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Comparison: Galaxy S3 LTE (4G) Vs 3G: How Fast Is LTE Really? (Video)

Eric McBride
8

 

So you’ve heard it before a million times: LTE (aka 4G) is freakin fast. You see TV commercials with speeding airplanes and bullets flying in LTE commercials, and with all the hype about its super speed, not everyone has had hands on experience with it. Samsung sent us a Galaxy S3 today with LTE, and as it was my first time ever using an 4G device (it's pretty new here in Germany), I was pretty excited to see just how fast it was when compared to a Galaxy S3 that wasn’t LTE enabled. So just how fast is LTE? Who really comes out on top in the LTE-vs-3g battle, and by how much? Let me show you!

First off, a few things worth mentioned before going into this short video comparing 3G and LTE. LTE is a relatively new service in Berlin, and after running multiple tests, it was hard getting consistent results. At times it was REALLY fast... I mean like...WIFI fast. At other times, it was barely faster than 3G for loading pages and streaming. In the part of the video where we compared streaming a Youtube video, it’s fair to make note that the LTE Galaxy S3 immediately loaded HD video, while the 3G version automatically defaults to a lower resolution (which explains why the picture was smaller..this didn't dawn on us until after we finished the vid). While pages loaded pretty fast on 3G, the LTE Galaxy S3 loaded all photos on the page a lot faster, and I really had to watch the video a few times (as you don't always notice how quickly ALL content on the site notices until you have a second look) to notice how much quicker complete pages with images loaded on the LTE device vs the 3G device. It is actually a pretty noticeable difference that I didn't immediately notice the first time around. 

As I said before, it will also depend on LTE coverage in your area. When we tested LTE in Dusseldorf (another German city a few hours from here), we got WAY higher speeds, but we didn’t manage to reach those same speeds in Berlin. It will also depend on if you are inside a building or outside, and as LTE is relatively new here, keep in mind that the results we had in this short video may not be the same that you will achieve when trying it out on your device (as our scores jumped up and down alot as well after multiple tests).

Here are the Speedtest.net results for both phones (LTE on the left, 3G on the right):

As you can see from the results from Speedtest.net, the LTE Galaxy S3 was the clear winner here.

But for something like LTE vs 3G, seeing the results in real time is a lot more practical than writing about them. So here’s a short hands on video of a 3G Galaxy S3 vs an LTE Galaxy S3 (external link here):

Another thing you’ll want to consider is the cost. LTE plans cost considerably more (here in Berlin anyway) than 3G, so you will need to factor in if it’s worth the extra cost, and if you actually need/have use for such speeds.

What do you guys think? Big difference? Worth the extra money?

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Picture credits: 2.bp.blogspot.com (edited by myself) and geekswipe.net

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Comments

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  • C Pieterek Oct 5, 2012 Link

    Sprint doesn't have LTE near my area yet. It's only in parts of Lake County, Illinois and they're starting to build out in a suburb far west of me. I'm eagerly awaiting LTE, just left T-Mobile (after 10+ good years due to their seemingly unresolvable financial doom).

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  • Ti Mo Oct 5, 2012 Link

    What is this light year thing? The website is really confusing and doesnt really help

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  • Cee T. Oct 5, 2012 Link

    The upload speed in left image can't be right, can it?

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    DaBartonator Oct 7, 2012 Link

    Eric what do you mean by wifi speeds? Wireless b? g? n (probably what you meant) or an even newer standard?
    When testing network speeds the throughput and goodput need to be looked at also for example a schools network will have a heavy load monday-friday but on the week ends the speeds on the network will increase alot ( one test I did on my school I went from around a megabyte up and down to 75 down and 35 up) my point is are you sure you controlled all the variables exapt the one you are testing (that's right just brought up science)

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  • Robert Jansen Oct 8, 2012 Link

    @Cee T
    I was wondering the same thing. My guess is it IS right, just don't understand why a provider would offer so much upstream bandwidth on a mobile device. Consumer cable over here in the Netherlands offers maxed out a 120 mbit / 10mbit line... seems a bit weird in comparison.

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  • Eric McBride Oct 8, 2012 Link

    @ C Pieterek - Let me know your experience with it when you get it! I like it a lot so far..when it works that is.

    @Timo - Spammer. I deleted him :)

    @CeeTee - I do believe it is man, unless the app I used for testing is messed up!

    @DaBartonator -Sorry about that bro. I meant DSL speeds in the sense of it almost being as fast as the internet connection you have at home. Sorry dude. I ll change it to DSL.

    @Robert - That's correct! The German LTE is crazy! LOL!

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  • CJ Brown Oct 10, 2012 Link

    All I have to say is a majority of the no contract 4G LTE Smart Phones are referred to as 4G / 3G (which means they can operate on both). Every no contract 4G LTE Smart Phones that I tested has been faster then the HTC Droid Incredible (granted. all of the no contract 4G LTE Smart Phones were also loaded with Ice Cream Sandwich). The price keeps dropping for no contract smart phones (& I predict it won't be long before 3G service is gone) ...

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  • Eric McBride Oct 11, 2012 Link

    @CJ - I think that shift to 4G is starting as well, but I believe it will take a while to completely move away from 3G, as 4G still has a LOT of playing catch up that needs done.

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