When buying a smartphone, brand, price, specs, value for money and resale price are only few of the criteria that go through the mind of a potential buyer. One troublesome omission from that list is frequency bands which, to be fair, traditionally weren’t an issue but have become one with the introduction of 3G and 4G in the country.
Why Frequency Band Really Matters?
Well, the selection of smartphones available at online stores has increased dramatically and many stores are offering imported handsets from foreign markets that offer better value for money. However, they are failing to mention their 3G/4G bands and are selling smartphones that don’t work in Pakistan.
In simpler words, there are bands (frequencies) for 3G and 4G technologies — just like radio frequencies — and operators in Pakistan operate their 3G networks in 2100Mhz band only. Now 3G smartphones that doesn’t offer 3G network compatibility in 2100 band will simply not work in Pakistan.
3G smartphones that don’t offer 3G network compatibility in 2100 band will simply not work in Pakistan.
Let’s use an example. The Redmi Note 4G is a smartphone that offers a 5.5 inch screen, 13MP camera, expandable storage and a Quad Core Snapdragon 400 processor. You can get this handset on online stores (we won’t name them for now) for roughly PKR 23,000. It has great specs and a great price point so buying it makes sense right? Not really.
There is one detail these online shopping portals fail to mention. The frequency bands for 3G and 4G supported by the Redmi Note 4G — or at least one version of this phone that is available in market — doesn’t support 3G or 4G networks in Pakistan!
Now we do not know whether this is deliberate misleading of customers or just sheer ineptitude but even when we contacted customer support of a major online store, they assured us that the Redmi Note 4G had LTE connectivity and would work in Pakistan.
It’s a shame that these stores don’t even bother to do research for the products they are offering and shift the responsibility on the customer instead. Just imagine getting your smartphone and finding out that you can’t access 3G or 4G on it. It is also entirely possible that many online stores would refuse refunds citing some bogus excuse like they sell the product as is and they aren’t responsible for ensuring compatibility.
Please note that at least one variant of Redmi Note 4G doesn’t work in Pakistan. While there is a variant that works in Pakistan — as per few friends’ claims — the example we referred above was about an online store that was selling incompatible Redmi Note 4G in Pakistan.
Please note that our focus isn’t about Redmi Note 4G or any other particular handset, but about the fact that not all 3G and 4G phones are compatible with operators in Pakistan and you must do a check before making a purchase.
Make sure that the 3G/4G smartphone you are buying are compatible with 2100Mhz for 3G and 1800Mhz for 4G networks
We want to call out these online stores to stop these shady practices and clearly state if a smartphone has different frequencies than the ones offered in Pakistan. Not doing so is misleading the customers and a poor way to run a business and we won’t hesitate to call them out publicly the next time it happens.
How to Findout the Frequency Bands of Smartphones:
As mentioned above, you should determine the frequency bands of smartphone before making the purchase. You can do this by looking at the specifications of phone given on the box, or by looking for the specs of the (phone that you are buying) on your favourite phone sepcs website, such as GSMArena.
As an example, check out the box of a phone below. It clearly displays the network bands that this particular phone supports. As mentioned above: 2100 for 3G means this phone is going to work in Pakistan.
In addition to this PSA, we have compiled a list of the frequency bands used by 3G and 4G services in Pakistan. Whenever you are buying a smartphone, please make sure that the 3G and 4G bands match the ones we have listed below. Otherwise, high speed internet simply won’t work.