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Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Big enough for everything (except SVDO)

WiWavelength

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by Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Friday, October 5, 2012 - 2:00 PM MDT

 

Earlier this week, the Samsung SPH-L900 authorization filing hit the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database. Judging by the handset's expansive 150 mm x 80 mm dimensions, S4GRU firmly expects this device to be the upcoming Sprint version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 "phablet." In keeping with our previous articles on the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, and yet to be released LG Eclipse, here is an RF focused breakdown of the presumed Note 2's FCC disclosed tech specs:

  • CDMA1X + EV-DO band classes 0, 1, 10 (i.e. CDMA1X + EV-DO 850/1900/800)
  • LTE band 25 (i.e. LTE 1900; PCS A-G blocks)
  • LTE 5 MHz FDD carrier bandwidth
  • LTE UE category 3
  • W-CDMA/HSPA band 2 (i.e. W-CDMA/HSPA 1900)
  • GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/1900
  • GPRS/EDGE multislot class 10 (i.e. max 4 downlink, 2 uplink, 5 total timeslots)
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous Wi-Fi tether (2.4 GHz only)
  • SVDO support absent
  • Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 20.03 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 24.46 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 20.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 28.35 dBm (GSM 850), 25.05 dBm (EDGE 850), 29.44 dBm (GSM 1900), 24.13 dBm (EDGE 1900), 21.41 dBm (W-CDMA 1900), 19.63 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
  • CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
  • Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)

11ghtfs.png

 

Besides the incorporation of GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/1900 and W-CDMA/HSPA 1900 capabilities, the most notable feature of the Note 2 is the lack of SVDO capability. That absence appears to be related to the inclusion of W-CDMA/HSPA, which coexists on a transmit path with LTE. In typical SVDO capable handsets, CDMA1X/EV-DO has one transmit path, but EV-DO has a second possible transmit path that it shares with LTE. That is not the case with the Note 2, as can be seen in the antenna locations and simultaneous transmission paths diagrams:

 

2ynh5xl.png

 

Within each transmission path, only one airlink can be active at any given time. This is a hardware restriction that precludes SVDO but allows SVLTE. Additionally, some other simultaneous transmission scenarios that are technically supported by the hardware (e.g. CDMA1X voice + W-CDMA data) are locked out in software. For all of the possible and permissible simultaneous transmission scenarios, see the included table from the FCC filing:

 

34o28wm.png

 

In conclusion, if SVDO truly was sacrificed in order to include W-CDMA, that is a curious compromise, especially for a handset otherwise geared (e.g. band class 10 CDMA1X, band 25 LTE) specifically for Sprint.

 

Source: FCC

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I've never had SVDO on a device before, so I don't plan on missing something I've never had. Once LTE is live and strong in the next year, I'll be happy with SVLTE as I'm almost always in metropolitan areas that will have strong LTE coverage.

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If it is using the Exynos processor, instead of the Qualcomm S4. I don't think the Exynos supports SVDO on CDMA.

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I'm not a Sprint customer, but I wouldn't really have an issue with no SV-DO at this point. I'd rather have the extra horsepower that comes with Exynos.

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I'm going to assume that this handset also supports GSM900/1800 and UMTS2100 and therefore as for SVDO... given that it does have SVLTE, I would rather take the availability of having fast 3G when using the phone overseas over having SVDO on CDMA if that's the tradeoff here.

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I'm going to assume that this handset also supports GSM900/1800 and UMTS2100...

 

This is a good point. The FCC OET authorization filing is required to disclose only those transmit modes that are licensed here in the US.

 

For a Sprint handset, W-CDMA 1900 capability is mostly useless. It might work for roaming on those turncoats Bell and Telus in Canada, but domestic roaming on AT&T and T-Mobile certainly will be blocked.

 

However, the inclusion of W-CDMA 1900 (band 2) is probably indicative of the inclusion as well of W-CDMA 2100+1900 (band 1), the most commonly deployed W-CDMA band outside of North America. I would not be shocked if W-CDMA 900 (band 8) were also on board.

 

As for the W-CDMA/SVDO tradeoff, that is certainly debatable. Quite likely, greater than 95 percent of the Sprint users who carry the Note 2 will never leave the country during that time. International roaming capability is largely a red herring that preys on what idealistic people think that they might do but rarely ever do.

 

AJ

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Depends on what your definition of "overseas" is. By only having dual band (850/1900) GSM/GPRS/EDGE and single band (1900) W-CDMA/HSPA, this phone is still basically limited to North, Central and South America. In most of Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania the GSM/W-CDMA capabilities of this phone will be useless.

