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Samsung Users Experience Faster 4G Speeds than Apple or Huawei

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019 (7:00 am) - Score 1,788
mobile smartphone and uk sim card sizes

Crowd-sourced analyst firm Opensignal has tested the Mobile Broadband speeds experienced by the three largest Smartphone makers (by shipment volume) across 73 countries – Apple, Huawei and Samsung – and concluded that Samsung users experienced faster download speeds. But the wider picture is more complicated.

Opensignal took a total of 117,846,554,241 measurements across 23.3 million Smartphones between 1st April and 30th June 2019. The results found that Samsung users experienced faster download speeds than Apple and Huawei users in 35% of countries (across 40 countries analysed), although Apple users were faster in 17.5% of countries. Meanwhile, in the remaining 48%, none of the three were fastest but Huawei users were joint-fastest in 7 countries.

Generally speaking the performance of different Smartphones is far more likely to be hobbled by mobile network capacity than that of their own chipsets, although certainly some models do ship with more capable 4G modems than others. Equally there are other complications to consider, such as the fact that certain models may not support all of a particular markets available radio spectrum bands for optimum performance.

NOTE: In the UK Samsung phones achieved just above 25Mbps (average), which was a tiny bit faster than Huawei (25Mbps) and well ahead of Apple (20Mbps).

opensignal fastest smartphone make 2019

In order to show the impact of different modems the research also grouped each brand’s users based on their device’s LTE Category (this reflects the industry standard for 4G network capability) and put them into three tiers.

Low-tier Smartphones supported the older and slower LTE Category 4 or lower standards, while Medium-tier covered LTE Category 5-15 and High-tier was only for the fastest and most modern LTE Category 16 and up devices. The latter includes some 5G capable phones but few will actually be using those connections (i.e. most of the time they’ll be on 4G).

In terms of High-tier phones, once again Samsung (Android) users experienced the fastest download speeds and enjoyed 26.6Mbps globally, which compares with 25.1Mbps for Apple (iOS) users and just 24.4Mbps for Huawei (Android) users. However the situation changes for Medium-tier and Low-tier phones.

opensignal fastest smartphone by lte category tier 2019

Apple’s problem is that few of its current models are high-tier devices (just 14% of Apple users in the testing). Instead, Apple has chosen to focus its handset designs on other capabilities such as facial recognition, camera innovation, battery life and extremely fast processors etc.

By comparison all of Samsung and Huawei’s flagship models for the last couple of years have featured so-called “gigabit” capable mobile broadband modem designs (LTE Category 16 and above). At present only the iPhone XS and XS Max are said in the report to have such capability.

Mind you Apple users won’t be missing much because real-world average speeds on Cat 16+ devices don’t even get close to 1Gbps. Such phones saw just 30.7Mbps in the UK and the fastest was 70.6Mbps in South Korea, although these are averages and it would have been nice to see a figure for the top 10% of peak speeds.

opensignal_fastest_smartphone_by_lte_category_tier_and_country

As usual there are other caveats to this sort of crowd-sourced data. For example, this can be impacted by any other limitations of the devices being used, which at the same time removes the ability to adopt a common type of hardware in order to establish a solid baseline of performance for scientific modelling and comparison. So take all of this with a pinch of salt but it’s still a useful summary of large-scale testing.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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6 Responses
  1. Avatar Tim Higgs

    Sadly LTE+ coverage is still poor. Few towns with a population of less than 50k have LTE+. So speeds are limited to about 75Mbps per cell (10MHz) or 150Mbps if the MNO is using 20MHz.

    Vodafone please get to work rolling out LTE+! Ideally 3CA or more.

    • I suspect some operators may wait until they upgrade to 5G in order to add this to some areas, since otherwise they’d be spending to upgrade older 4G kit only to replace it again in another couple of years with 5G.

    • Avatar tim

      If that is the case then we could be waiting 3-4 years before seeing improvements in speeds in places other than the biggest 30 or so towns.

      4G is already getting slower since Vodafone started doing unlimited. We can not wait years for improvements to 4G.

  2. Avatar eM

    I’m not surprised to hear this about the iPhones. Apple’s patent fight with Quallcomm meant they had to put modems made by Intel into their latest iPhones, and these are known to be slower

  3. Avatar mike

    I could get 120Mbps on EE with my iPhone 6 and now I’m on Three I consistently get over 50Mbps. Both speeds are more than fast enough for anything I do on my phone.

  4. Avatar Nick

    For me it’s the other way around. I had BT mobile in my iPhone 8 and could get speeds from my local site in excess of 180mbps. However the exact same SIM inserted into my Pixel 3 within minutes on the same serving cell proved very sporadic (jumpy) and nowhere near what the iPhone 8 could get. After some immense testing over a 2 week period I had come to the conclusion that the APN settings for BT Mobile provided by Google were causing the issues, in particular the MVNO type settings.

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