How awesomely fast will the 3G iPhone be? Well, it turns out… not so much - Macenstein

How awesomely fast will the 3G iPhone be? Well, it turns out… not so much

Since the day the iPhone was first announced there has been rampant internet bitching by a myriad of internet bitchers all blasting the iPhone for its lack of 3G support. AT&T’s EDGE network has been condemned for its too-slow-to-use speed, and pretty much the entire interweb has adopted the mantra that EDGE blows and 3G will REALLY kick the iPhone into sales overdrive.

Well, MacRumors has found the above a video of a comparison made between the current EDGE-enabled iPhone, and a simulated 3G iPhone made by sharing an iMac’s 3G internet connection with an iPhone. The results? 3G is just under twice as fast as EDGE.

Hmmm… So, is that really that great? For months now I have been hearing 3G will bring “broadband speeds” to the iPhone. This seems more like the jump from a 28.8 kbs modem to a 56 kbs modem – nothing that will dramatically change the way I surf the web on the iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, if you told me the next MacBook was going to be TWICE as fast as the current one, I would certainly think it was a worthy upgrade, and I am not saying I won’t upgrade my EDGE iPhone to a 3G model when they come out, but these speeds seem somewhat disappointing. Sure, I am still hungry for the 3G iPhone, but I certainly am not in the “openly salivating” mode I was in originally. I actually have said from day one that I am pretty impressed with EDGE’s speed – YouTube videos play after about 5 seconds, web pages load decently fast, and mail is not a problem.

This video (if accurate) brings me back to my question of whether AT&T will attempt to charge more for the data plan of a 3G iPhone, and more importantly, will consumers pay more for it? Even before seeing that video I was leaning heavily towards the “No” camp, and now I am more or less definite. While I like the convenience of being able to surf the web while stuck in a line or waiting room, I still do 98% of my internet browsing on a computer with a fast connection and a real screen/keyboard. To me the bigger selling point might be if the processor inside the iPhone 2.0 is faster than the current one, as I find the slight interface delays more annoying than waiting for a web page to load via EDGE – plus it might increase page rendering speeds almost as much as the 3G bump itself (and maybe drain the battery as much too).

What are your thoughts? Will 3G make that big a difference? If 3G speed is the only difference between the current iPhone and the next Gen, would you still plunk down $399 to upgrade?

19 Responses to “How awesomely fast will the 3G iPhone be? Well, it turns out… not so much”
  1. Brian says:

    “What are your thoughts? Will 3G make that big a difference? If 3G speed is the only difference between the current iPhone and the next Gen, would you still plunk down $399 to upgrade?”

    After seeing this video I am not as excited as I once was for the 3G. I would still pay the $399 for the speed upgrade. Even though that is not the case, given all the rumors circulating that there will be other new things about the iPhone.

    Luckily I won’t be paying a dime for the 3G iPhone. 🙂

  2. SirCrumpet says:

    For what its worth, with 3G here in Australia, using my current phone I seem to average around a 512kbs connection.

    Of course how fast the phone renders pages would also play a role so results on the iPhone may be completely different.

  3. Jonro says:

    I suppose that if you buy a 3G phone, you can still use Edge if you don’t want to use 3G or if 3G isn’t available wherever you might be at the moment. I’m more interested in the new phone for true GPS and video chats, if those turn out to be included features.

    I’m getting a little tired of the frenzied speculation about the new iPhone. We’re all just spinning our wheels. If this keeps up, the new phone won’t be able to live up to anyone’s expectations.

  4. David says:

    Almost twice as fast isn’t a significant jump? Really? Are you serious?

    If my MBP processed twice as fast I’d be pretty happy. Hell, if I worked twice as fast that’d be pretty cool too. If the plane flew twice as fast I could get to Taipei in 6 hours instead of twelve…

    Haven’t you ever been trying to get some information (phone number, address…) before the subway goes under ground? Multiply this out to multiple page views a day and 16 seconds compared to 30 seconds makes a big difference.

