by Andrew J. Shepherd
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 5:37 PM MST
No one is publicly sure what the codenamed HTC M8 will finally be called. HTC One 2, HTC One More, or maybe pull an Apple move and just call it yet again the HTC One. Regardless, all of the big four domestic variants were added to the FCC OET (Office of Engineering and Technology) database today. The last to have its authorizations appear online this afternoon was none other than NM80P6B700 -- the tri band LTE variant undeniably headed to Sprint.
As has been our trend over the past six months, we will still call this a teaser article -- albeit make it more extensive than usual. And we may not do a full RF breakdown in the future. Now that tri band LTE and 802.11ac, for example, are de facto standards among top of the line handsets, while SVDO and SVLTE have been laid to rest, there is less news to report on the RF side.
But we do want to run a brief RF ERP/EIRP numbers comparison among the high end HTC handsets that have graced the Sprint lineup over the past two years because, well, HTC has developed a bit of a reputation among S4GRU members for losing its lead in the RF performance department. Despite its moniker, the HTC EVO LTE was downright poor on LTE, and the follow up Sprint variant HTC One and HTC One max were average at best.
Numbers wise, the HTC M8 looks like a step in the right direction. Per the customary caveats, the available test bench measurements represent only maximum uplink ERP/EIRP, so they do not necessarily reflect the full two way RF performance equation. However, they can provide a decent advance peek inside at the RF proficiency of a handset.
In that regard, the HTC M8 offers some improvements over its predecessors. See the table snapshot below (or link to it on Google Docs):
More and more, OEMs are hiding behind the shroud of confidentiality and not allowing public inspection of the antenna diagrams in their FCC OET filings. HTC now appears to have jumped on that bandwagon. Fortunately, the Sprint variant HTC M8 docs do reveal some antenna gain figures, and those numbers are not always divulged, diagrams or not. Of note are unity 0 dBi or positive 1 dBi antenna gains for >1 GHz bands. Compare these to the -3.5 dBi antenna gain for PCS 1900 MHz in the HTC EVO LTE.
Additionally, though this is not apparent in the table because it lists only maximum figures, the ranges of max and min ERP/EIRP within the various frequencies in each CDMA2000 band class and within the various carrier bandwidths in each LTE band are more tightly clustered, more consistent than usual. This, likewise, could indicate enhanced antenna engineering.
And, finally, the single radio path handsets that have arrived in conjunction with Sprint tri band LTE so far have generally been better RF performers. Will the HTC M8 -- or whatever it gets called -- follow suit? Early returns indicate so, but once S4GRU membership gets its hands on a few samples, field testing in the coming weeks will tell the full story.