Testing the 3G, 2G and WiFi download speeds on the Bold 9000

19 Comments

various_blackberry_models

Counting the main differences between all the BlackBerry models can be done on one hand. Screen resolution, processing speed, form factor, input, and network speed. Choosing which one is right for you is usually a pretty simple affair. If a device in the lineup doesn’t immediately call out to you as being an obvious fit, you’ve got to become more critical about the details of how you want your device to perform.

One of the bigger deciding factors is raw transmission speed. How fast can you download big emails? How quickly can you send out mission-critical data? How fast can I surf the web? It seems to be the most important factor, with the least amount of clear explanations and data to back up claims.

There is so much vague talk when it comes to the difference between 3G and 2G, while WiFi is unfairly absent in the speed breakdown.

Test 1: Download speed

I will be testing everything on a single BlackBerry Bold 9000, with different network settings via the Connection Manager. This particular test will pit the Bold’s EDGE, 3G, and WiFi connections against each other. BlackBerryCool HQ neighbors a big building littered with cell phone antennae and repeaters, we always get full reception and speedy mobile Internet. Our WiFi connection is running a standard 8 megabits per second broadband connection.
I used a mobile speed test from DSLreports.com with my browser’s java turned on and my browser ID set to FireFox for compatibility reasons.

I performed the 1mb download test 10 times using each connection type, and omitted the best and the worst score (like they do in figure skating).

Here’s how long it took each connection mode to download 1mb on average:

2G: 2.42 seconds
3G: 1.74 seconds
WiFi: 1.44 seconds

I also wanted to do a test that could put these figures into a usage context. Here’s how long it took to load our BlackBerry store from the BlackBerry browser:

2G: 10 seconds
3G: 7 seconds
WiFi: 6 seconds

So in both in testing and in practical use, 3G is around 30% faster than 2G, and WiFi is around 40% faster than 2G for Download speed.

There are more tests coming in this 4 part series so stay tuned!

If you’d like to run a download test of your own and comment, go to dslreports.com/mspeed

  • DavidB

    This is going to be a cool test. I wonder though about the importance to most people of “How fast can you download big emails?”. I mean, really, most of us don’t even know we HAVE an email until it’s already been downloaded, and with your BlackBerry on your hip your first notice that you got an email is the vibrate/audible notification, so how long it took to download prior to that notification isn’t going to REALLY mean much.

    Now browsing speed will impact all of us.

    Are you doing this test with OS4.6, a leaked 5.0, or both? Has the HSPA where you’re testing been upgraded to 7.2?

  • DavidB

    This is going to be a cool test. I wonder though about the importance to most people of “How fast can you download big emails?”. I mean, really, most of us don’t even know we HAVE an email until it’s already been downloaded, and with your BlackBerry on your hip your first notice that you got an email is the vibrate/audible notification, so how long it took to download prior to that notification isn’t going to REALLY mean much.

    Now browsing speed will impact all of us.

    Are you doing this test with OS4.6, a leaked 5.0, or both? Has the HSPA where you’re testing been upgraded to 7.2?

  • Kyle Kemper

    A better question is how fast can you upload big emails/data? On wifi using Vayyoo’s enterprise tech i’ve uploaded at speeds of greater than 150kb/s with payloads amounting to more than 150mbs (on a 9000 running 5.0). Another factor key in determining speeds is whether you’re using the carrier apn or the BIS/BES connection. In my experience the carrier network is far faster. I recommend all users configure their apn settings in the advanced options screen.

    my 2 cents.

  • Kyle Kemper

    A better question is how fast can you upload big emails/data? On wifi using Vayyoo’s enterprise tech i’ve uploaded at speeds of greater than 150kb/s with payloads amounting to more than 150mbs (on a 9000 running 5.0). Another factor key in determining speeds is whether you’re using the carrier apn or the BIS/BES connection. In my experience the carrier network is far faster. I recommend all users configure their apn settings in the advanced options screen.

    my 2 cents.

  • http://blackberrycool.com/ Matt Cameron

    I’m going to be keeping these tests really simple. When others have done these sorts of tests, they get drowned out by the sheer mass of data that they’ve collected (different flavors of 2G and 3G, different locales etc). I would like to keep my results focused on how people really use their BlackBerrys. 1235 kbps vs 1436 kbps has no performance context for me so I’m going to be even more practical for the rest of my testing.

    Here’s a preview of the next installment.

    Test 2: The email test. Testing email transmission and reception for emails big and small. Email is priority one for BlackBerry users, determining a winner will mean a lot of test emails and a stopwatch.

    I’d love some feedback too. Let me know if you’ve devised a test that you’d like me to try out!

