Best for 4G: Galaxy S6 v Huawei P8 v LG G4

by: Nirave GondhiaJune 1, 2015
1.2K
Huawei-P8-vs-LG-G4-vs-Galaxy-S6-Edge-AA

I often get asked which handset has the best network performance and reliability and usually the answer is Samsung, as for many years now the company has had by far the fastest LTE speeds on mobile devices.

With the change in build from plastic to metal and glass on the Galaxy S6 however, the company was faced with having to redesign its network antennae, so is the performance as good as past Samsung devices? How does it compare to the plastic-clad LG G4 and the metal-built Huawei P8, which comes with Huawei’s own extensive knowledge of mobile networks.

Which of these has the most reliable network connection, including call success rate, antenna strength and 4G Speed Tests? Let’s find out:

N.B. All handsets were tested using the same network – EE, which supports speeds of up to 300Mbps in the London area – and at the exact same time. The results below are based on a sample of 52 tests in 11 different areas spanning a distance of 170 miles.

Network Switch Rate

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One problem with most current LTE networks is that VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) isn’t supported in large parts of the network, meaning handsets need to switch down to a 3G connection when attempting to make a call while connected to an LTE connection. Often, the time taken to locate and switch to a 3G network can result in a dropped call; both, when making a call or receiving a call.

The purpose of this section was to test the handset’s ability to switch from LTE to 2G/3G and vice versa, while also determining which handset remained connected to the fastest network for longest. During our testing, we found the following:

 Galaxy S6LG G4Huawei P8
Average Time taken to switch to fastest network1 minute 48 seconds52 seconds41 seconds
Number of dropped calls when connected to LTE21 dropped calls11 dropped calls6 dropped calls
Time connected to fastest network49 seconds1 minute 3 seconds2 minutes 9 seconds

The network switch rate on the Galaxy S6 is certainly surprising given that past Samsung devices – albeit they were made of plastic – would usually latch onto the best network. The LG G4 certainly performs well but Huawei’s network coverage shone through in testing, with the Huawei P8 switching the fastest and remaining connected to the best network for longest.

Antenna Strength

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This section tests how strong the antennae performance on each smartphone actually is. To test the antenna strength, we used the figures reported in the Settings > About Phone > Status screen. A signal rating of -60 dBm is recognised as near perfect while anything above -110 dBm is considered call-dropping quality.

Our testing shows that:

 Galaxy S6LG G4Huawei P8
Average antenna strength-91 dBm-74 dBm-62 dBm
Ratio of average connection (3G:LTE)4:11:51:8
Occurrences of zero signal (out of 52 tests)1333

The Galaxy S6 again fails to excite here, with the handset often not even connecting to LTE. Considering that this particular unit may have been faulty, we decided to test with an alternate handset and found similar levels of performance: the second Galaxy S6 was on average 6 dBm better than the first handset and not enough to warrant the first unit as faulty.

The LG G4 again performs relatively well, with a relatively strong network antenna, but the Huawei P8 is again the best (and this time, by far).

LTE Speed Tests

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Now to the final section and probably the most interesting: superfast LTE speeds. This was a simple test to conduct; each handset was using the latest version of Ookla’s SpeedTest application and was connected to 4G.

Our testing found:

 Galaxy S6LG G4Huawei P8
Average speed test: download50.03 Mbps53.37 Mbps58.31 Mbps
Average speed test: upload15.69 Mbps18.38 Mbps20.04 Mbps
Fastest LTE speed recorded:78.39 Mbps88.46 Mbps91.44 Mbps

The results were very surprising, given that the Ascend P7 was slower than both the LG G3 and the Galaxy S5. The G4 is better than the G3 thanks to the addition of Cat 6 support and the Huawei P8 is a marked improvement over the Ascend P7, with Huawei’s network knowledge really shining through thanks to the dual antenna system.

The Galaxy S6 tests showed that the handset is significantly slower than the Note 4 and Galaxy S5, despite the newer internal hardware and LTE Cat 6 support (which the Galaxy Note 4 also has). The Galaxy S6 also failed to latch onto 4G+ (Cat 6) – which offers downloads speeds of up to 300Mbps – and was instead limited to Cat 4, which offers a maximum download speed of 150Mbps.

Conclusion

Looking at all the tests and the various results, I think it’s safe to say that the Huawei P8 is the best handset for LTE, while the LG G4 comes second and the Galaxy S6 is significantly further back. Samsung’s adoption of metal and glass certainly worked for most parts of the handset but the network antenna seems to have suffered as a result of the switch, which could be expected given the problems others have had with metal builds.

