To make for a level playing field in terms of average speeds, data from only Verizon and Sprint is included because as of July, 2019, AT&T had yet to launch 5G for consumers and T-Mobile launched its 5G network in mid-July. Additionally, all data results are from either a Galaxy S10 5G or LG V50, which both utilize a Snapdragon X50 modem, but is capable of accessing both the sub-6GHz range and mmWave in the 28GHz band.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the 5G vs. 4G LTE speeds.
If you’re purely looking for huge download speeds, Verizon and its mmWave offering is the way to go. The downside is, access to these speeds is in very limited dense urban environments. Sprint went the other route, where 5G speeds will be lower, but the network is capable of spreading across larger areas.
Speedtest provides a bit of context for this in its report.
- Sprint – Sprint, being the only U.S. operator offering 5G service in the sub-6 GHz (2.5 GHz TDD) frequency range, has the potential to deliver enhanced 5G coverage and capacity with the addition of 40-60 MHz of bandwidth. Speedtest Intelligence shows that tests initiated on Sprint’s 5G connection deliver a nearly 3X improvement in download speeds over its speeds on LTE.
- Verizon – Verizon Wireless’s network currently relies on mmWave in the 28 GHz band. The limited propagation of this frequency band makes it suitable for dense urban deployments, and vast swaths of spectrum (400 MHz) deliver breathtaking speeds on mobile devices.
When comparing speeds of 5G vs. LTE across select US cities, you can clearly see the difference between the two. Below we have 5G speeds up against LTE speeds, the percentage difference, plus the maximum download speeds on 5G for that area.
Again, while Verizon crushes Sprint in a straight race of speed, Verizon’s mmWave spectrum does not spread as far, so while Sprint’s sub-6 GHz 5G network is slower than Verizon’s, Sprint is able to cover a wider area. If Verizon was looking to do a little celebratory dance, though, its 5G network in Providence is 11x faster than its LTE connection which is pretty darn awesome.
Since we’re in Portland, OR, I just assume we won’t be seeing these kind of speeds until much later down the road as all of the US carriers continue to build out their 5G networks. The wait sucks, but these speeds show that it should be well worth it.