    I’m using OS 4.6 and the 2G and 3G flavors I’m using are GSM based so the 2G is EDGE. I want to keep this series of tests simple, if you’d like to post your CDMA-based findings I would be thrilled!

  • http://blackberrycool.com/ Matt Cameron

    I’m going to be keeping these tests really simple. When others have done these sorts of tests, they get drowned out by the sheer mass of data that they’ve collected (different flavors of 2G and 3G, different locales etc). I would like to keep my results focused on how people really use their BlackBerrys. 1235 kbps vs 1436 kbps has no performance context for me so I’m going to be even more practical for the rest of my testing.

    Here’s a preview of the next installment.

    Test 2: The email test. Testing email transmission and reception for emails big and small. Email is priority one for BlackBerry users, determining a winner will mean a lot of test emails and a stopwatch.

    I’d love some feedback too. Let me know if you’ve devised a test that you’d like me to try out!

    I’m using OS 4.6 and the 2G and 3G flavors I’m using are GSM based so the 2G is EDGE. I want to keep this series of tests simple, if you’d like to post your CDMA-based findings I would be thrilled!

  • http://blackberrycool.com Matt Cameron

    I’m going to be keeping these tests really simple. When others have done these sorts of tests, they get drowned out by the sheer mass of data that they’ve collected (different flavors of 2G and 3G, different locales etc). I would like to keep my results focused on how people really use their BlackBerrys. 1235 kbps vs 1436 kbps has no performance context for me so I’m going to be even more practical for the rest of my testing.

    Here’s a preview of the next installment.

    Test 2: The email test. Testing email transmission and reception for emails big and small. Email is priority one for BlackBerry users, determining a winner will mean a lot of test emails and a stopwatch.

    I’d love some feedback too. Let me know if you’ve devised a test that you’d like me to try out!

    I’m using OS 4.6 and the 2G and 3G flavors I’m using are GSM based so the 2G is EDGE. I want to keep this series of tests simple, if you’d like to post your CDMA-based findings I would be thrilled!

  • Hasan Alpan

    This will be very interesting to see, and I can’t wait for all of the results to start coming in. I ran some similar tests because i was quite disappointed with the overall WiFi performance on my Bold 9000. I couldn’t quite figure out why the WiFi results were not that much better than 3G results. Then I did a series of test where I turned the radio off, so only WiFi was active, and got significantly better results! Try it and see if you get similar results, I would be interested. Good luck with your testing!

  • Hasan Alpan

    This will be very interesting to see, and I can’t wait for all of the results to start coming in. I ran some similar tests because i was quite disappointed with the overall WiFi performance on my Bold 9000. I couldn’t quite figure out why the WiFi results were not that much better than 3G results. Then I did a series of test where I turned the radio off, so only WiFi was active, and got significantly better results! Try it and see if you get similar results, I would be interested. Good luck with your testing!

  • Hasan Alpan

    This will be very interesting to see, and I can’t wait for all of the results to start coming in. I ran some similar tests because i was quite disappointed with the overall WiFi performance on my Bold 9000. I couldn’t quite figure out why the WiFi results were not that much better than 3G results. Then I did a series of test where I turned the radio off, so only WiFi was active, and got significantly better results! Try it and see if you get similar results, I would be interested. Good luck with your testing!

  • http://iablog.sybase.com/tslee tom slee

    In addition to the bandwidth, latency is an interesting thing to measure.

    I make that 4708 Kbps for 3G, which is faster than those recorded by Wired Magazine in the US earlier this year: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/07/3g-speed-test/. Perhaps networks are being upgraded?

  • http://iablog.sybase.com/tslee tom slee

    In addition to the bandwidth, latency is an interesting thing to measure.

    I make that 4708 Kbps for 3G, which is faster than those recorded by Wired Magazine in the US earlier this year: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/07/3g-speed-test/. Perhaps networks are being upgraded?

  • Mark

    Maybe you didn’t read the “Why this test doesn’t work on BlackBerry browsers” link. But there is no possible way you downloaded 1 MEGABYTE in 2.42 seconds using EDGE (which is 2.5 or 2.75G, 2G = GPRS).

    EDGE has a theoretical max speed of 473.6 kilobits (not bytes) per second. Which is 60 KB/s which means that at maximum speed it would take 17 seconds for EDGE to download 1MB. More realistically you’re probably only going to be getting 1/2 that speed? Maybe less. So it should take more around 40 seconds to 1 minute.

    I would suggest the speed test app made by XtremeLabs to get some better results.

  • Mark

    Maybe you didn’t read the “Why this test doesn’t work on BlackBerry browsers” link. But there is no possible way you downloaded 1 MEGABYTE in 2.42 seconds using EDGE (which is 2.5 or 2.75G, 2G = GPRS).