With the G4, LG have made the antenna stronger than the G3 and the result is much better performance overall. The G4 is certainly impressive in holding onto a network connection and with Cat 6 support, the maximum download speeds have also vastly improved. The dual antenna system on the Huawei P8 clearly prevents any antenna-gate issues – where holding the handset the wrong way can affect your signal – and the handset can intelligently switch between the two antennae, depending upon which is the strongest.

Now read the reviews:

Huawei P8 Review
LG G4 Review
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Review
Samsung Galaxy S6 Review

What do you think? Is LTE performance and network resilience important to you? Let us know your views in the comments guys!

  • Zami

    Huawei is one of largest Telecomunication company .
    They make communication equipment and so , when it comes to connectivity they are fantastic .
    As much as I know , even EE’s network is made by Huawei .

    • das

      is that why EE is shit then ?

  • NamelessStar

    another reason for me to like LG G4 less dropped calls and better signal, seems like the glass has the same effect on the S6 as it did on the iphone 4.

  • Todd Martineau

    This is such an awesome story – really great to see some testing and data here!!! Not to be too greedy but I would love to see more devices included in this test and more tests of this kind performed too. Thank you for this info!!!

    • Glad you liked it, we’ll keep your thoughts in mind for future features :)

    • helenjs

      Awesome post, thanks for share

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    • Jesse Wood

      Many more devices like maybe a few droids on Verizon vs each other and the g4 for a base line

  • Trysta

    To echo others this is a great idea for a story. I would love to see this sort of comparison done on a regular basis and for other carriers (especially in the US). Network issues are very seldom mentioned in reviews but can be a deal breaker for some phones. Thanks!

    • Glad you liked it, we’ll keep your thoughts in mind for future features. While I can’t personally test US carriers, I’m sure one of our awesome team can!

  • michael sanchez

    I have been complaining about the same stuff even had them replace the phone. Same problems.

  • Lots of people on Digital Spy have found the Galaxy S6 disappointing signal and data speed wise too.

    I think the P8 has the different antenna design that comes at the cost of 5GHz Wi-Fi.

    • Yep the P8 antennae design is worth the cost of 5GHz. The issues with the S6 are unsurprising, would have expected Samsung’s first device with new build to have some network issues, I’m just surprised they’re not larger!

  • Nova G

    Huawei is the best in LTE

  • Jj

    It’s amazing after 2 months of having the galaxy s6 how much i regret not waiting for the G4. This article FINALLY puts the HORRIBLE SPEEDS of my gs6 into perspective and all the while i almost considered switching carrier’s it’s been that bad! I’ve always been a faithful Samsung fan and was so excited by the latest build…. but after screen rotation issue’s and my phone CONSTANTLY being connected to 3g…. i couldn’t be more disappointed!

  • I think either LG G4, or none at the moment till prices drop. No reason to pay for S6´s metallic case which will never be seen in a protective case, whereas LG G4 has an excellent camera…

    http://www.life6109.com/technology/lg-g4-vs-samsung-s6

  • DJ

    i never knew huawei is monster device :p

  • All look great phones

  • Ami Lni

    Huawei’s main meal is radio frequencies. Phones and tablets are just their dessert. It looks like the P8’s performance will be much better if it had a plastic body instead.

  • Randy Allen

    I would like to see more phones compared.

  • das

    blame your crappy american networks for this LTE voice bullshit ,my s6 works flawless in UK

    • Evangelos Aktoudianakis

      Mine doesn’t :(

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  • Troy McKenzie

    This should be another reoccurring article for all the major phones that come out. This article is EXCELLENT! Wrapped in with an article comparing battery life would make me bookmark your articles more over the ones at http://www.Laptop.com and there tests!

  • Mr Scooty

    Great article please do this often for all new devices!

  • Ascertion

    Thank you so much Nirave for posting this! I hope this becomes a trend. I always judge my cell phone purchases based on cellular strength, so if articles like this takes off, it’d likely force manufacturers to further optimize their antennas.

  • Fifth313ment

    Why don’t you guys update this with more phones like the Note 5 and other new phones?! Maybe test 3G as well and wifi?!

  • User745895 MFG

    Very nice article indeed! And it would have been even better if RF radiation levels would have been included along side the performance values. Are there any chances to see something like that in the future ?? I’m really interested to buy the P8 either way :)

  • Everhard

    Yes yes YES! Would very much love for all review tests to include sort of the same connection tests like this, very good work, guys!

  • HotelQuebec

    Applause but it needs to be more scientific and repeated on other carriers to rule out interoperability issues with carrier equipment.

  • MisterTT

    We need more of this!

  • I wish there were more of these kind of tests, a regularly updated top list would be awesome.

  • Jackson Kumbi

    I own both devices and even before this test it was very clear… Huawei is far head S6 Edge+ when it comes to LTE !!!!!