 

If the goal was to make this a world phone, I'm curious as to why they didn't go with quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and at least tri-band W-CDMA. Very odd specs on this phone.

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If the goal was to make this a world phone, I'm curious as to why they didn't go with quad band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and at least tri-band W-CDMA. Very odd specs on this phone.

 

See both GoWireless' and my comments above. The Note 2 is very likely quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and at least dual band W-CDMA 1900/2100+1900, but the FCC OET docs are not required to reflect those other transmit modes because they are not licensed in the US. This is not unique -- it is very typical of many other FCC OET authorization filings.

 

AJ

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If it is using the Exynos processor, instead of the Qualcomm S4. I don't think the Exynos supports SVDO on CDMA.

 

Samsung's Exynos is just a processor, not a full SoC with modem. So, it has nothing to do with SVDO.

 

AJ

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See both GoWireless' and my comments above. The Note 2 is very likely quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and at least dual band W-CDMA 1900/2100+1900, but the FCC OET docs are not required to reflect those other transmit modes because they are not licensed in the US. This is not unique -- it is very typical of many other FCC OET authorization filings.AJ

 

Ah, I see your point. I suppose that only makes sense that the FCC would only test for frequencies licensed for use in the US. Thanks!

 

BTW do the FCC docs offer any clue as to whether the SIM is removable or not?

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It would be hard to go back to no SVDO as you get used to having it. I use it all the time in my car with navigation and when I'm at the movies looking up times and calling at the same time. You don't realize how much you get used to it until you meet someone who can't do it. I mean ATT knew it was a big deal which is why they spent millions of commercials advertising that their network could talk and surf at the same time. But hey to each his own right?

 

Hey Robert what ever happened to the article on all the phone signal quality reviews? I remember you said you were done with the testing but are writing the story. Do you have an ETA? Thanks and keep up the great work!

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It would be hard to go back to no SVDO as you get used to having it. I use it all the time in my car with navigation and when I'm at the movies looking up times and calling at the same time. You don't realize how much you get used to it until you meet someone who can't do it. I mean ATT knew it was a big deal which is why they spent millions of commercials advertising that their network could talk and surf at the same time. But hey to each his own right?Hey Robert what ever happened to the article on all the phone signal quality reviews? I remember you said you were done with the testing but are writing the story. Do you have an ETA? Thanks and keep up the great work!

I use svdo too much now for me to go to a device that doesn't support it.

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I use svdo too much now for me to go to a device that doesn't support it.

 

BT headset or speakerphone?

 

I just wish Sprint would give us a Pre-order and a price point

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Hey Robert what ever happened to the article on all the phone signal quality reviews? I remember you said you were done with the testing but are writing the story. Do you have an ETA? Thanks and keep up the great work!

 

What is the first rule of S4GRU Club? you don't ask about ETAs

What is the second rule of S$GRU Club? YOU DON'T ASK ABOUT MOTHERFRAKKING ETAS!!!

 

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So, for us not so technical people, does this mean that the Note II can't go online while transmitting a phone call? Even when using 4G (if ever available for me)?

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So, for us not so technical people, does this mean that the Note II can't go online while transmitting a phone call? Even when using 4G (if ever available for me)?

 

While on a regular voice call, data access is possible via Wi-Fi or LTE but not EV-DO.

 

AJ

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Maximum RF ERP/EIRP: 20.03 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 24.46 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 20.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 28.35 dBm (GSM 850), 25.05 dBm (EDGE 850), 29.44 dBm (GSM 1900), 24.13 dBm (EDGE 1900), 21.41 dBm (W-CDMA 1900), 19.63 dBm (LTE 1900) Elsewhere I saw something to the effect that 23dBm was a threshold for good ERP. Does that differ with the type of signal?

Is 19.63dBm for LTE 1900 weak?

What about the strength of the various GSM signals? Does Sprint support any of them? Or are GSM signals only a factor if you are traveling out the USA and get a SIM to use the phone say in Europe or Canada or Mexico, or the Philippines?

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Are the key ERPs for Sprint:

20.03 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 24.46 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 20.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 19.63 dBm (LTE 1900).

What about the EDGE numbers? Isn't that also mainly for a GSM carrier? Is Sprint likely to ever support those functions, or are they just there as the device supports them? Would it be possible to unlock those functions, if you decided to switch carriers with the same phone? Thanks for all the useful info above.

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