Galaxy S9 Obliterates iPhone X in LTE Speed Tests

With the Galaxy S9, Samsung believes it has one of the fastest phones around. And now it's got the test data to back up that claim.

The testing, provided by third-party firm Ookla, concludes that Samsung's newest flagships offer faster download speeds than other phones — up to 42 percent faster, Samsung says in its summary of Ookla's numbers.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Specifically, Ookla's numbers show that the Galaxy S9 beats the iPhone X's download speed by 37 percent. The latest Galaxy phones are 17 percent faster than Google's Pixel 2.

That actually squares with some of our testing. When we first got our hands on a Galaxy S9+, we used Ookla's app to see how its download speeds compared to the iPhone X's. Running the test multiple times, we logged a download speed of 71.6 Mbps for the S9+, while the iPhone X averaged 48.8 Mbps — a difference of 46 percent. The S9+ downloaded a movie trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 18.8 seconds, nearly 20 seconds faster than Apple's phone.

MORE: Galaxy S9 User Guide: Tips, Tricks and How-Tos

Samsung credits its edge in download speeds to a Category 18 downlink LTE modem. Specifically, the Galaxy S9 uses Qualcomm's X20 modem, which is capable of supporting download speeds up to 1.2 Gbps. The X16 modem in the iPhone X we used in our testing has a 1 Gbps cap.

That said, it's worth taking note of the phones Samsung called out when trumpeting its download prowess. Like the iPhone X, the Pixel 2 is equipped with a modem that has a lower maximum throughput.

That won't be the case with other phones just hitting the market now. The Galaxy S9 uses Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 mobile processing platform, which includes the X20 modem. The just-announced LG G7 ThinQ has the same mobile processor, though, as does Sony's Xperia XZ2. And the OnePlus 6, set to be unveiled this week, is going to feature a Snapdragon 845, too. We plan to see how those phones compare to the impressive network speeds we've seen on the Galaxy S9.

MORE: Use a fast VPN to avoid network throttling 

To be fair, LTE speed is just one aspect of performance. The A11 Bionic processor in the iPhone X is a heck of a lot faster than the Snapdragon 845 processor in the Galaxy S9 when it comes to other tasks. This includes video editing, opening apps and PDFs, as well as synthetic benchmarks like Geekbench 4 and 3DMark.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.