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Is 5G in South Africa worth the upgrade?

New research from Ookla, the company that specialises in mobile and broadband testing and intelligence, has found that upgrading to a 5G Android handset in South Africa is hardly worth the money.
Image: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

New research from Ookla, the company that specialises in mobile and broadband testing and intelligence, has found that upgrading to a 5G Android handset in South Africa is hardly worth the money.

iPhone users, on the other hand, can expect a big jump in network speeds when they move to a 5G-capable model, Ookla said of it findings.

The company analysed Speedtest Intelligence data from the most popular Android and iPhone devices in the third quarter of 2021 in 12 markets around the world: South Africa, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, China, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US.

The analysis includes data on the five 4G Android devices in each country with the largest number of results as well as the five most popular 5G-capable Android devices. Ookla also compared the iPhone 13 (or iPhone 12) to the iPhone 11.

The company found that the most popular 4G devices in South Africa showed a wide range of median download speeds during the third quarter, from 18Mbit/s (for the Huawei P20 Lite) to 40.7Mbit/s (for the Samsung Galaxy Note10+.

“South Africa’s median download speeds on the most popular 5G devices were among the lowest we saw, from 41.1Mbit/s on the Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G to 67.1Mbit/s on the S21 Ultra 5G.”

There weren’t sufficient samples in South Africa to analyse the iPhone 13, so Ookla compared the iPhone 12 to the iPhone 11. The median download speed on the iPhone 12 was almost twice as fast as that on the iPhone 11 during the testing period.

Many other markets surveyed performed significantly better than South Africa – although that is perhaps unsurprising given that South Africa has not yet allocated spectrum formally for 5G services and deployments in the country remain limited.

Median download speeds on the Galaxy S21 5G in the UAE came in at 285.4Mbit/s, while on the iPhone 13 the media speed was a staggering 485.6Mbit/s. These results were the fastest of all the countries surveyed by Ookla.

Duncan McLeod is editor of TechCentral, on which this article was first published here.

© 2021 NewsCentral Media

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