Friday, December 11, 2009

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


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 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!

© Matt Cameron aka W4LNUT for BlackBerry Cool, 2009

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