T-Mobile iPhone 5 users get faster HSPA+ speeds via hacked software

Two hackers claim they can boost HSPA+ data speeds on Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 smartphones being used on the T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) refarmed PCS 1900 MHz network.

As reported by the TmoNews blog, unlocked iPhone 5 handsets brought from AT&T to T-Mobile as well as T-Mobile's own iPhone 5 versions received an over-the-air update last month from T-Mobile to enable compatibility with its new LTE network on AWS 1700/2100 MHz spectrum, which was formerly dedicated 100 percent to HSPA+. But in some cases, the update reportedly slashed HSPA+ data speeds achieved on T-Mobile's 1900 MHz spectrum, which was refarmed for use with HSPA+ instead of just GSM.

Two hackers, Joseph Brown with Twitter handle @joe012594 and Sky Zangas with Twitter handle @cooldayr2, said their software rewrite corrects problems caused by T-Mobile's own iPhone 5 update, which set the device's HSPA+ band preference to AWS even on older iPhone 5 models without support for that spectrum. By resetting the preference to the default "auto" setting, an iPhone 5 can find the most beneficial band to use, whether the particular model is PCS only or capable of both PCS and AWS access. On iPhone 5 models that support AWS, the hack should enable them to connect to the strongest signal, whether PCS or AWS, rather than the preferred type dictated by the official T-Mobile update.

The hack is said to enable Release 9 DC-HSPA+ on the iPhone 5, opening the device to an increased amount of bandwidth for better throughput of data even though T-Mobile has not upgraded its network to support Release 9. The coders claim their hack bumps up HSPA+ speeds by 3 Mbps to 8 Mbps on the downlink. According to Brown, T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is capable of Release 8 downlink speed of 42 Mbps and Release 6 speed of 5.76 Mbps on the uplink.

Despite some reports to the contrary, the hack is not designed to boost LTE speeds. "We didn't even re-engineer the LTE," tweeted Brown.

The iPhone 5 fix--available via a downloadable hacked carrier update--does not remove features added by the official carrier update nor does it require a jailbreak, said the hackers. However, it does disable T-Mobile's Personal Hotspot feature.

TmoNews noted that Brown also created a list of instructions for users of jailbroken iPhone 5 smartphones to enable LTE on their devices at the end of March.

T-Mobile said last week that since initiating sales of the iPhone 5 nationwide on April 12 the carrier has sold 500,000 devices.

For more:
- see this TmoNews post

Related articles:
T-Mobile sold 500,000 iPhone 5 devices in less than a month
T-Mobile makes no promises on MetroPCS iPhone, but vows to transition customers
T-Mobile crows of 'gangbusters' store traffic as iPhone 5 goes on sale
T-Mobile launches iPhone assault with installment plan, trade-ins and ad blitz
T-Mobile launches iPhone trade-in program to encourage switchers
T-Mobile kills wireless contracts, will launch iPhone 5 on April 12
T-Mobile's LTE network shows 25 Mbps downloads in early tests