beamed from outer space…….

    SPRINT STEP YOURE GAME

  51. artwerkes says

    AT&T LTE coverage is a joke in Denver. It’s fast IF it works, big if and for how long. However, it is constantly cutting out and when doing so cuts all internet connectivity! Not so good. It can even drop calls as I experienced today while driving. (Too bad Siri is useless without an internet connection, unlike the former voice control which I tried to use to redial my dropped call. I like to be as handsfree driving as possible in a non-BT car (a fix Apple?). So I finally called AT&T to get some answers. The foreign sounding man just read a script saying I need to be upgraded since that was not done when I got the phone. Well they said I was toast on my unlimited plan. He said he would upgrade me to LTE service but it won’t change anything. What does that mean? He said my cost would not change and I had seen some LTE speeds. He could not tell me anything other than it was necessary. Well I guess it happened (the update). So next I called my best tech friend who has an iPhone5 to seek further answers. When I called, my phone had LTE showing and during the call with him it “left”. This was all while at my home (central Denver-C.Creek) and something it’s been constantly doing of late (1 bar, 5 bars, 2 bars, 5 bars, 1 bar, 4 bars… all on the same call, yes this is voice service and then no data icon either). Even after disabling the LTE while talking to him I could not connect to the internet as I could with my iphone4 – probably should have upgraded to Verizon at least then I know I can’t have data and talk (I turned off the connection to my home wifi as I to check the AT&T service). He had no answers but a similar experiences with the same answers and solutions others have expressed on the web. I too have used those solutions (not yet a replacement phone though, had the 5 now just 2 weeks) but finally I am ranting as this “new constant” is pathetic! Maybe I’ve been spoiled but as an Apple and iPhone user from the original iPhone this is a sad state of affairs given both Apple’s & AT&T’s marketing hype (a bit false given the reliability and usage area). Unrelated perhaps, but I do notice 5′s battery goes down much more without use than my 2.5 year old iPhone 4 did. The settings are the same to minimize battery drain, other than LTE which a 4 could not do. And I’m not even a heavy user. Perhaps it is the constant switching between LTE and the slower networks when at rest. Tonight I have given up on LTE in Denver. Hope this give some other person solace in knowing you are not alone.

  52. B. Gianmugnai says

    I own an iphone 5. I rarely get LTE or even 4G. I’m beginning to think its not the phone but the service provider. There is a group of 10 us all with either i4 or i5 iphones. Only 2 of us have Verizon. Most of the others have At&T and 1 has Sprint. When comparing phones every phone that is not serviced by Verizon out performs the 2 iphones that are serviced by Verizon Most of the times I operate on 1 or 2 bars while non verizon users have a full 4-5 bars. My data rarely reads 3G let alone LTE or 4G. More often than not Siri can’t be accessed. I’m amazed what my friends can do with their iphones. I wasn’t impressed at all with my iphone but when I realized what my friends were able to do with their phones I stopped blaming the phone. I live in a suburban area with cell towers all around so one would think reception wouldn’t be a problem. i frequently drop calls depending upon my location and in my home my phone constantly breaks up. I’ve thought about buying and installing a booster in my home but its expensive and doesn’t solve the problem of poor reception outside the home. I’m thinking that my cheapest solution is to buy out my contract and sign with another provider.

  53. Pete says

    Hi Guys,

    I was one of the first lining up to tell you that the iPhone 5 had a problem holding a LTE signal, but after months and months of investigation, I can tell you that my problem was actually VZW’s terrible LTE service throughout Metro Boston and not my iPhone. While I don’t doubt there are probably defective iPhone’s out there, I proved through hours of testing on other LTE phones (i.e. GS3/etc at that time), that the problem was my carrier and not my phone. On the other hand, in my specific area, AT&T had much stronger LTE coverage and when I did lock on LTE, their DL/UL speeds were significantly faster.

    Now my experience with AT&T in Metro Boston may not be the same as some other city, I can tell you that in Metro Boston and when I was in NYC, there was no comparison, AT&T was lightyears better both in terms of LTE signal strength and data speeds once a LTE signal was locked. The other issue is that due to the legacy technology on the VZ network, it takes much longer for it to lock back to LTE if it ever goes away than it does on AT&T.

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