The LTE Experience: Ridiculously Fast

The WiFi Galaxy Tab 10.1's model number is GT-P7100. The 4G version is the SCH-I905. Both run Android 3.1 however the most recent update to the GT-P7100 that enabled TouchWiz isn't available for the SCH-I905 yet. The delayed update is likely due to additional testing that Verizon does on all software updates for devices on its network. Unfortunately this is a downside to any tablet operating on a cellular network, carrier testing doesn't seem to be the most efficient process in the world.

LTE in Honeycomb isn't all that different from EVDO. Instead of a 3G indicator you obviously get a 4G label in the corner of the screen:

There's no quick toggle between 3G and 4G similar to what you'd find on a smartphone. To force EVDO you have to go into Wireless & Networks, Mobile networks, System selection and finally select CDMA mode instead of LTE automatic:

Not being able to quickly turn off LTE is less of an issue on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 because of its gigantic battery. At nearly 26Whr you've got around 5x the battery capacity of an LTE phone. We'll get to that shortly. First let's look at the sort of speeds you can expect from the Galaxy Tab 10.1 on Verizon's LTE network.

To start, I did a simple timed loading test of the front page on LTE, EVDO as well as my home cable internet connection via WiFi. I cleared the browser's cache before each set of runs and ran the test 5 times on each network. An average of the results are below: Loading Comparison

With a good enough backbone, WiFi can still obviously be faster than LTE on the Tab. The margin of victory is pretty slim though, and I'd guess the majority of WiFi networks you connect to on the go won't deliver 50Mbps of bandwidth downstream. The advantage over EVDO is not only noticeable, but huge.

I packed the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with me for drive tests around Raleigh, NC. Verizon flipped the switch on LTE in my area at the end of July and performance has been quite good since then. The histogram of my download tests is below:

Performance peaked at 35Mbps and it went as low as 5Mbps. Most of the tests fell within the 15 - 25Mbps range. Downstream performance was almost binary in my office: I'd either get 12Mbps or 25Mbps down, in the same physical location.

Upstream performance was also very good. Peak upstream speed topped out at 10Mbps, while typical speeds were closer to 5Mbps.

Brian Klug went over LTE in depth in our launch articles on the topic. I don't have too much to add but in using the Galaxy Tab 10.1 on Verizon's 4G network here are some thoughts:

1) Performance is amazing. It's like having great WiFi access anywhere you go. In fact, prior to Time Warner's DOCSIS 3 upgrade in my area, Verizon's LTE network is faster than what I used to be able to get over cable.
The tablet hardware itself doesn't appear to be limiting performance here. I got similar speeds over a standalone LTE MiFi as I did via the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

2) There's no penalty to using it as a hotspot either, performance remained the same whether I was on the tablet or on a notebook tethered to the tablet.

3) The 700MHz frequency helps signal propagation in a major way. Other than an all-concrete room in my basement I got great speeds regardless of where I was in my house.

4) Occasionally the Galaxy Tab 10.1 would act like it had no network connectivity, despite being in an area with great signal strength. This happened twice, once while using the tablet and once while using it as a hotspot. Disabling then re-enabling wireless connectivity (or the hotspot) fixed the problem in both situations.

Introduction Battery Life & The Best LTE Hotspot?
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  • surt - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    Won't be buying a tablet until I can watch movies in native resolution. The artifacting on all of these tablets is absolutely horrible.
  • Mugur - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    You'll have to wait about one year more, in theory... Isn't iPad 3 supposed to have 2048 x 1536?
  • JasonInofuentes - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

  • pim69 - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    I find it ridiculous to patent something's appearance. We all know that the majority of Computer monitors look the same with black bezels and only the company logo/name on the bezel to make them look different. You could argue all projectors look the same because they all have lenses and a body with buttons. How about toilets? Sinks? Basketball nets? Bags of Milk? They all look the same! Why is it ok for a tech company to get away with patenting something's general appearance?? Next Apple will try to patent the colour White!!
  • dcollins - Tuesday, August 16, 2011 - link

    The Data caps make no sense for 4G.

    If you average 15Mbps, you could theoretically blow through a 5GB limit in 45 minutes. That's the middle tier and a low estimate for average speed.

    WTF is the point of 4G speeds with these asinine data limits? Saving a few seconds in page loading speeds is nice, but streaming HD and large file downloads are the only real applications that <i>need</i> the speed. 5GB gives you what, 4-5 HD Netflix movies?
  • tmensonides - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    I don't get the rectangular design "patent" thing either. Doesn't HP now have some leftover Palm patent to lord over the iPhone's App presentation/home screen and rectangle shape...I seem to remember my old m505, T/X, and Treo having "app screens" that look exactly like the iPhone and a "rectangle shape"...i don't get it it...the whole apple lawsuit about products "looking" the same is one of two reasons (the other being the loss of in-app kindle purchases) that I bought a TAB 10.1 instead of an iPad. Doesn't one of the Apple complaints even complain about the photo gallery icon used on the Galaxy S's? For goodness sake, when MS tried to push the tablet form factor in circa 2002-2004...there were at least 5 tablets that were simple rectangles...maybe a hair thicker but the same idea...

    Holy crap, I should go to legal zoom and start patenting rectangles in .5 mm increments....
  • Mugur - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    It seems that Apple "retouched" the Galaxy Tab 10.1 photos to hide the 16/10 aspect ratio and also showed the App Drawer instead of the home screen...

    Well, so you can still buy 10.1 in Europe, including Germany (in Germany "while supplies last" only).
  • Mugur - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    A friend come with a black 3G model to help him set it up with a data only SIM taken out of an USB modem. With the help of a friendly female operator, I made it work: lucky him the SIM was on an older unlimited data plan and judging by the H+ icon it was connecting at 21.6 Mbps...

    I own a Nook and I've played with iPad /2, Asus Transformer, Moto Xoom and 10.1v... But this tablet is really the best I got my hands on. Trust me, it's worth every penny if you can afford it.... It was already on 3.1 and TouchWiz and it feels just fine with it, although I would probably close most of the widgets.

    A 720p youtube clip was making every monitor I have at home a piece of junk. I tried 1080p and it was buffering a lot, unfortunately, so I couldn't see if the tablet can hold it... The screen at maximum brightness and with eco mode (a sort of second auto mode, but the menu was not in English so I don't know how to translate it) off was jaw dropping, even compared to an iPad 2...

  • piiman - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    actually that is the TouchWiz interface not the app drawer. The reason I got rid of it and use a different HOME is that it looked and acted like the iOS. So unlike the iPhone you can use it or not use it.(but it does look like the iPhone when you first buy one) As for the Tablet I say sorry but to patent a rectangle as your IP is crazy. All these silly patents just adds cost to us. Except now Apple wants to use them to kill the competition. All they are is a way for another company to stop competition and make money off someones else s product. (MS makes more off Android then their own phone) Hell most (like 90+%) are throw out during lawsuits. this alone should tell you something isn't right.
  • piiman - Wednesday, August 17, 2011 - link

    Just to be clear I was referring to the GS phone picture not the tablet but for some reason my post got stuck at the end and not to the post I was replying so it looks like I am talking about the tablet. So don't start flaming me :-) .

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