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(UPDATED) A short time from now in a Galaxy not far away...

Posted by WiWavelength , in Author: Andrew J. Shepherd 27 March 2013 · 30,193 views

Sprint Samsung Galaxy S4 FCC OET
(UPDATED) A short time from now in a Galaxy not far away... by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 10:10 AM MDT


Update: The Samsung review embargo has been lifted overnight, and Galaxy S4 reviews are being published around the Web today. Thanks to one of our favorite, highly thorough reviewers, Brian Klug at AnandTech, we can confirm that the Galaxy S4 follows the recent HTC One in providing a removable micro-SIM. So, while two data points do not necessarily a trend make, the One and Galaxy S4 do suggest that removable SIMs for Sprint LTE handsets are here to stay.

Arguably the most hotly anticipated handset of the year, rivaling even the next iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 in its Sprint variant popped up in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database late yesterday, meaning that the next Galaxy is now authorized to operate in the US and is likely just a few weeks away from a Sprint street date. Not a revolutionary overhaul of the very successful Galaxy S3 platform of last year, the Galaxy S4 maintains a strong family resemblance to its older sibling but does generally and for Sprint specifically add a number of evolutionary enhancements, such as a larger 1080p display, world roaming capability, wireless charging cover functionality, and some transmit power increases.

Thus, adding to S4GRU's long standing series of articles on the FCC OET authorizations for the HTC EVO 4G LTE, Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Photon Q 4G, LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy Note 2, and HTC One is our run through of the RF capabilities of the Galaxy S4:
  • 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 bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850)
  • GSM 850/1900
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • 802.11n MCS index 7, 40 MHz carrier bandwidth
  • 802.11ac MCS index 9, 80 MHz carrier bandwidth
  • SVLTE support, including SVLTE and simultaneous 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi tether
  • RF ERP/EIRP maximum: 25.39 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 850), 23.25 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900), 24.62 dBm (CDMA1X/EV-DO 800), 22.83 dBm (LTE 1900)
  • NFC antenna integrated into battery cover
  • CDMA1X/EV-DO Rx antenna diversity
  • Antenna locations: (see FCC OET diagram below)
  • Simultaneous transmission paths: (see FCC OET diagram below)
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Breaking down the RF specs, honestly, the Galaxy S4 may come across as a disappointment to many. That is primarily, though, because the reality could hardly live up to the expectations.

First, the Galaxy S4 does not support band 26 LTE 800 nor band 41 TD-LTE 2600. Reports are that Sprint will not release any dual band LTE devices and will skip straight to tri band. Those devices, however, are still at least six months off, so like all Sprint LTE devices before it, the Galaxy S4 is limited to band 25 LTE 1900 on the native Sprint network.

Additionally, the Galaxy S4's band 25 LTE 1900 is limited to 5 MHz FDD bandwidth. This seems to be largely a Samsung quirk, as Sprint LTE devices from other OEMs are tested and authorized for 10 MHz FDD (or greater) as well. That being said, this will likely be of no consequence, as all Sprint LTE FDD deployment for at least the next several years is apt to remain based on 5 MHz FDD carriers.

Also, unlike the recent HTC One, the Galaxy S4 does not appear to be particularly optimized for the Sprint LTE network. Using the FCC OET authorization documents, we can gauge a device's RF prowess by examining its maximum transmit ERP/EIRP and at what frequency that max occurs. This is by no means a perfect simulacrum for both transmission and reception, but we can say that Galaxy S4 LTE is at its max RF wise in the traditional PCS A-F blocks, not the PCS G block 1912.5 MHz center frequency where Sprint is deploying its initial LTE carrier nationwide.

Staying on ERP/EIRP discussion, the Galaxy S4 looks to be a rather strong performer on roaming CDMA1X/EV-DO 850 and the now being deployed Sprint native CDMA1X 800. Both show quite high ERP. On the flip side, the EIRP for CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 is good, too, but oddly less than the ERP of the CDMA2000 airlinks below 1 GHz that enjoy significant propagation advantages. With most other handsets, the transmit power relationship is reversed, CDMA1X/EV-DO 1900 transmit power being greater to compensate for its greater path loss.

Furthermore, ERP/EIRP was tested with both the standard battery cover and the wireless charging cover. A definite caveat, the wireless charging cover reduces ERP/EIRP by up to 6 dB. Most likely, the induction coil in the wireless charging cover absorbs some of the transmitted RF, thus reducing the radiated power. For some users, the convenience of wireless charging may outweigh the hit to wireless performance. But S4GRU cannot generally recommend wireless charging due to its inefficiency (much power is wasted as heat) and detriment to RF.

