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The SoftwareSerial class has the available() method, which returns the number of characters that have been already received but not yet read. This is very similar to what the standard Serial.available() method offers. There is an interesting difference, though. A call to SoftwareSerial.available() is significantly slower than a call to Serial.available(). We will look for the deeper reason of this strange behavior and I will show you three ways how to fix it.

EDIT: The problem will vanish with Arduino version 1.8.17

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