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T-Mobile LTE rollout and phone options

Discussion in 'T-Mobile' started by dvlucke, Jan 3, 2013.

  1. dvlucke

    dvlucke Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I've all but decided to buy a Nexus 4 when I move to T-Mobile prepaid from VM in about a month, but I'm a bit disappointed that the Nexus 4 doesn't have LTE capability. I know it doesn't matter for now, as Tmo doesn't have LTE, but they're supposed to be rolling it out this year.

    Are there any phones out there that are comparable to the Nexus 4 but also have LTE? I'm also looking at the Note II, but I'd rather not spend that kind of money since I'll be buying unsubsidized. There doesn't seem to be another quad-core phone out there that has LTE.

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  2. eljefe0000

    eljefe0000 Android Enthusiast

    no worries hspa is just as good
  3. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    You won't miss LTE one bit with a Nexus 4.

    Linux user #266351. Android since v1.0
  4. aurora40

    aurora40 Android Enthusiast

    I don't believe there are any T-Mobile phones (or AWS-compatible) that have LTE. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I don't believe the T-Mobile version of the Note II has LTE either:

    Maybe the N4 doesn't have everything you'd ever want in a phone, but what do you see as an available alternative?
  5. dvlucke

    dvlucke Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I guess that was mainly my question. I don't see an available alternative right now, but I was wondering if I was missing something. I'm just concerned about spending $350 on a phone and then watching t-mobile bring LTE to my area with new phone options inside of a year or two.

    It sounds like people's experience has been that HSPA is just as good as LTE regardless of which one is technically faster, so maybe I'm worrying about nothing.
    I know that technology changes so fast you just have to bite the bullet and choose a place to jump in, but I'm wondering if six months from now might be a better time to make that jump when it comes to a high end T-Mobile phone.
  6. aurora40

    aurora40 Android Enthusiast

    Well, there is no smartphone that within a window of a year or two won't be quite obsolete.

    I don't think you'll see another Nexus phone for a year, but in 6 months from other manufacturers, who knows. I suspect there'll be an S4 or something, and some kind of new Evo/One device. I doubt any of them will be priced in the $300-350 range outright though.

    HSPA+ will be available in a larger market than LTE for probably several years or more. The speeds are not as fast as the fastest LTE areas, but are probably on par with the average LTE speeds. You can get >20Mbps over HSPA+ 42, and it likely won't use as much battery while doing it, as LTE requires a separate voice connection.

    If you have to have the fastest connection, maybe you'll want to wait for LTE. But there are still plenty of people on HSPA 14 or 21 devices that get by just fine. For comparison I believe the iPhone 4 is HSDPA 5.6, while the 4s is 14. I think HSPA+42 would be acceptable for a while.

    But I'm one of the people who is glad the N4 doesn't have LTE. I'd prefer a lower cost for the device, and don't want the terrible battery life that seems to be associated with LTE (look at any 4G Verizon android sub-forum). That said, I can't quite bring myself to pull the trigger on an N4 just to get HSPA+42 vs the HSPA+21 of my GNex. :)
    SuperAfnan and dvlucke like this.
  7. dvlucke

    dvlucke Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thats sounds like a pretty strong argument for just getting the Nexus 4. I hadn't thought of the battery issues or that an LTE device would likely cost significantly more than $350

    I know lots of people upgrade their phones every two years or so, sometimes more frequently. But I'm the kind of guy that holds onto a phone for 4 years or more, so I just wanted to make sure something better wasn't just over the horizon.
  8. colnago

    colnago Android Expert

    FWIW, I don't think LTE as a protocol is more taxing than HSPA, as much as a weak LTE signal. I have both at&t and T-Mo (Note 1 and Note 2 respectively), and regardless of technology, whenever I'm in a weak signal area (work) the battery drains faster than in a good signal area.

    Apparently at&t/Samsung feel that 3 out of 5 bars is a good representation for -97dBm LTE/HSPA signals. Unfortunately, my data connections and calls start to fail at these levels... Not to mention the increased battery drain rates.
  9. John Jason

    John Jason Android Enthusiast

    There are a lot more variables involved, making it difficult to provide answers that fit everyone.