As for simultaneous voice and data, the Galaxy S4 does support SVLTE but is the latest in a long line of Sprint LTE handsets now to forgo SVDO. Realistically, this comes as no great surprise, as we have not seen SVDO capability in any new handset since last summer. Either this is a limitation of the Qualcomm MDM9615 baseband modem that has become standard equipment or SVDO is no longer a strong priority as Sprint LTE coverage grows weekly. Regardless, CDMA1X and EV-DO share a transmit path (indicated in the FCC OET diagram above); hence, simultaneous CDMA1X voice and EV-DO data is not supported.

As S4GRU has reported in the past, the FCC OET authorization documents are not required to disclose world phone capabilities because those bands are not in use in the US. However, the presence of GSM 850/1900 and W-CDMA bands 2, 5 (i.e. W-CDMA 1900/850) is strongly indicative of the inclusion of international roaming capabilities, too. Indeed, other outlets are reporting that all variants of the Galaxy S4 include at a minimum quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900 and W-CDMA bands 1, 2, 5, 8 (i.e. W-CDMA 2100+1900/1900/850/900) -- the latter supporting DC-HSPA+ on the downlink and HSUPA on the uplink. While we cannot confirm these reports at this time, they certainly do seem plausible. What also remains unconfirmed at this point is the SIM situation: embedded or removable. As soon as this info comes to light, we will update the article.

Source: FCC




Just saw and held the s4 yesterday. Its a solid feeling device when comparing to the s2 and s3. Played with it a little. Interesting to see how the HTC one and galaxy s4 hold against each other. Personally I'm favoring the HTC one due to their sense ui over touchwiz.
For comparison sake, was the GS3 or GN2 optimized for the PCS G Block LTE?
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WiWavelength
Mar 28 2013 10:43 AM

For comparison sake, was the GS3 or GN2 optimized for the PCS G Block LTE?


Great question.

The Galaxy S3 was "optimized" in that its highest EIRP was at Sprint's PCS G block LTE 1900 center frequency. The Note 2 was not; in fact, its LTE EIRP was worst in the PCS G block.

So, take that for what you will...

AJ
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TheForce627
Mar 28 2013 11:09 AM

Great question.The Galaxy S3 was "optimized" in that its highest EIRP was at Sprint's PCS G block LTE 1900 center frequency. The Note 2 was not; in fact, its LTE EIRP was worst in the PCS G block.So, take that for what you will...AJ

what about it compared to the gnex?
Then to further add to the confusion when comparing the Note2 and S3 side by side with debug screens on, I found the Note2 to acquire and hang on to a usable LTE signal longer than the S3 would. Case in point I can stand in one location with the S3 and Note2 on the table and cycle airplane mode on both phones the Note2 would pick up LTE and use it when the S3 would only EVDO. The difference was minimal but yet noticeable if you were looking.
Hopefully the Note 3 fpr this year, the EIRP will have the CDMA/EVDO 1900 be a higher value than the EIRP at CDMA 800 and that the EIRP at LTE 1900 G block to be higher than the A-F blocks.

Then to further add to the confusion when comparing the Note2 and S3 side by side with debug screens on, I found the Note2 to acquire and hang on to a usable LTE signal longer than the S3 would. Case in point I can stand in one location with the S3 and Note2 on the table and cycle airplane mode on both phones the Note2 would pick up LTE and use it when the S3 would only EVDO. The difference was minimal but yet noticeable if you were looking.


I'd think the key here is that we're looking at RF output, not RF reception in these numbers.
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newgroundsguru
Mar 28 2013 12:30 PM
I think at this point im still leaning toward the HTC One. I have not liked Samsung devices in the past and i really want to take full advantage of sprints LTE network.
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WiWavelength
Mar 28 2013 12:45 PM

what about it compared to the gnex?


As a joke, I would say that the Galaxy Nexus is not "optimized" for anything. It is too much of a Frankenstein phone cobbled together from lesser chipsets.

But, in all seriousness, it does have its lowest measured EIRP at Sprint's 1912.5 MHz LTE center frequency.

