I happen to have three of Verizon’s LTE devices. The first was the Pantech UML290which I am using on my MacBook Air.
The second device is the HTC Thunderbolt. Lastly is the Samsung SCH-LC11 mobile hot spot, which arrived today. I decided to take them all for a spin and see how they stack up against each other. By far the Pantech is the speed demon of the bunch when it comes to laptop connectivity. I was careful on how I worded that because according to Speedtest.net the Thunderbolt is the beast of them all, however those numbers fall quickly when using it’s hot spot ability. I also think that there is something off with Speedtest.net’s android app. The numbers are off especially the upload side of things.
I live in White Plains which is a suburb just outside of New York City. With the Pantech UML290 I consistently get speeds in the 28Mbps down and 7Mbps up range. The only problem I have with the unit is that if it falls back to 3G service it never tries to go back to 4G service. I have asked various people in the local store and Technical services in their call center All of which have informed me that the modem will never try to recover and that I have to remove the modem and reinsert it for it to attach to 4G again.
I received the Samsung SCH-LC11 today via FedEx and I was happy until I started testing it. I had been waiting for some sort of LTE MiFi device for some time. I love the idea of turning it on in my bag and having my laptop, iPad and camera all have access to it at the same time. If it were able to stay somewhat close to the speeds I was receiving from my Pantech I would be golden. However in testing it I found that I only received half the speed and for me that is a deal breaker. I will test it on my commute into the city in the morning to see if it at least will recover itself back to 4G after it drops to 3G. That is the one thing that might keep me from returning it. I do think after all is said and done, I will be waiting for the Novatel Mifi Device to come out.
Now on to the phone I love and hate equally. That would be the Thunderbolt I purchased a week and a half ago. It is somewhat bigger to begin with than my iPhone. It also drains battery life faster than Norm from Cheers can take down a glass of beer. It is that bad and it has to do with the LTE data network. If you don’t live in an LTE area you might make it through a day. But since where I live and where I commute to are fully covered by LTE the only hope for me was an extended battery. That is where the rub comes in. The extended battery doesn’t fit in the phone itself without a new back cover which is supplied with the battery. With the battery in place, I now call it the hunchback phone because of the awkward hump that is now present. Only a photo will do that comment justice, trust me.
Using the Speedtest.net android app the phone reports getting download speeds in the 20Mbps range and up to 40Mbps in upload speeds. Therein lies the problem, I cannot see any LTE device right now achieving that high speed especially when it is twice the download speed. Something is very wrong with the app and cannot be accurate. When using the Thunderbolt as a hot spot I encountered speeds of 11Mbps down and 5Mbps up on my MacBook Air.
I hope these speed tests were helpful in for those on the fence wondering which way they should go with these devices. For now it looks like my Pantech will be my go to workhorse and I will be returning the Samsung mobile hot spot device.
I will most likely opt for the hot spot service on the Thunderbolt when they start charging for the service in May. It is a nice compliment to the Eye-Fi memory card in my Canon S95 point and shoot. If for some reason I loose the camera I will never loose the magic moments that would have been recorded by the camera.
I will leave an update to this post after I have a discussion with Verizon technical support regarding the poor speeds on the Samsung. If it is in case the norm for the unit, then I will have to wait and see if Novatel’s MiFi will perform better.