    For example, when I got my T-Mobile SGS2 it was one of only two phones that could take advantage of T-Mobile's HSPA+42, which they had just rolled out in my city. At approximately the same time Verizon turned the switch on their LTE here. I regularly beat my friends with Verizon LTE phones in download speeds. Why? Because HSPA+42 is theoretically not quite as fast as Verizon's LTE, but there were so many more Verizon LTE phones out there sucking down the bandwidth that I actually had better speed than they did. It is now a year and a half later and my Verizon friends and I are now closer to par, and both of us have lost a bit of speed.

    Another factor is how far your primary areas (home, work, school) are from towers. If the competition has better coverage in your critical areas, then they will be a better choice for you. And scale this up for those who travel a lot - what is the coverage like in the cities you go to?

    Finally, my (admittedly dim) understanding is that T-Mobile's LTE will be a second generation LTE, that will be quite a bit faster than the LTE offered by Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. But, even if I am right about that, T-Mobile has made no advance notice as to which cities will get it first, nor is there much of a timetable other than "starting in 2013." So again, it is kind of a crapshoot.

    My suggestion is to compare with friends in the areas where you need coverage, that is, friends on all carriers. And badger T-Mobile offices for as much information as they will divulge.
  10. Joshb101

    Joshb101 Well-Known Member

    I don't expect T-Mobile's network as a whole to be fully optimized and going until 2015 when the refarming of Metro's network is complete. That's when you'll see their LTE really start to come into play nationwide.
  11. aurora40

    aurora40 Android Enthusiast

    That's certainly true, but nowhere did the OP ask about changing providers. He asked about waiting for a phone that supports LTE on T-Mobile vs buying one now that does not.

    And maybe the day after he buys his Nexus 4, T-Mobile introduces the first LTE phone and installs the first tower 50 feet from his house. No one can guarantee him an optimal outcome based on future events. But buying an HSPA +42 phone now does not seem like a bad idea based on reasonable expectations surrounding T-Mobile's LTE rollout.

    Supposedly T-Mobile will deploy "LTE Advanced", which is the next generation of LTE, and would be the only real cellular technology that meets the 4G specification. I don't think any commonly available LTE phones on the market support it (but it is backwards compatible), to take advantage of the increased speed.

    There are a lot of unknowns on T-Mobile's LTE. Timeframe, locations (supposedly their upgrade to HSPA+42 was done in a way to make turning on LTE very easy), and the fact that they need to roll MetroPCS into their network.

    But the Nexus 4 is positioned to continue to work the same then as it does now, and it's also a really nice phone with some decent future-proofing (4-core processor, 2GB RAM, HD display, and of course being a Nexus).
  12. aurora40

    aurora40 Android Enthusiast

    It's the fact that your phone still needs to maintain a CDMA or GSM/UTMS connection in addition to the LTE one. LTE is a data-only protocol, and almost no carriers support VoLTE. So to get voice calls, SMS messages, and whatnot, your phone is supporting two connections.

    Maybe I'm wrong about that, I don't own any LTE devices. But I constantly see people complain about battery life on the Verizon GNex (which has a bigger battery than the GSM one), while the GSM device gets pretty great battery life. Though screen time will chew through the battery on most any device.

    The people I work with with LTE devices also claim to get quite a bit more battery drain when LTE is enabled than when it is not (as well as quite a bit more data connection problems). Nothing about it makes me envious of LTE, other than the occasional >35Mbps download speed.

    But for me it is all second-hand info...
  13. colnago

    colnago Android Expert

    My point is that when I'm at home, and my LTE signal is -65dBm and better, my run times are 2-3 times longer (2 days run time). At work, signal is more fragile 11th floor, and batyery may last 18 hrs, when only idle. On the ground floor, my signal greatly improves. I contend that the less dense LTE coverage is the source of the increased drain, per my personal experience. Even though I can get 54Mbps DL speeds in dowtown DC (RFK stadium), the signal strength, and DL speeds significantly drop a few blocks away.

