Advanced LTE features including 4×4 multiple-input-multiple-output and support for License Assisted Access make a significant difference in user experience, according to recent testing commissioned by Qualcomm and carried out by Signals Research Group.

The testing pitted a Samsung Galaxy S8 with LTE Category 16 capabilities including 4×4 MIMO, against an unspecified, non-Android Category 12 smartphone that “represents the LTE capabilities of some recent non-Android flagship smartphones,” according to Qualcomm. The S8 supported License-Assisted Access use of unlicensed spectrum, while the Cat 12 smartphone did not. Both phones were on a network that “supports 4×4 MIMO on a single LTE carrier with 256-QAM, for peak download speeds of 400 Mbps,” according a Qualcomm blog entry on the testing.

“While the network itself is not a gigabit LTE network, the gigabit LTE device is able to realize better performance than the Cat 12 smartphone,” Qualcomm concluded.

Test scenarios included downloading a mobile game from Google Play; YouTube streaming of 4K video; a Google Drive file download of three videos and video streaming of a 15 Mbps encoded video. The testing also looked at performance differences in good signal conditions versus at the cell edge in terms of the advantages of 4×4 MIMO.

“In excellent signal conditions, the Samsung Galaxy S8 … added up an additional layer of data lanes on top of the existing ones to carry more data on the same amount of spectrum, compared to the Cat 12 smartphone,” Qualcomm said. “At the edge of the cell, the two extra antennas helped lock on to a stronger, cleaner signal from the tower — a technology called ‘4-way receive diversity’ — allowing the Galaxy S8 to receive more streams of data and boosting download speed.”

In good signal conditions, the testing found a 164% faster download speed on the S8 compared to the other phone, resulting in a 66% faster download; and 76% fewer resources being used on the licensed band.

SRG had previously tested the Samsung Galaxy S7 with 4×4 MIMO enabled, versus a second S7 without the feature turned on, and found a 55% increase in speeds. The tests, which used the Accuver Americas XCAL-M drive test solution and tested the devices on T-Mobile US’ live network, found median data rates of 22.8 megabits per second on the device not using the enhanced antenna protocol versus 35.3 Mbps for the device so enabled.

Qualcomm says that there are currently 41 operators in 24 countries testing gigabit LTE, and 16 devices with Qualcomm Snapdrgaon 835 chipsets capable of supporting gigabit LTE speeds, 10 of which are premium smartphone offering. All of those are Android devices, Qualcomm noted.


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