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T-Mobile HSPA+ 21 vs. HSPA+ 42


Posted on November 22nd, by raymond padilla in Mobile Tech, Today's Specials. 2 comments

Last month T-Mobile released its first phones that support HSPA+ 42 data speeds. To give you an idea of how much of an improvement HSPA+ 42 is over HSPA+ 21, I ran a bunch of tests using Ookla’s SpeedTest.net Mobile app. On the HSPA+ 21 side, I used an LG G2x. Representing HSPA+ 42 was the Samsung Galaxy S II. I ran speed tests 10 times at four different locations. Only one phone was turned on at a time in order to reduce interference. Check out the average results below.

Los Angeles (Union Station)

Ping Upload Download
LG G2x 501 ms 1.696 Mbps 4.846 Mbps
Samsung Galaxy S II 712.8 ms 1.52 Mbps 9.238 Mbps

Los Angeles (LAX Airport)

Ping Upload Download
LG G2x 396 ms 1.146 Mbps 6.082 Mbps
Samsung Galaxy S II 393 ms 0.966 Mbps 10.852 Mbps

Chicago (ORD Airport)

Ping Upload Download
LG G2x 181.4 ms 1.02 Mbps 3.868 Mbps
Samsung Galaxy S II 625.2 ms 1.982 Mbps 5.422 Mbps

Los Angeles (Koreatown)

Ping Upload Download
LG G2x 480 ms 1.434 Mbps 5.592 Mbps
Samsung Galaxy S II 484.4 ms 1.45 Mbps 9.948 Mbps

There are several takeaways here. First, the biggest advantage of HSPA+ 42 is superior download speeds. Secondly, upload speeds and ping rates — both of which are important for an optimal Internet experience — aren’t improved at all and certainly much worse than what LTE networks offer. Lastly, your mileage may vary depending on how well T-Mobile coverage is in your area. I was actually shocked by the great speeds I got in Koreatown when I tested; service in K-Town has sucked for three months and I was used to disappointing speeds of 2.5 Mbps down and less than 1 Mbps up on the G2x.

While there’s certainly a noticeable difference moving from HSPA+ 21 to HSPA+ 42, moving over to AT&T or Verizon LTE is an even bigger difference. I’ve used several Verizon LTE phones that offer upload speeds and ping rates that blow HSPA+ 42 away. High download speeds are great for downloading files (duh), but everyday activities like web browsing, forum trolling, etc. get a huge boost from low ping rates and high upload speeds. For example, the web site you’re currently reading pings more than 10 sources multiple times during a page load; fast pings and upload speeds help decrease load times.

When you have a chance, please let me know what you think of these test results. Anything pop out at you? If you’re currently using an HSPA+ 21 phone on T-Mobile, do the numbers make you anxious to jump to an HSPA+ 42 phone? Also, enjoy this photo of T-Mobile’s Carly Foulkes…who isn’t nearly as cool my buddy Virgin Mobile Sarah Carroll.

T Mobile Carly T Mobile HSPA+ 21 vs. HSPA+ 42





  • SlickyFats

    Speeds for 42 seem a bit slow.

    My Infuse 4G speeds have just been getting better.
    Ping – 116ms
    Up – 1.07Mbps
    Down – 12.16Mbps

    I heard AT&T LTE is crazy fast (15-65Mbps Down) in Dallas area, but it is uncrowded currently.

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