T-Mobile HSPA+ 21 vs. HSPA+ 42
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)
|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)
|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)
|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)
|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.