    EDGE has a theoretical max speed of 473.6 kilobits (not bytes) per second. Which is 60 KB/s which means that at maximum speed it would take 17 seconds for EDGE to download 1MB. More realistically you’re probably only going to be getting 1/2 that speed? Maybe less. So it should take more around 40 seconds to 1 minute.

    I would suggest the speed test app made by XtremeLabs to get some better results.

  • Vito

    I second Mark’s comment.

    Didn’t it cross your mind that the results are EXTREMELY fast on all connection types?

    It is IMPOSSIBLE for Edge (2G) or even the Bold’s 3G (which is only 3.2Mbit) to download a 1MB file that fast. I would say it’s even impossible wifi as I’ve never seem my 9700 download anything that fast.

    Basically your tests are flawed. The issue is likely that your browser is caching the data and not actually re-downlaading it each time. The discrepancies in the test results are due to the time it takes each connection type to hit the web page and confirm the info (much less than 1MB).

    Download the Xtremelabs app and try again.

    Actually, since I’m up anyway, I ran some tests myself. I ran each test a few times and averaged the results. There were no large discrepancies when re-running the test on the same connection type so I did throw out the best and worst times (also, I’m holding a 4mo old and I can’t be bothered to run the tests more than I already have).

    Results:

    2G 250kbps (32 seconds)
    3G 2200kbps (3.7 seconds)
    WiFi 722kbps (11 seconds)

    Now, I’m looking at the numbers above and I’m thinking – wtf is up with wifi? It’s not my internet connecting which is 13Mb. On a hunch, I turned of Bluetooth and sure enough, the speeds doubled! With Bluetooth turned off I was getting ~1690kbps down, so more than twice as fast (~5 seconds for a 1MB file). Anyway, those speeds are still not the best – I think it’s likely due to my encryption/wifi router compatibility.

    I re-tested 3G as well and it went up another 1000kbps to 3200kbps (2.5 seconds).

    Lastly, upload speeds sucks on both 2G and 3G from my house – my couch more specifically. Both 2G and 3G were around 40kbps – so that would take about 3min 20 seconds to upload 1MB.

    In a reversal of the download speeds, WiFi uploads speeds came out on top with 900kbps (10 seconds for 1MB).

    Happy Sunday.

    -V

  • Vito

    I second Mark’s comment.

    Didn’t it cross your mind that the results are EXTREMELY fast on all connection types?

    It is IMPOSSIBLE for Edge (2G) or even the Bold’s 3G (which is only 3.2Mbit) to download a 1MB file that fast. I would say it’s even impossible wifi as I’ve never seem my 9700 download anything that fast.

    Basically your tests are flawed. The issue is likely that your browser is caching the data and not actually re-downlaading it each time. The discrepancies in the test results are due to the time it takes each connection type to hit the web page and confirm the info (much less than 1MB).

    Download the Xtremelabs app and try again.

    Actually, since I’m up anyway, I ran some tests myself. I ran each test a few times and averaged the results. There were no large discrepancies when re-running the test on the same connection type so I did throw out the best and worst times (also, I’m holding a 4mo old and I can’t be bothered to run the tests more than I already have).

    Results:

    2G 250kbps (32 seconds)
    3G 2200kbps (3.7 seconds)
    WiFi 722kbps (11 seconds)

    Now, I’m looking at the numbers above and I’m thinking – wtf is up with wifi? It’s not my internet connecting which is 13Mb. On a hunch, I turned of Bluetooth and sure enough, the speeds doubled! With Bluetooth turned off I was getting ~1690kbps down, so more than twice as fast (~5 seconds for a 1MB file). Anyway, those speeds are still not the best – I think it’s likely due to my encryption/wifi router compatibility.

    I re-tested 3G as well and it went up another 1000kbps to 3200kbps (2.5 seconds).

    Lastly, upload speeds sucks on both 2G and 3G from my house – my couch more specifically. Both 2G and 3G were around 40kbps – so that would take about 3min 20 seconds to upload 1MB.

    In a reversal of the download speeds, WiFi uploads speeds came out on top with 900kbps (10 seconds for 1MB).

    Happy Sunday.

    -V

  • Tyler

    I’ll agree with Mark here. You can’t get those kinds of speeds from EDGE – you should probably update this post to reflect that – it’s pretty misleading. There’s a reason why the website won’t let you use your Blackberry browser.

  • Tyler

    I’ll agree with Mark here. You can’t get those kinds of speeds from EDGE – you should probably update this post to reflect that – it’s pretty misleading. There’s a reason why the website won’t let you use your Blackberry browser.

  • Tyler

    I’ll agree with Mark here. You can’t get those kinds of speeds from EDGE – you should probably update this post to reflect that – it’s pretty misleading. There’s a reason why the website won’t let you use your Blackberry browser.