    If it were only 2 or 4 seconds faster, it would make it hard to justify a new purchase or even production… but this is significant.

  5. David,
    I am absolutely serious. But then I admit I have not rushed to get a phone number before my train went underground, nor have I needed to pull up specs on how to diffuse a bomb with time running out on my iPhone.

    I think your scenario is unusual. All I am saying is the amount of real-world web browsing I do on the iPhone is rarely done in time-sensitive situations where every second counts. It is more often than not “OK, well, let’s kill some time while I wait for this movie to start” kind of things. And honestly, if a page takes 30 seconds to load, my experience is the content is readable at 10-15, and you are only waiting for ads beyond that. EDGE isn’t a speed demon, but I did not see anything in that video that made me think I will feel like a tool for sticking with my current iPhone if the monthly 3G service should cost any more than the current data plan.

    -The Doc

  6. Sean says:

    If 3G is fast enough, the true killer-app is going to be streaming music (video, etc) to your iPhone from your home server. (Or from your friend’s server. Or from a whole network of shared computers.) Imagine: a portable music player with 300gb (or more) of storage! Simplify Media and others already have apps with this functionality. EDGE isn’t fast enough to stream high quality audio. 3G . . . maybe.


  7. Constable Odo says:

    The only expectations the 3G iPhone won’t live up to is Wall Street and certain investor’s expectations. The majority of people who own iPhones are very satisfied. The 3G iPhone will have so much more to offer than the 2.5G version. I also think it’s bad that there is so much speculation about the iPhone’s features, but this can’t be helped.

    If this new phone was a BlackBerry, hardly anyone would give a crap and so when it was announced WS and RIM investors would cheer and boost the stock price up. Not so with Apple. Every day there is more and more false rumors, FUD and raised expectations that nobody can realistically expect all these things from one (maybe two…another rumor) iPhone.

    As a long investor, I realize if this new model doesn’t have certain features then probably the next model will. We’ll be going into the second year of the iPhone and it will probably surpass all those multi-year matured smartphones from every other smartphone manufacturer and that is really something special. And Apple isn’t even considered a cellphone company. Any fool should realize what the iPhone has accomplished in such a short time. But no. But some of those stupid-ass WS analysts sit on their asses and probably never used an iPhone and start trash-talking about missing features and unlocked, no-deferred revenue iPhones. This year, the 3G iPhone should shut their mouths once and for all.

  8. ma77 says:

    well the point is not that the speed is doubling as is it fast enough to warrant the 400 bux.
    going from 28.8 to 56 is twice the speed, but it’s still pitifully slow compared to wifi.

  9. Mitch says:

    2x the speed is significant, very significant.

    If 3G is the only difference between v2 and the existing iPhone then I would really have to consider dropping $400 for it. However, I think there will be other differences.

    I would definitely drop $400 for V2 iphone if it had 3G, 16GB (or more) and had the form factor of the iPod touch. Whether it is V2 or later, there will be a faster CPU more RAM, improved chipsets, better batteries, etc. I look forward to giving Apple my $$$ for new and exciting versions of the iPhone.

  10. TC says:

    Something that should probably be kept in mind, is that with cell phones, or cellular modems, the location can make a big difference in speed. I know with my verizon phone, if I am in a rural area, I get MUCH slower speeds than I do in a major city. Many towers have not been upgraded to the newer technology but the phone can still use the older, slower signals.

  11. Stef says:

    I’ve used both EDGE and UMTS/HSDPA while travelling around Italy and from experience found that 3G definitely improved everyday browsing. As your attention is held while waiting for the page to download, any reduction load-time is significant, much in the same way that a ‘snappier’, more responsive user interface improves things. However, I’m not convinced that a 3G iPhone will support the faster HSDPA rates; we’ll have to see.

    Also, and much more importantly, 3G network coverage in Europe is much, much more widespread than the older services. This is why a lot of people complained in the first place and, when combined with restrictive contracts in markets where unlocked phones are the norm, has been a significant factor in lack of uptake. (Apple have still done well, of course.) As both of these points will be remedied with the 3G iPhone, I think there’ll be huge demand.

