Sprint iPhone 4S slow data connection speeds infuriate old and new customers alike – UPDATED

John November 6, 2011 3

While Sprint formally acknowledges some complaints, they refuse to admit that there is a problem.

I am a new customer to Sprint, preordered the iPhone 4S on launch day, and love the device – but not the service. I have been following many blogs on this subject and have to add my own experiences to the situation. Many users complain that they have extremely slow download speeds, or none at all, so slow in fact that simply checking email or using Siri (Apple’s Assistant) is just not possible. I have documented my own issues, on average I too see data speeds too slow to do anything. Often my MMS messages fail, Siri complains that it does not have access to the network, cannot check my emails, etc.

I checked the data speeds on both my new iPhone 4S on the Sprint network, as well as my old iPhone 4 that is on the T-Mobile network. I used the same version of the SpeedTest.net app available as a free download on the Apple App Store. The T-Mobile connection uses only EDGE (as the 3G radio is not compatible with their network on the old iPhone 4) yet the download speeds were higher than Sprint’s 3G! That was embarrassing! The fact that it is even comparable is a pretty good sign that there is a problem here.

In this screenshot you can see the speeds on the iPhone 4 using T-Mobile.


In this screenshot you can see the data speeds on my iPhone 4S using the Sprint Network. Interestingly the higher speeds were where I turned off location services. I have some more information about that after the break.


There are a few tips floating around that might help, though they haven’t shown any improvements to me. One thing you could try is to open the Phone app, go to the dialer and dial ##UPDATE# (##873283# for those that need it) and hit call. I am not sure what this does but the common consensus is that it updates the towers that you are using and refreshes your Cell Data IP address. Again, I am not sure that this is true but I did see this on a Sprint support thread and some are claiming that this works. You can also try opening the Settings App and go to General>Reset>Reset Network Settings. I have heard that there is an issue with the Network Settings that come with the phone out of the box, and that this will fix it. Again, this did not improve my situation but others are claiming success.

One theory that is out there is that the iPhone has software in it that recognizes your location and whether you routinely connect to a Wi-Fi access point there. If so, supposedly the phone would then disable the 3g radio, limiting access to either the 1xrtt network (denoted by a small circle next to the Sprint logo) and/or reducing the speeds of the 3g connection. Theoretically this is to force users to access the Wi-Fi networks they regularly use so that they don’t congest the cell data networks. One way to test this would be to go somewhere that you normally do not use Wi-Fi, access the network by loading a webpage with Safari, then go to Settings and turn off Location Services. Then try a new speed test. In my experience, I have seen an increase in speed, especially after waiting about 30 minutes or so between turning off the Location Services and the Speed Test, though this increase is very marginal. In the screenshot above, I did just this.

Apple is also working on a software update that supposedly will help with the decreased battery life that some users are facing. I am hopeful that a solution to the data speed issue will be hidden in there somewhere.

You can follow the discussion at the Sprint blog here. I urge you to comment on this page, this will allow you to follow this discussion as it continues.

I have also found a Petition that was formed against Sprint in an effort to get them to waive the “Premium Data Services” charges for the accounts that are experiencing this issue. If you would like to sign this Petition, simply click here. Also, feel free to comment below on your own experiences, I would love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to follow @Slyppry on Twitter for iPhone related news and reviews!




I just noticed an Apple Update within the Settings app of the iPhone 4s. I installed this 55mb update just moments ago and I have some good news…

I tested the connection speed, both before and after the update, and found that my iPhone is now getting the data 2x as fast!! If you are interested in applying this update, simply open the Settings app on your iPhone, go to General>Software Update and follow the prompts. Be sure to plug in to an AC power source prior to doing so. I would also suggest that you run a speed test before and after… you know, just for grins! You can also update using the old standby and plugging your iPhone directly into iTunes for those that are nostalgic!



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