Sunday, September 28, 2008

SingTel’s iFlexi users paying for speed they can’t get

If you’ve signed up for any of SingTel’s iFlexi plans for your iPhone, you’re probably paying for speed that you’re not getting. I’ve run a limited test that shows that an iPhone on the iFlexi plan does not enjoy significantly faster download speeds than an iPhone running on SingTel’s slower Broadband on Mobile plan.

My wife and I both have an iPhone. She’s on the iFlexi Plus plan which offers 2GB of free data transfers and 3.6Mbps download speed. I’m on a Broadband on Mobile 1000 plan which offers 50GB and 1Mbps download speed (this is SingTel’s slowest BBOM plan). I also signed up for the iTwo Plus voice plan. Here’s how the two plans stack up:

iTwo Plus + BBOM 1000                             iFlexi Plus
- $105.35 ($82.93 + $22.42) a mth                 - $95 a mth
- 700 min outgoing calls                                - 500 min outgoing calls
- 500 free SMSes                                           - 500 free SMSes
- 1 Mbps d/l speed                                       - 3.6 Mbps d/l speed
- 50 GB a mth                                            - 2 GB a mth

I’m paying $10 a month more for 200 more minutes of outgoing calls and 48 GB of data more a month. In return, my download speed is capped at 1 Mbps.

My wife obviously has fewer outgoing minutes and much less data she can download without charge, but she supposedly enjoys much faster download speeds. Or does she?

Running the Speedtest app

I decided to see if her download times were much faster than mine. I installed the Speedtest app on both iPhones and ran them simultaneously. (Speedtest is an excellent app that uploads and downloads benchmark files and divides the files sizes by the time it takes to transfer. It’s available for free on the App store.)

This is how I ran the test: both iPhones were placed side-by-side on a table. I hit the Speedtest app on both phones simultaneously and recorded their download and upload speeds. I did this repeatedly over a 15-minute period.

I did this on five occasions at three different locations around Singapore. The first two occasions, I ran Speedtest five times. The last three occasions, I ran Speedtest 10 times.

The results

Here’s a summary of the results:

Round 1: iFlexi is faster 3 out of 5 times. Winner = iFlexi
Round 2: iFlexi is faster 3 out of 5 times. Winner = iFlexi
Round 3: iFlexi is faster 6 out of 10 times. Winner = iFlexi
Round 4: iFlexi is faster 3 out of 10 times. Winner = Broadband on Mobile
Round 5: iFlexi is faster 4 out of 10 times. Winner = Broadband on Mobile

Note that my iPhone, on the slower Broadband on Mobile plan (capped at 1 Mbps), was able to beat my wife’s iPhone (on the iFlexi plan with 3.6 Mbps download speeds) on two out of five occasions.

Another way to look at it is that out of the 40 times I ran the test, the iPhone on the iFlexi plan was faster 19 times out of 40. Which means the iPhone on the BBOM 1000 plan was faster 21 times out of 40.

Note that while I use terms like faster and slower, in reality, the differences were pretty minor. If you actually compare download times, you will see that the difference in download speeds between the two phones is very small. See detailed times here.

No speed boost on iFlexi

This means that my wife on the iFlexi plan is paying for speed she doesn’t get, and on top of that, she is limited to only 2GB of downloads a month.

This is still a pretty limited test. If enough people are interested, I’ll try to organise a test on a much larger scale to see if the same results pan out. Email me at jimmy at if you’re interested in taking part in the test.

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