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Even More Guardians of the Samsung Galaxy

lilotimz

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by Tim Yu and Andrew J. Shepherd

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 1:20 PM MDT

 

On the heels of the first of the late summer/early fall flagship handsets that S4GRU reported on two weeks ago, a second group of superheroes has appeared. And both of these new handsets are destined to be the size of a galaxy. So, take note, and stay on the edge of your seats.

 

Last week, Samsung started certifying what is presumably its next go round of devices for US wireless operators -- the Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ -- with variants pointed toward T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and USCC popping up in the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database. Yesterday, Sprint's models joined the FCC authorizations of the rest under the FCC IDs A3LSMN920P, which expectedly is the Galaxy Note 5, and A3LSMG928P, which presumably is the Galaxy S6 Edge+.

 

A quick glance at the RF Exposure reports identifies the supported LTE bands:

  • Band 2 (PCS A-F)
  • Band 4 (AWS)
  • Band 5 (CLR 850)
  • Band 12 (Lower 700 A-C)
  • Band 25 (PCS A-G)
  • Band 26 (ESMR 800 + CLR 850)
  • Band 41 (BRS/EBS 2600)

...along with the standard CDMA band classes:

  • Band Class 0
  • Band Class 1
  • Band Class 10

...and GSM/W-CDMA bands:

  • GSM 850/1900
  • W-CDMA Bands 2/5

World roaming capability -- including GSM 900/1800 and W-CDMA band 1, possibly other W-CDMA and/or LTE bands, too -- is likely on board. But FCC OET authorizations are not required to document non US bands.

 

Carrier Aggregation Is A Go

 

Following the the presumed 2015 Motorola X flagship authorization a few weeks back -- and that was the the 7th Sprint device to be officially certified for B41 2x Carrier Aggregation (2x CA) -- these two Samsung Galaxy handsets will be the 8th and 9th devices to be officially certified for 2x CA. All join the ranks of the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, LG G Flex 2, LG G4, and HTC One M9.

 

Some, though, may be disappointed that the two Samsung devices were not certified for 3x CA like the GSM/W-CDMA/LTE model for T-Mobile and AT&T, while the other CDMA carrier variants for Verizon and USCC are only certified for 2x CA as well. So, it is likely Samsung had to switch out the baseband modem for a Qualcomm category 6 one for CDMA compatibility -- whereas Samsung may have opted for its own category 9 modem in the GSM/W-CDMA/LTE models.

 

Now, to add some RF ERP/EIRP analysis from S4GRU's technical editor...

 

We will dive straight in to the numbers. Of course, all of the usual disclaimers about lab testing versus real world performance and uplink versus downlink apply. The figures represent our best averaged and rounded estimates of maximum uplink ERP/EIRP -- with band class 10, band 25, band 26, and band 41 receiving heavier weighting toward uniquely Sprint frequencies or configurations.

 

Samsung Galaxy Note 5:

  • Band class 0/10: 21 dBm
  • Band class 1: 19-20 dBm
  • Band 2/25: 18-21 dBm
  • Band 4: 21 dBm
  • Band 5/26: 17-20 dBm
  • Band 12: 16 dBm
  • Band 41: 17-18 dBm

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+:

  • Band class 0/10: 22 dBm
  • Band class 1: 22-24 dBm
  • Band 2/25: 19-22 dBm
  • Band 4: 20-22 dBm
  • Band 5/26: 21-22 dBm
  • Band 12: 21 dBm
  • Band 41: 18 dBm

For comparison, here are the ERP/EIRP figures from S4GRU's FCC OET Galaxy S6 article a few months ago...

Samsung Galaxy S6:

  • Band class 0: 17 dBm
  • Band class 1: 23 dBm
  • Band class 10: 17 dBm
  • Band 2: 22 dBm
  • Band 4: 23 dBm
  • Band 5: 16 dBm
  • Band 12: 21-17 dBm (declining with increasing carrier bandwidth)
  • Band 25: 22 dBm
  • Band 26: 16 dBm
  • Band 41: 16 dBm

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge:

  • Band class 0: 18 dBm
  • Band class 1: 22 dBm
  • Band class 10: 18 dBm
  • Band 2: 22 dBm
  • Band 4: 24 dBm
  • Band 5: 17 dBm
  • Band 12: 17 dBm
  • Band 25: 22 dBm
  • Band 26: 17 dBm
  • Band 41: 19-11 dBm (declining with decreasing center frequency)

 

Frankly, Samsung used to be a leader in RF performance but is showing some continued regression. The Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge in their Sprint variants brought roughly average to below average RF. In particular, band 41 EIRP was weak. That has not changed with these two new Galaxy handsets -- band 41 is still well below the at least 23 dBm that we would like to see. Between the two handsets, the Galaxy Note 5 is the RF chump. Sorry, Galaxy Note fans, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is notably superior in that regard. The Galaxy Note 5 ERP/EIRP is average to below average across the board. Meanwhile, the Galaxy S6 Edge+ is generally a few dB better and actually brings some good low band performance to the table. To reiterate, though, both lack band 41 oomph, and that is a disappointment for Sprint.

 

Next, to echo Tim's sentiments above, the Galaxy Note 5 will not be the first Sprint handset to offer 3x CA capability, though many had predicted that. Both it and the Galaxy S6 Edge+ are using not a category 9 or 10 baseband but a category 6 baseband, most likely the Snapdragon X7 LTE (MDM9635) -- the same as in the Sprint variant Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. This is because Samsung has at least temporarily, probably permanently shifted away from Qualcomm chipsets in favor of in house chipsets. That means Exynos processors and modems. The Exynos processor is airlink technology agnostic, but the modem certainly is not. And Samsung does not have a 3GPP2 (i.e. CDMA2000) baseband, so it still sources that separate chipset from Qualcomm. For further reading on the processor, baseband, RF transceiver, and carrier aggregation issues, see S4GRU's previous FCC OET articles on the Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, and One M9 as well as the G4.

 

Well, that is a wrap. So, are these new Samsung Galaxy handsets Groot or not? Discuss.

 

Source: FCC

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Some, though, may be disappointed that the two Samsung devices were not certified for 3x CA like the GSM/WCDMA/LTE model for T-Mobile and AT&T, while the other CDMA carrier variants for Verizon and USCC are only certified for 2x CA as well. So, it is likely Samsung had to switch out the baseband modem for a Qualcomm category 6 one for CDMA compatibility -- whereas Samsung may have opted for its own category 9 modem in the GSM/WCDMA/LTE models.

Plus it seems like the Note series is always the last Samsung device on the "old" technology i.e. tri-band lte, 2X CA, etc.

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In the real world, does the iPhone 6/6+ offer superior B41 reception vs. say the S6/these newer Samsungs with low ratings?  IP6 is 31.86 db on B41.

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In the real world, does the iPhone 6/6+ offer superior B41 reception vs. say the S6/these newer Samsungs with low ratings?  IP6 is 31.86 db on B41.

 

In the real world, does the iPhone 6/6+ offer superior B41 reception vs. say the S6/these newer Samsungs with low ratings?  IP6 is 31.86 db on B41.

I can't really say anything Sprint-based, but ever since the Galaxy S5 Samsung RF performance has been amazing. Much better than the 5S for sure, but I don't know about the 6.

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