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Cellular Cornucopia: A Sort of Sprint Holiday Shopping Guide

Posted by WiWavelength, in Author: Andrew J. Shepherd 13 November 2014 · 31,340 views

Samsung Galaxy Note Edge Google Motorola Nexus 6 HTC Nexus 9 carrier aggregation CCA/RRPP
Cellular Cornucopia: A Sort of Sprint Holiday Shopping Guide by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Friday, November 14, 2014 - 7:46 AM MST


'Tis the season for turkey and tablets, pumpkin pie and "phablets." So, whet your appetites, and get ready for a movable feast -- or should I say, a mobile feast.

Welcome to the first annual S4GRU holiday shopping guide. This may be nothing more than a one year tradition. We shall see. But we have definitely fallen behind this fall on publishing articles following FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) authorizations of notable devices headed to or at least compatible with the Sprint network.

Playing catch up, here is a quick rundown on the RF capabilities of the Motorola Nexus 6, Samsung Galaxy Edge, and cellular variant HTC Nexus 9 -- all of which have passed through the FCC OET and been released in the past few weeks or are to be released in the next few weeks.

Not the purview of S4GRU, but all of the processor, RAM, screen resolution, and other specs are already out there on the Interwebs. If you need that info, refer to those sources. Thus, these brief looks at two "phablets" and one cellular tablet will be focused on their tested/projected RF performance -- particularly as that pertains to the Sprint network.

To begin, the Motorola Nexus 6 ends up being the first fully CCA/RRPP compliant LTE handset -- supporting domestic LTE bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 -- and, for good measure, adding in LTE bands 7/13/17 for use in Canada, on VZW, and on AT&T. S4GRU first reported that CCA/RRPP band abundance of the supposed Sprint variant 2014 Motorola X a few months ago, but for unknown reasons, that handset never saw the light of day after it passed through the FCC OET. Its Motorola brother, which suffers from the hormonal disorder gigantism, though, picks up that slack and then some.

Yes, the Nexus 6 represents a gigantic increase in size and price -- a curious decision if there ever was one. But it does appear to hold up its very large end of the bargain in RF prowess, maxing out in the roughly the 20-26 dBm range across all supported LTE bands. That is pretty good performance, particularly for band 41, which appears to enjoy an approximately 3 dBi antenna gain. This projects to be the strong performer that many had hoped for based on Motorola's RF reputation.

Next up, the Samsung Galaxy Edge is truly on the cutting edge. And that refers not to just its curvy edged screen form factor. It is the first North American handset to support band 41 carrier aggregation. See the FCC OET filing table below:

Posted Image

In fact, it is the first North American handset known to support LTE TDD carrier aggregation and intra band LTE carrier aggregation -- rather than inter band carrier aggregation, as we have seen in several AT&T variant handsets this year. That said, it is limited to two carrier aggregation with a maximum total bandwidth of 40 MHz TDD. Three carrier aggregation devices with a maximum total bandwidth of 60 MHz TDD will not make an appearance until sometime next year.

And that is basically the good news. The rest of the news is not as good. The Galaxy Edge supports none of the additional CCA/RRPP bands -- not even bands 2/5, which are just subsets of bands 25/26, respectively. Moreover, the LTE ERP/EIRP is not very impressive. Fortunately, it looks hardly as poor in that regard as last year's VZW variant Galaxy Note 3 -- maybe the worst that we have ever seen in a flagship caliber smartphone -- but it averages just 17-20 dBm max output across bands 25/26/41. And, for reference, that runs about 2-3 dB worse than that of its recent Sprint variant Galaxy Note 4 sibling.

The news could be worse, however. To conclude, just look at the cellular variant HTC Nexus 9 tablet. On the bright side, it, too, is a fully CCA/RRPP compliant device -- bands 2/4/5/12/25/26/41 -- also adding bands 7/13/17 like its Nexus 6 cousin. That band 12 tablet inclusion trumps even all Apple iPads for likely the next year. But the bright side does not extend beyond that in terms of actual RF.

Originally, Google proclaimed the Nexus 9 to be a 3GPP/3GPP2 device. Since then, Google has pared that back to a 3GPP only device -- with the odd inclusion of EV-DO. The latter is almost assuredly yet another proofreading error, as the FCC OET authorization docs show no support for 3GPP2. Furthermore, reports are that the Nexus 9 uses a non Qualcomm baseband modem. Not good -- especially for a device that now rivals the iPad in price.

For those who want the shorthand explanation, the cellular variant Nexus 9 looks to be compatible with Sprint -- but only Sprint LTE. It will have no support for Sprint CDMA2000. Additionally, the ERP/EIRP leaves much, much to be desired, averaging only 15-19 dBm maximum across all LTE bands. We generally expect more from antenna design in tablets because of their added size. However, that is certainly not the case with the Nexus 9.

