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New iPad 4G Real-World Speed Test

Picking different servers in testing will affect the result a great deal. Nevertheless, for the most part true 4G connections are generally more than fast enough for tablet users. Despite the mundane and nondescriptive name, the new iPad (third generation) is actually the first 4G device from Apple.

New iPad 4G Real-World Speed Test

The iPhone 4S as well as the iPhone 4 are both 3G devices. The fact that iOS 5.1 makes the AT&T’s iPhone 4S show a 4G signal only makes it more confusing and  now you probably don’t know what 4G is anymore.

I do, however. How, you might ask? Well, it’s simple; 4G is fast, and putting a Ferrari logo on your Honda Civic won’t make it a racing car. No offense to the Civic; it’s great on gas, but it’s speed we’re talking about here. So let me say this once again, the new iPad is the first 4G device from Apple.

Just a couple of months ago, I had a chance to roam around San Francisco with the new iPhone 4S from all supported carriers and found that none of them offered the cellular Internet speed even close to that of even the slowest 4G device. Now, I just did the same thing with the new iPad, both AT&T and Version versions, and it was quite the opposite story.

But first, let’s go over again about how I did the testing.

The Verizon version of the new iPad offers the Personal Hotspot feature that allows for sharing the tablet's 4G connection with other Wi-Fi devices.

The Verizon version of the new iPad offers the Personal Hotspot feature that allows for sharing the tablet’s 4G connection with other Wi-Fi devices.

How it was tested

It’s necessary to say that cellular Internet speeds vary a great deal from one location to another. This is because cell towers are scattered and when there are many devices connected to a tower, each will get a smaller portion of the service. This means even at the same location, the speed might also change at a different time of day.

That’s why it’s very hard to have a good sense of how fast a cellular connection is. In an effort to make it the most representative, I picked three locations around the city of San Francisco, including the CNET office in the Financial District, the Pier 39 area, and Union Square. These areas are well-known and generally very populated.

At each place I did the testing three times but unlike with the iPhone 4GS, I tested the new iPad each time about 30 minutes apart from another by driving around those places between each round of testing. While this was more time-consuming, it helped make the average number similar to what you’ll likely experience, since different times of day are factored in.

For the testing, I used the Speedtest.net mobile app, which is not designed for the iPad’s screen, but since it’s not a game, that won’t be a problem. For each test, I picked the same and closest server for each device.

In addition to the Verizon iPad, I also used an iPhone 4 to test the speed of the Personal Hotspot feature, which allows the iPad to work as a mobile hot spot and share its cellular 4G connection with other Wi-Fi devices. The AT&T version of the new iPad doesn’t offer the Personal Hotspot feature.

Keep in mind that these tests only evaluate data speeds for these devices in San Francisco and are not designed to be representative of data speeds you’ll find in your area. However, they at least should show how the data speeds compare between each carrier’s version of the iPad, as well as the speed the Verizon iPad’s hot-spot feature offers.

Unlike the iPhone 4S, where the connection speeds changed significantly at the same location, the iPad showed much more consistent speeds at one location. They did change a great deal from one location to another, however. Here are the changes broken down at different places via three rounds of tests:
The new iPad's 4G cellular speeds are a lot more consistent than the 3G speeds of the iPhone 4S.

The new iPad’s 4G cellular speeds are a lot more consistent than the 3G speeds of the iPhone 4S.

I tested the devices at the CNET office on the sixth floor where the iPhone’s 3G signal has been notoriously bad. This turned out not to be the case with 4G. Both devices had good signal and offered quite consistent download and upload speeds that averaged some 13Mbps up and about 5.5Mbps down for AT&T and 12.4Mbps up and 7.0Mbps down for Verizon. At this location, Verizon was slightly slower than AT&T in download speed but was faster in upload speed.

When working as a mobile hot spot, the Verizon iPad also offered very good speed, with the connected iPhone 4 averaging 11Mbps up and 12.9Mbps down. Note how the upload speed was actually slightly faster than the download speed and faster than when the Verizon iPad was not working as a hot spot. This happened consistently in my trials and was rather puzzling.

Union Square

Union Square was by far the prime spot for AT&T; its new iPad showed unreal cellular 4G speed that averaged 30.4Mbps for downloading and around 24.5Mbps for uploading. These are really fast speeds that are normally only seen in upper tiers of residential cable connections.

The Verizon iPad, on the other hand, still offered similar speeds to those it did at the CNET office, but just slightly faster, at some 15Mbps for download and 9.6Mbps for upload. When working as a hot spot, these were lowered to 10.7Mbps and 7Mbps for download and upload, respectively.

Pier 39

Pier 39 was packed with people during the three times I did the testings, and as expected was the place where both devices showed the slowest connections. The AT&T iPad, however, was still able to beat its counterpart by a few Mbps, by averaging 10.3Mbps down and 8.9Mbps up compared to 8.7Mbps down and 6.3Mbps up of the Verizon.

When working as a mobile hot spot, the Verizon iPad’s speeds were slightly lowered to 8.5Mbps down and 4.6Mbps up.

While AT&T's version of the new iPad showed better speed, it's likely that Verizon customers will have exactly the same Internet experience with their version of the new tablet. This is because the 4G speeds are generally faster than most of the requirements for most mobile applications.

While AT&T’s version of the new iPad show better speed, it’s likely that Verizon customers will have exactly the same Internet experience with their version of the new tablet. This is because the 4G speeds are generally faster than most of the requirements for most mobile applications.

You are the winner

Unlike the fight between 3G devices, both versions of the iPad were really fast in my testing. While the AT&T version was generally faster, both of them have a starting point that was so high that from a user’s point of view, there’s likely no difference at all in terms of speed between the two.

In fact, in my trials, regardless of where I was around town, all Internet applications worked instantly. There was no lag or buffer time for video streaming. It was really a big difference moving from a 3G device. For this reason, as far as the connection speed is concerned, the winner this time is actually the users.

Note that since the new iPad is sold at the full price, it’s likely that they are not locked. It’s been confirmed that the Verizon version can actually use a generic SIM card, including one from AT&T. It’s my guess that you might be able to use a local SIM with the AT&T version, too, which is really a bonus for those who travel internationally.

Souurce : CNET

 

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