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Sprint trying to fix iPhone 4S speed issue


Updated at 5 pm ET

Sprint iPhone 4S customers say they're still getting slow data speeds with their new phones, and the wireless carrier, which has spent big bucks to bring the phone to customers, is reportedly working on a solution with Apple.

User complaints are being shared on various websites, and on several threads on Sprint's Community Forum, including these: "iPhone 4S on 3G data network too slow to be useful" and "iPhone now on the slowest network. post your zip if you have slow data coverage."

An internal Sprint email to employees says Apple and Sprint are working to solve the "confirmed nationwide issue" about the slow data speed, according to The Next Web:

There was no information about what the cause of the issues are or what the expected resolution date might be. The email did contain a reference to a ‘Service Settings’ update, which sounds like it could be referring to the carrier settings file that contains access point info for the carriers.

When we asked Sprint about the problem last week, a representative for the carrier said it was "carefully monitoring the performance of the 3G network. We are looking into a small number of reports of slow data speeds when using the iPhone 4S, however there are also reports showing that Sprint's network is the fastest."

The Sprint rep was talking specifically about a report in Gizmodo, which gave the carrier respectable marks.

Our friends at Laptop recently gave Sprint's iPhone 4S speed mixed grades, compared to AT&T and Verizon Wireless:

The AT&T version of the iPhone is the only one that supports speeds up to 14.4 Mbps on the carrier's HSPA network, while the Verizon and Sprint versions are tied to older and slower EV-DO networks. So it wasn't a surprise that AT&T turned in the fastest download and upload speeds in our three testing locations using the app.

The AT&T iPhone 4S pulled off an overall average rate of 970 Kbps for downloads, and 270 Kbps for uploads. By comparison, Verizon only mustered 380 Kbps on the download and Sprint was even slower at 280 Kbps. Verizon's iPhone 4S consistently offered the slowest upload speeds, with an average of 100 Kbps versus a not-much-better 170 Kbps for Sprint. 

We've asked both Sprint and Apple to comment on their attempts to fix the problem, and will update this post if we hear back.

But comments like those of "jd_pruitt" on Sprint's forums are typical of some of the frustrations:

... when listening to Pandora the stream would stop for a few minutes and start again. Browsing is noticeably slower from my former carrier AT&T. Translation: Yeah, it's pretty lame.

Updated at 5 pm ET: "Overall, iPhone performance on the Sprint network is consistent with our expectations and the rest of our high-end portfolio," a Sprint representative said.

The carrier did "benchmarking of Sprint's iPhone against competitor's iPhones and the testing showed little to no performance difference. We are seeing a very low return rate for this device, but we are watching the reports of speed issues very closely."

Sprint said it does "see opportunities to optimize performance, specifically in high-network capacity areas. We see this as typical optimization work and do not have any specific area of concern. Sprint is committed to providing the best possible experience for our customers. We are listening to our customers and working closely with our partners at Apple to ensure optimal performance of iPhone devices on our network."

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