  12. t/man says:

    This is a hardly a rigorous comparison. What’s the location? What are the comparative signal strengths? Which 3G technology is used?

    EDGE has a maximum speed of around 400 kilobits/sec. 3G here in Australia as offered by Optus, Vodafone and 3 is enabled at 3.6 megabits/sec and Telstra currently has 7.2 Mb increasing to 14.4 Mb in the future. Comparing EDGE with 3G in the “real world” is like comparing a 56kb modem with ADSL2. (You try making a video call on an EDGE network!) In Europe and Australia a 2G (or 2.5G if you prefer) iPhone simply doesn’t cut it: real penetration will be totally reliant on getting 3G iPhones into people’s hands.

  13. odin says:

    Hey I remember the barbaric 9600 baud days, and 14.4 seemed like magic, 28.8 was lightning speed, and 56k was too cool. I just wish I didn’t have to relive it with my phone. One other thing. Where is the Mac chick of the month????

  14. Gary says:

    i’ve a questions and a point:

    1. when Apple announced the iPhone, they said they wanted to announce it before the FCC did. so, if Apple announces a new iPhone this June (presumably), then will it mean that they’ll release it some time in December? I’m guessing here that all devices with wireless radios need to go through the FCC before being sold.

    2. i’m already on AT&T but the idea of being locked longer on it hindered me from buying the iPhone. so, i think Apple will be best served if they release an unlocked iPhone then just come up with some kind of revenue sharing of some kind (if Apple still want it) with both AT&T and T-mobile; say a share of the cost of getting data? i mean, they could’ve released the iPhone worldwide last June and i think that will be a bigger revenue from the iPhones themselves. and also, i have an iPod, an iPod nano and an iPod shuffle. i won’t be able to do the same if the iPhone is locked – returning customers will be restricted by the lock-in period, or so i believe. i mean, how will the current iphone owners upgrade to a new one? another contract extension?

    just my two cents. 🙂

  15. Luftkopf says:

    200% of a small value is still a small value.

    I have a 3G Nokia, (no iPhone in Australia yet) and the increased speed is highly unexciting. Yes, data during phone calls is nice, and *any* increase in speed *is* welcome, still the difference isn’t mind blowing. In my experience, it’s like going from 256kbps to 512. Better but not especially so.

  16. John Lockwood says:

    It is important to note that 3G is not the same thing as HSDPA.

    As a UK resident who has used 3G for some time I can indeed confirm it is in reality (forget the sales lies) a minor update from GPRS or EDGE and therefore a huge disappointment. However HSDPA (often referred to as 3.5G) is a big improvement and really does live up to the title ‘mobile broadband’.

    I therefore hope Apple go straight to implementing HSDPA (or even HSUPA which is the next step up) both of which are available now as chips and products. (They are backwards compatible with ‘ordinary’ 3G.)

  17. Pauldy says:

    I think most people miss the boat on the importance of the 3g update. It isn’t just the speed increase which is significant enough to note, it is also the ability to receive a phone call while your waiting for that web page to download that will make it a must have update for myself.

  18. miksuh says:

    Well iPhone 3G speed really seems to be ridiculously low. In Apple pages you can see how they say that iPhone with 3G is 2.4 times as fast as IPhone and EDGE. Ooooooohh wow that’s fast! Or actually it is not. That’s ridiculously slow speed.

    EDGE max download speed is something like 269kbit/s and average speed is 160 – 200 kbit/s. Now if you multiply those numbers with 2.4 you can see that speed will be something like 512kbit/s or 700kbit/s at max.

    Eg. Nokia N95 can transfer 3.6Mbit/s over 3G network.

    N95 with 2Mbit/s 3G-mobile network connection (29.80eur/month here) is nice.

  19. sun says:

    Well the specs say it has HSDPA, but they are still only claiming double EDGE speed. I think HSDPA networks are all at least 1.8 Mbps. So why aren’t they claiming more than double?

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