New report finds that T-Mobile is by far the fastest US carrier with the best 5G network
You know what we haven't had in a while here on PhoneArena? A comprehensive market report based on tests conducted across the US aiming to determine which of the nation's top three mobile network operators delivers an objectively superior user experience in various key scenarios.
All joking aside, you can never be too informed when choosing a new carrier or even just a new phone, and unlike Opensignal and RootMetrics, Ookla wants to help you make the best possible decision as far as both those things are concerned, ranking the fastest individual mobile devices available stateside in addition to the major wireless service providers.
Six categories, one big winner
Starting with the carrier war, it feels important to point out that a couple of Q2 2021 contests are too close to call, not unlike the same battles from the year's first three months.
In median network latency, for instance, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are completely deadlocked, at 33 ms, after the former two players edged out the third by a single millisecond in Q1, while the three's 5G consistency scores remain statistically tied.
When it comes to overall cellular consistency, however, Magenta has a big enough advantage over Ma Bell to be declared the category's sole winner, and said lead is actually even more impressive when measuring median download speeds, 5G performance, and of course, 5G availability.
Keep in mind that 5G availability in Ookla's interpretation represents the percentage of users with 5G-enabled devices who are in fact capable of spending "the majority of their time" connected to a modern signal rather than said signal's mere geographical coverage.
Incredibly enough, T-Mo absolutely crushes its rivals from that particular standpoint, essentially rendering AT&T's bombastic arguments from yesterday moot with a towering 69 percent 5G availability score.
While not quite as massive, the "Un-carrier's" general speed and 5G performance advantages over AT&T and Verizon are certainly comfortable enough to support all those analysts and industry pundits that predicted T-Mobile's reign for years and years to come after last year's Sprint takeover.
Samsung and OnePlus are sharing the device spotlight
If you remember Ookla's previous quarterly report, you probably also remember the company's surprising conclusion regarding the speediest of the "most popular devices in the US."
We don't know exactly what happened in the last three months, but Samsung's Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (unsurprisingly) leads the latest chart, ahead of Apple's iPhone 12 Pro Max 5G. The slightly older Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G follows in third place, narrowly behind the aforementioned silver medalist and less than half a megabit per second ahead of the iPhone 12 Pro 5G in median download speeds.
While the OnePlus 8 5G may have disappeared from the top five for fairly obvious reasons, no longer qualifying as one of the most popular smartphones stateside more than a year after its commercial debut, the company's hardcore fans will undoubtedly be disappointed to see the Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G wrap up the Q2 2021 chart instead of the OnePlus 9 or 9 Pro 5G.
That being said, OnePlus is still the number one mobile device manufacturer for US download and upload speeds, handily beating Samsung, Apple, LG, and Google by... selling far fewer older and non-5G-equipped models.
Although we'd definitely recommend you take into consideration more factors than download and upload speed results before deciding what to buy next, the Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro Max just so happen to be some of the best phones you can own right now.
Meanwhile, it's obviously even harder to agree on the best US carrier for the vast majority of consumers, but T-Mobile also comes out on top in the largest number of the country's 100 most populous cities as far as speeds are concerned, beating AT&T 29 to 20, so it's becoming pretty clear what your safest bet is if you're considering ditching Verizon, for instance.