In summation, if you are making your shopping list, checking it twice, everything new in the Sprint stocking this holiday season is at least partly naughty, nothing entirely nice. Too big, too expensive, too focused on form over function, and/or too weak RF. Take your pick.

Happy Thanksgiving? Or Bah Humbug?

Source: FCC




Well done AJ. I'm starting to feel the holiday spirit!

Disappointing that at least Samsung doesn't seem to care much about good RF performance on a phone.  The S5 seems to be meh, Note 4 similar meh, and the Edge is even worse.  Motorola seems to realize that yes RF performance is important.  Apple, too

I don't care what kind of features a phone has if the rf performance is trash it is worthless. Note edge has more features but overall I think the Nexus 6 will be the better device.

Disappointing that at least Samsung doesn't seem to care much about good RF performance on a phone.  The S5 seems to be meh, Note 4 similar meh, and the Edge is even worse.  Motorola seems to realize that yes RF performance is important.  Apple, too

the s5 actual out performs the nexus 5 in all of my test. I would say overall the galaxy s5 gives me the best LTE performance, the nexus was good, but it was plagued with battery issues, and the best Baseband for me was one I had to flash, the s5 is using stock Baseband.

Disappointing that at least Samsung doesn't seem to care much about good RF performance on a phone.  The S5 seems to be meh, Note 4 similar meh, and the Edge is even worse.  Motorola seems to realize that yes RF performance is important.  Apple, too

 

Even HTC has stepped up their antenna game.

I was at an HTC Meetup in SF earlier this week and their design guys said that the current antenna design in M8 has been in development for about 5 years.  He wouldn't get into specifics, but sounded like most of the M8 took about 6 months, and he didn't deny that earlier versions of the current antenna shipped in products.  

I ORDERED A NEXUS 6 TODAY FOR THE PRICE OF TAXES OF THE FULL COST ON THE EZ PAY PLAN THANKS TO A.J. I was paying $85.00 for unlimited with my Nexus 5 but with the new ez pay I pay 60.00 + 29.00 which is only $4.00 more per month.

 

I was told that the Note edge had CCA roaming capabilities, and almost bought it because of that and the features along side a great screen. A.J. made it clear to me that my best choice was the N6. I should have in in two days I was told at 8:15am today.

I'm going to just go to the store Monday when they likely will have some in.
Kudos to Motorola for being the first to release a true, single-SKU device for North America. I hope other manufacturers follow suit.


I must say that I really like the Samsung Alpha/Note 4 design concept. Feels nice in the hand. Gone is that cheap plasticky feel of devices past. Next hopefully Samsung will pick up their RF engineering to the next level too. Apple and Motorola have proven it's an achievable goal, even with having to contend with a plethora of multiple band support.


Is Sprint supposed to be stocking N6s for display at stores at some point? I stopped by a Sprint store today and didn't see any.

it is limited to two carrier aggregation with a maximum total bandwidth of 40 MHz TDD

What will be the estimated maximum speeds in perfect conditions? DL/UL?

202/14.7

202/14.7

Sweet. I doubt they will (they advertise current Spark max speeds as 60mbps when we know it's more like 90) but they could theoretically advertise being the first carrier to get 200+mbps speeds.

Sweet. I doubt they will (they advertise current Spark max speeds as 60mbps when we know it's more like 90) but they could theoretically advertise being the first carrier to get 200+mbps speeds.

 

Will be hard to do that even with three carrier aggregation of 20+20+20. 

Probably won't see 200+ unless you have 3 unloaded sectors (almost impossible outside a test setting) and a future 3 CA capable device. 

I noticed recently that Republic Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, is going to offer the Moto X second generation. According to the specs [source: https://community.re.../docs/DOC-2138] the version they will sell covers all Sprint Spark Bands [Cellular (Sprint): CDMA/EVDO Rev A (850, 1900 MHz), 4G LTE (B12, B25, B26, B41)]. The question: is there a chance that Sprint might offer this  phone direct? I really want that phone but would prefer not to give up Sprint. Alternately, is there a chance that Sprint would activate this phone.


I noticed recently that Republic Wireless, a Sprint MVNO, is going to offer the Moto X second generation. According to the specs [source: https://community.re.../docs/DOC-2138] the version they will sell covers all Sprint Spark Bands [Cellular (Sprint): CDMA/EVDO Rev A (850, 1900 MHz), 4G LTE (B12, B25, B26, B41)]. The question: is there a chance that Sprint might offer this  phone direct? I really want that phone but would prefer not to give up Sprint. Alternately, is there a chance that Sprint would activate this phone.

 

You are commenting on the wrong article.  S4GRU already covered that 2014 Moto X variant in this piece:

 

http://s4gru.com/ind...pliant-handset/

 

It was destined for Sprint, then scrapped.  Now, whether that variant purchased through Republic Wireless can be activated on Sprint, we have our doubts -- but we are already working on some experiments.  Results to come...

 

AJ