Testing T-Mobile's 4G LTE

We put T-Mobile's fledgling 4G LTE network and iPhone 5 to the test.

iPhone 5, T-Mobile, 4G LTE
Just how fast is the iPhone 5 on T-Mobile's 4G LTE network? Ariel Nunez/CNET

T-Mobile just took a bold, new step by shredding the contracts for its plans plus launching its new 4G LTE data network . But what kind of speeds can you really expect to see on the carrier's hot, new devices? Judging from what I observed at T-Mobile's splashy press event in New York, apparently quite a bit.

Let's be clear, though; this testing was done on a special network set up just for this press conference. That means that the data performance I measured is likely much faster than what you'd see in the real world.

For instance, only the devices in the room, and perhaps lucky T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy Note 2 owners in New York who upgraded their software , could have possibly connected to this ad hoc cellular site.

That said, the performance I clocked was no less impressive. On the new iPhone 5 , which has been specially tuned to T-Mobile's 4G LTE and HSPA+ signal, I managed downloads at a zippy 20 Mbps or more. Upload throughput came in at respectable 10 Mbps as well.

Moving next to the HTC One , I fired up the Oookla Speed Test app that T-Mobile thoughtfully preloaded and was treated to download throughput of 20 to 30 Mbps. Uploads were blistering, too, at a staggering 15 to 20 Mbps.

I also got my hands on the upcoming BlackBerry Z10 for T-Mobile as well. While I was unable to run network tests via the Ookla Speed Test app, since there isn't one yet for BlackBerry 10, I examined performance using the service's companion Web site.

Like the iPhone 5, The Z10 pulled down approximately 20 Mbps in terms of data. I have a suspicion, though, that since the Web site felt sluggish, if I had used a true app, throughput would have been faster.

One big letdown, however, is that I wasn't allowed to test the Samsung Galaxy S4 , or even lay my hands on the device. A phalanx of PR folks and T-Mobile execs guarded the gadget as if it were made of solid gold and prevented access.

Just how fast will T-Mobile's new 4G LTE infrastructure be out in the real world? We'll just have to find out when its full complement of compatible devices hits the airwaves and T-Mobile's LTE network unfurls in earnest this year.

Read the full CNET Review

Samsung Galaxy S4

The Bottom Line: Its laundry list of features require time and effort to truly master, but the Galaxy S4 is the top choice for anyone looking for a big-screen, do-everything smartphone. / Read full review

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BlackBerry Z10

The Bottom Line: Though it's not quite enough to draw committed iPhone or Android owners, the BlackBerry Z10's modern design and features give BlackBerry fans what they've hungered for. / Read full review

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Apple iPhone 5

The Bottom Line: The iPhone 5 completely rebuilds the iPhone on a framework of new features and design, addressing its major previous shortcomings. It's absolutely the best iPhone to date, and it easily secures its place in the top tier of the smartphone universe. / Read full review

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Samsung Galaxy Note 2

The Bottom Line: Samsung delivers a powerful, boundary-pushing device that gets a lot right. Yet its complicated features and high price raise questions about its purpose. / Read full review

About the author

Brian Bennett is senior editor for mobile phones at CNET and reviews a wide range of mobile communication products. These include smartphones and their myriad accessories. He has more than 12 years of experience in technology journalism and has put practically anything fun with a micro chip through its paces at some point.



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