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    October 3, 2012

    Warning for Imported iPhone 5 users on Vodacom (updated)

    According to a post by Mybroadband, South Africans who have imported the new iPhone 5 from overseas where the phone has become available, have been experiencing problems with getting the phone to actually work in the country, that involve issues such as unsupported frequency bands and carrier specific software settings.

    The software in the phones purchased from overseas have carrier specific settings built in which make it difficult, if not impossible, to use on our local networks.

    However, the site does offer some pointers that may be helpful to consumers wanting to buy a new iPhone 5 before it’s launched in South Africa, predicted to be sometimes in early October. All the phones support all the GSM frequencies needed in SA, but the A1428 model should be avoided.

    • The A1428 (GSM model) might support South Africa’s frequencies, but it typically locked iPhones meant only for US and Canadian networks, and supports LTE frequencies of 4 and 17. Avoid.
    • The A1429 (CDMA model) does support the frequency bands to be used in SA but is actually intended for the USA market with the intention of also supporting CDMA related frequency bands. It does connect fine to GSM frequencies though, but also to LTE bands of 1, 3, 5,13 and 25. Works with MTN so far, but Vodacom drops 3G signal to this phone after a few minutes.
    • The A1429 (GSM model) is the model actually intended for markets such as SA. It supports our GSM frequencies, but also LTE bands of 1, 3 and 5. Works fine with MTN right now, but Vodacom drops 3G signal after a few minutes.

    The A1429 (GSM) is available from markets like Hong Kong, which is often used by early adopters in South Africa. The A1429 (CDMA model) is meant for US CDMA based networks like Verizon, but also contains the necessary hardware to connect to GSM networks. It has been found that the A1429 (CDMA) model does actually include unlocked GSM access, so it should theoretically work with SA based SIM cards.

    The issue is that right now the A1429 GSM model has some trouble maintaining a Vodacom 3G connection – there can be many reasons for this, but it is important to realize that Vodacom is still testing this phone in SA (despite them having Nano SIMs available already), and they have not updated the iPhone Carrier configuration file for Vodacom. MTN users are luckier – users who have been cutting their SIM cards to the new Nano size have decent network abilities.

    Update: A Vodacom spokesperson confirmed that they are currently testing the network capability on the new iPhone, this will be ready in time for the launch. Vodacom also confirmed that this is not a Vodacom Nano SIM issue.

    If you have imported an unlocked iPhone 5, please let us know how your experience has been? Have you found a fix for the GSM model’s troubles with Vodacom?

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