by Josh McDaniel
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Friday, September 11, 2015 - 9:45 AM MDT
As most of nearly the entire world is aware, Apple announced the iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, and a number of other devices earlier this week. Most notably, iPhone 6S/6S Plus debuts 3D Touch, which is an enhanced version of Force Touch on Apple Watch. However, for most S4GRU readers here, there was one burning question that was not answered in the keynote.
As iPhone models have progressed on Sprint from the iPhone 5 in 2012 with Band 25 LTE to the iPhone 5S in 2013 with dual Band 25/26 LTE to the iPhone 6 in 2014 with Triband 25/26/41 LTE, Apple has oft been half to a full generation behind in supporting the latest Network Vision enhancements.
Last year's iPhone 6, for example, did feature the inclusion of Band 41 LTE but not quite full compatibility with CCA/RRPP bands. And Band 41 LTE 2x CA on Android handsets was just a few months around the corner. Well, this year's iPhone 6S includes Band 12 LTE for full CCA/RRPP support and Band 41 LTE 2x CA on Sprint! Now the latest iPhone is fully up to date with all Sprint bands and current technology initiatives that are currently released.
Notable Specs & Sprint Interband 2x Carrier Aggregation
Yes, that's right, iPhone users now get to enjoy 2x Carrier Aggregation on the Sprint network! This will lead to a doubling in B41 performance in Sprint Spark markets that have CA deployed. Up to 150Mbps in the most ideal signal and network conditions.
All you wireless enthusiasts who want to know about radio performance, read further for RF testing information. The rest of the notable specs on the new phones are listed below:
2 GB RAM (just like iPad Air 2)
12 MP iSight (rear) camera with 4K video recording
5 MP FaceTime camera with Retina Flash and 720p video recording
7000 Series aluminum body
Rose Gold color option
Only 1/10 of a cm taller, wider, and thicker than last year's iPhone 6/6 Plus
And now for an RF testing sidebar from S4GRU's technical editor...
As always, the usual caveats about lab testing versus real world performance and uplink versus downlink apply. The figures represent my best averaged and rounded estimates of maximum uplink ERP/EIRP test results provided to the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) in the authorization filings for the device(s).
These ERP/EIRP figures are specific to the A1688 and A1687 models, which are the Qualcomm Snapdragon X7 LTE (MDM9635) Category 6 and CDMA2000 equipped iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, respectively. Separate Band 30 enabled models exist for AT&T, and while those models are disclosed to use the same antenna arrays, they were RF tested separately in the authorization filings, thus may possess different ERP/EIRP figures. So, this data and analysis should not be extrapolated to cover any other iPhone 6S models.
Since this article covers two different iPhone 6S models with two different antennas each, I have put together a table for easier viewing and comparison. (Click to Enlarge)
To provide further analysis, the green shaded cells represent the maximum figures for each LTE band across both handsets and both antennas. As we can see, the LAT -- with one or two possibly anomalous exceptions -- is the primary antenna on both handsets, possessing greater maximum ERP/EIRP and/or higher maximum antenna gain.
Both iPhone 6S sizes look to be at least good to possibly great LTE performers -- especially in their high band output. For the uninitiated, 30 dBm equals a full 1 W. Mid band is good, and low band is at least average. Hopefully, this expected solid LTE performance plays out in the real world and is not compromised by carrier bundle firmware, as some S4GRU users have reported previously.
For a comparison of the two sizes, bigger, apparently, is not always better for RF. Somewhat of a surprise, the smaller iPhone 6S is the superior RF performer of the two. It generally has greater maximum ERP/EIRP and higher antenna gain -- as evidenced by the greater number of green shaded cells. Moreover, the LAT to UAT consistency is much better on the iPhone 6S, with relatively less drop off between the two antennas and always higher UAT maximum ERP/EIRP than that of the iPhone 6S Plus. This means the RF "death grip" loss on the iPhone 6S could be much smaller when it has to shift between LAT and UAT.
And now for the best part, you could win a new iPhone 6S...
S4GRU is in currently in the throes of a Start of Autumn Promotion to help raise money for the site. We are currently planning to raffle off a new iPhone 6S to one lucky winner who donates a minimum of $10 to support the site. All donations go toward S4GRU Sponsor status and future upgrades. However, S4GRU Membership is not required. Click on this link for more details.
It's a Win-Win-Win for everyone! You get to support the leading Sprint/Wireless Enthusiast site on the internet, you get a chance to win a brand new iPhone 6S and your donations count toward Sponsor membership upgrades. Support S4GRU today!