AJ
really hoping the UICC isn't embedded...
What is the best Sprint World Phone for this summer?
Am I really the only one who tethers there phone quite a bit and receives phone calls? I guess the real inconvenience is that if I'm tethered to my laptop for work, I need to VPN and therefore a data disconnect results in a cycling of VPN for me. But, SVDO has been SUPER clutch on the HTC EVO 4G LTE. I don't know what I would do without it. (Still in a market that is applying for permits for LTE)...
Fantastic break down. I'm disappointed in the lack of SVDO for the S4 as Madison won't see usable LTE for quite some time, I'd guess. I really don't want to get the HTC One because no removable battery and no expandable storage......grrrr.....tough decisions. I'm just hoping this X phone has merit and Google will shock us all with something amazing and usable on Sprint with LTE (but I'm not holding my breath). And as much as I think the idea of wireless charging is nice, I didn't realize the signal took a hit because of it. However, world roaming (assuming there's a sim in there??) would be very nice addition as I find myself overseas quite often these days.
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jamesinclair
Mar 28 2013 08:04 PM
mmark27, Im in the same boat, I wont even look at a phone without removable battery. Also news to me that the wireless charging impacts the signal - something Im glad to learn.
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Fifth313ment
Mar 28 2013 08:36 PM
Great article bro!

So as far as bands can you give me a quick rundown on which device (HTC ONE vs SGS4) would be the better RF performer by band? I'm sure many are dying to see how they stack up band by band vs devices.

Thanks in advance,

5th
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Fifth313ment
Mar 28 2013 08:40 PM

I think at this point im still leaning toward the HTC One. I have not liked Samsung devices in the past and i really want to take full advantage of sprints LTE network.

I really want the HTC ONE as it looks amazing and I love the stereo speakers and aluminum design. Also I love Sense! However the battery on my EVO LTE is already degrading pretty fast and the non-removable battery and microSD card have really killed it for me. I could even live without the microSD but the removable battery is a serious issue. When I retired my OG EVO I bought a new battery on Amazon and it was back to running near original from that day. I can't say the same for the EVO LTE without sending it in for a new battery, which I will never do.

5th

I really don't want to get the HTC One because no removable battery and no expandable storage......grrrr.....tough decisions.


I used to have the same opinion in favor of a microSD and removeable battery, but honestly, I have the 32 gig S3 now - I have absolutely nothing on my 32 gig SD card and I've NEVER removed my battery. I've had my phone since it was released.

I passed on the HTC Evo LTE because of its 1 gig of RAM. The HTC One looks to be worthy of me going back to HTC. Sense 5 will be the deciding factor.

Just my two cents.... each person's needs are different.
I just want the one which will have better reception for voice calls... and we won't know which one (htc one, s4) will be better at that until they are released. Screen brightness is also a concern of mine (I work outdoors), but from review videos I've seen on youtube it seems the s4 is winning in that regard.
Btw. Love the title. :-)
Any news on a removable sim?
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WiWavelength
Mar 29 2013 10:10 AM

Any news on a removable sim?


Did you read the end of the article, which we published only 24 hours ago?

AJ
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Fifth313ment
Mar 29 2013 10:33 AM

Did you read the end of the article, which we published only 24 hours ago?AJ

AJ, could you give a quick reply to my 1st post above based on white paper specs (HTC ONE vs SGS4)? Thanks,

5th
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WiWavelength
Mar 29 2013 10:49 AM

AJ, could you give a quick reply to my 1st post above based on white paper specs (HTC ONE vs SGS4)? Thanks,5th


I am an educator by profession, so if you will, let me lead you in the right direction, rather than just give the info to you.

You (or anyone else) can easily do the comparison yourself. Just check each ERP/EIRP figure posted in the Galaxy S4 article above against the corresponding figure posted in my HTC One article:

http://s4gru.com/index.php?/blog/1/entry-342-all-for-htc-one-htc-one-for-all/

That said, keep in mind a few complicating factors.

The FCC OET data reflects maximum transmitted power only, not received power. Higher/lower transmitted power may suggest better/worse overall RF performance, but what the numbers suggest does not always bear out in real world use.

Also, the HTC One uses two separate antenna arrays (antenna 0 and antenna 1), while the Galaxy S4 ostensibly does not. On paper, that endows an iPhone like advantage to the HTC One. However, again, we really will have to wait to see how the dual arrays perform in the field before we make any solid conclusions.

AJ
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Kevster1321
Mar 29 2013 12:13 PM
does the S4 roaming match up to what softbank uses in japan
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WiWavelength
Mar 29 2013 12:25 PM

does the S4 roaming match up to what softbank uses in japan


Nothing in the FCC OET documents concerns international roaming, so it is impossible to say with any certainty. However, as I stated in the article, the presence of GSM/W-CDMA capability for domestic bands also implies the presence of GSM/W-CDMA for international bands.

Now, Japan has never had GSM. But it does have W-CDMA. And SoftBank operates a band 1 W-CDMA 2100+1900 network. Thus, as long as the Galaxy S4 supports band 1 W-CDMA, then, yes, it will be compatible with SoftBank's 3G network.

AJ

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