Anand Reviews the Apple iPhone 3Gby Anand Lal Shimpi on July 16, 2008 8:00 PM EST
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The first thing I did after getting the iPhone 3G was to run a 3G performance test on it. I published my findings immediately.
I’m pretty sure that I can answer the “should I upgrade my iPhone?” question in this page alone, so let’s practice being succinct!
Without a doubt 3G is a lot faster than Edge on the iPhone, but it’s worth setting proper expectations; here are the raw numbers:
Edge will download at around 110kbps, 1Mbps for 3G and 3Mbps for WiFi. Fast enough for web browsing, right? Wrong.
Let’s look at some real world tests:
I loaded the iPhone optimized Facebook home page, on Edge it took 9.2 seconds, 8.5 seconds on 3G and 3.8 seconds on WiFi. What’s interesting is that the initial connection to the server seems to take much longer on both Edge/3G than on WiFi. I originally hypothesized that this may be a DNS issue on AT&T’s network, but even visiting sites using their IP address alone showed the same lag before the page started loading. I’ve seen this as long as I’ve had an Edge capable phone, so it’s not an iPhone specific issue - but it does eat into the usefulness of 3G.
Next up was Digg’s iPhone optimized site:
Here 3G offers a more significant performance advantage, but it still takes around twice as long to render a page as WiFi. Again, I suspect that the problem here is the initial connection to the server.
Finally we have a image heavy site, a little hardware website called AnandTech:
With an image heavy website we’re bound more by download speed than by latency, so while Edge took 45 seconds to load, 3G only took 17 seconds, and WiFi barely had an advantage at 13.5 seconds.
If the majority of sites you use on your iPhone are small, text heavy sites, then you honestly won’t notice a huge difference between Edge and 3G, and it won’t feel like WiFi anywhere to you. However, if you use sites with more images and content to download, 3G will feel more like WiFi and Edge just won’t cut it.