LTE service has been randomly popping up on my iPhone 5 in the North Austin area these past couple of days. Note that Sprint LTE has not yet launched in town.
It only lasts for a few minutes, and the speeds may differ from what we’ll get once it goes live. But the fact that they are testing is a sign that the launch is imminent.
Obviously, when I saw LTE, I had to run a speed test. Speeds were a little disappointing compared with what I’ve read about LTE; but are about a million times better than the notoriously slow Sprint 3G service. Boy I hate CDMA.
For comparison’s sake, here are other results I’ve gotten. They vary from run to run and each run depends on a lot of factors, like how far you are sitting from the cell phone tower or WiFi station, or how much other network traffic there is at the moment. But they do provide a good idea of what to expect:
Sprint LTE (Austin, test)
Sprint 3G (Austin)
Sprint LTE (Woodlands)
Home (Time Warner Cable)
AT&T LTE (Austin)
As you can see, 3G is soooo slow you can almost hear this. Can’t wait for LTE to go live.
Update: Reader Rolando O. sent a screenshot of SpeedTest results in AT&T LTE. They are amazing. I’ve added the numbers to the table.
Response (Joe R.) 10/24/2011 09:11 PM
Thank you for your email, iPhones<sic> are locked and are not being unlocked.
This is the heart-breaking response I received last week when I asked whether I can use a Telcel micro-SIM on my iPhone 4S when in Mexico.
It’s now even more evident that Sprint does not yet have it’s <deleted> together when it comes to these kind of details regarding their iPhone 4S.
I went to a Telcel store today. I patiently stood in line for half an hour. I gambled all of $150 pesos (about $11.50 USD in today’s rate) on a prepaid “Amigo” micro-SIM card. Popped it in and voilà! It works: I have my own local phone number.
So here it is: if you bought an early Sprint iPhone 4S, I can guarantee that at least for me:
AT&T micro-SIM did not work.
Telcel (Mexico) micro-SIM works like a charm.
This agrees with other reports I’ve read online. I’d love to hear about your experiences, as YMMV.
T-1. I decide to call AT&T again. This time they are able to cancel my order. So why didn’t the last person cancel it? What changed? This further proves that when it comes to phone or cable companies, you can’t trust what you are told and just need to keep calling.
The representative does warn me: It will take 2 to 3 days for your contract to revert. Uh-oh.
Genius idea: since the phone is presumably unlocked, use my still valid AT&T SIM on it for 2-3 days until the contract reverts. Then start my phone activation and number transfer with Sprint.
October 14, 2011
I leave my house to work. Interestingly, my phone had no service. Common in the area. Later I realize that it was not just bad coverage, but it was dead. No service from AT&T. My genius idea goes down the drain. When I get to the office I try to log-in to AT&T:
I’m not about to cal. Two possibilities:
AT&T’s guy canceled my account, not just my order. Potential problem: I could lose my number. Or…
Sprint started my number transferred too early. Potential problem: My contract with AT&T still says I just renewed and they make me pay the full cancellation fee.
Then… I receive my iPhone 4S. It’s as beautiful as I had hoped. And my number is working! (which means it was #2). I test an AT&T SIM to see if it’s unlocked. Damn.
Today I got my Sprint iPhone 4S. Of course I had to settle the unlocked-locked-unlocked Sprint debacle. I popped in a good AT&T micro-SIM card from a colleague.
Then I rebooted… I managed to make it into Settings > General > About > Carrier and briefly saw AT&T. Then my phone rebooted into the Activation Screen.
When I tried to activate I got the following disappointing message:
Only compatible SIM cards from a supported carrier may be used to activate iPhone. Please insert the SIM card that came with your iPhone or visit a supported carrier’s store to receive a replacement SIM card.
October 7, 2011: Preorders begin. I realize I’m not yet eligible for an upgrade so I will get it unlocked instead. Need to wait until November and then pay through my nose for it.
October 8, 2011: Brilliant idea from Erica Sadun (TUAW): AT&T wants me to pay $250 extra for an iPhone because I’m still under contract. But leaving AT&T would cost me $80 at this point. Makes no sense. Call AT&T, explain this slowly to two different representatives. The second one finally gets the math, gets me a $250 credit. I place my order. I should get it on launch day! Oh, and they will renew my contract for another two years.
October 11, 2011: My order does not show up in the system yet. It should within 24 hours. Something stinks… I had beans for lunch. And something is wrong here. I call AT&T: half an hour later I get disconnected. Call again. 2.5 hours later, mostly on hold, and after explaining the same thing to 4 people and two answering machines, someone can finally tell me what the problem is: I didn’t accept the Service Agreement by clicking on a link in an email I never receive. She re-sends it and I click it. She assures me my spot on the preorder queue will be respected. Four hours later a confirmation email arrives with a 28 day estimated shipping time. Depression sets in. At night, Macworld’s Jason Snell claims that the SIM slot on the Sprint iPhone 4S is unlocked!
October 12, 2011: Morning realization: I’m better off switching carriers: I get an unlocked iPhone 4S for when I travel and a significantly lower monthly payment (goodbye old AT&T family, hello new Sprint family). The phone call to Sprint takes about an hour but my phone is supposed to arrive on Friday or Saturday. The first thing I see after I hang up is a rebuttal to the Sprint SIM unlock story. Damn. Then I call AT&T to cancel my order. They claim it cannot be canceled, and blame Apple. What the?! Call American Express to instruct them to withhold all payments to AT&T. You don’t want to mess with Marcos: I withhold payments.
October 13, 2011: Sprint say my phone is shipping and due to delivery tomorrow!