Despite being branded as 4G Android smartphones for AT&T’s HSPA+ network–the carrier will be migrating to LTE for 4G in the latter half of this year–the HTC Inpire 4G and Atrix 4G had failed to ‘inspire’ us with slow upload speeds.
Whereas the iPhone 4, a 3G-branded handset, was able to garner upload speeds in excess of 1 Mbps, upload speeds on the HTC Inspire 4G and Motorola Atrix 4G hovered in the area of 300 Kbps. AT&T’s vague response seems to indicate that the carrier is aware of the problems with their 4G smartphones and is preparing an update: “As you noticed, we have a number of HSUPA devices today and we will have more HSUPA-enabled devices in the future—new devices and updates to existing models.”
HSPA+ on AT&T is supposed to provide a theoretical maximum download speed of 14.4 Mbps, compared to the iPhone 4’s 7.2 Mbps modem. Upload speeds are usually slower than download speeds, but the incredibly slow upload speeds on 4G devices suggest that there may be a problem with the phone not being able to communicate with the network. According to Engadget, the problem is due to AT&T requiring these 4G devices to authenticate with the carrier’s network using an old protocol stack that doesn’t include the protocol for HSUPA, or high speed upload. A software update should theoretically resolve this issue as the hardware on both phones support faster upload speeds than the 300 Kbps clocked by many users, myself included.
While the slower upload speeds isn’t a problem for many users, it becomes a burden when trying to upload multimedia content. With capable cameras, users will be bogged down when trying to upload a captured video to YouTube or a photo to Flickr, for example. In regular YouTube video watching and Web browsing, download speeds were fine so users who just consume content would not have much to worry about.