    As far as Verizon, I had the original Droid, no LTE. I took it, fully charged, to my mom's house, 2 miles from my house (-67dBm and 2 days battery life), where it struggled to maintain a singal higher than -100dBm. The battery completely depleted in 4 hours with the signal at this level. This in a town with 5 Verizon stores, and 2 corporate buildings in the Balt/DC corridor (decent network coverage).
  14. aurora40

    aurora40 Android Enthusiast

    Yeah, I don't know if that's something with CDMA technology, or just something that's gotten better with newer Android versions. My Triumph on Sprint (Virgin Mobile) would do the same thing. A few hours of no signal and it would burn through the battery and be blazing hot.

    My GSM Galaxy Nexus doesn't lose any noticeable battery life after a few hours of no signal.

    I don't know if that's just a better phone vs a crappier one, better Android (ICS/JB vs Froyo), or GSM vs CDMA.

    It could be that's the cause of the perceived LTE drain, or maybe the fact that it has two connections, but the reality still seems to be that most people experience shorter battery life with LTE devices.
  15. colnago

    colnago Android Expert

    Phone, network, distance and obstructions between phone and tower, etc, they all play a part in reception and battery use. Regardless of the factors, if my signal is less than -80dBm, be it CDMA, GSM, or LTE, my battery does not last as long.
  16. MT Rotor

    MT Rotor Android Enthusiast

    Dial *#*#4636#*#* and you got the option for LTE
  17. thebryceee

    thebryceee Android Expert

    T-Mobile's Note 2 is LTE ready, T-Mobile just needs to push out a software update. They'll start producing LTE compatible S3's.

    I have a Nexus 4 and I'm hoping they'll recertify with the FCC to be LTE compatible since it has the modem and amplifiers needed to run on the AWS band for T-Mobile. I've heard enabling LTE through the testing menu breaks Google Now, which I use daily.

    My download speeds are just as fast as LTE on HSPA+ 42 but upload speeds can get pretty low.
  18. As of right now the Note 2 is the only T-Mobile device that will support their upcoming LTE network. Vegas and Kansas City are expected to go Live with LTE within a month. I'm assuming that this means that T-Mobile will push out the software update to unlock the LTE of the Note 2 for use pretty soon as well. T-Mobile also announced that they are going to release an LTE Galaxy S3 soon too.

    T-Mobile devices released this year will all likely include an LTE radio.

    As for the concerns about battery life on LTE, I can't speak for any Android devices but I do have a line on Verizon with an iPhone 5 and the battery is very strong. Easily lasts all day with LTE.

    On another note I also assume Apple or T-Mobile will release an iPhone carrier update for LTE on that device within the next few months too.
  19. chong67

    chong67 Android Expert

    Will the new phone with LTE use 4G if the LTE is not available?
  20. Joshb101

    Joshb101 Well-Known Member

    Of course. The phones are always going to try and use the fastest connection possible.
  21. chong67

    chong67 Android Expert

    Why is that my HTC 4G LTE phone can only do LTE and if not LTE, it can only do 3G or 2G? It cant do 4G at all.
  22. Crashdamage

    Crashdamage Android Expert

    Both HSPA+ and LTE are commonly referred to as '4G'.

    Linux user #266351. Android since v1.0
  23. mogelijk

    mogelijk Android Expert

    Because CDMA (the radio used by Verizon and Sprint) hasn't improved the 3G standard like GSM (the radio used by T-Mobile and AT&T). T-Mobile's current "4G" is the HSPA+ 42 extension of GSM 3G. So, for T-Mobile, even when LTE is available, in areas where HSPA+ is currently available, if you don't have an LTE phone or LTE is not available you will still be able to get the current 4G.
    chong67 likes this.
  24. zenicanin

    zenicanin Member

    I'm getting like 19000 kbps from T-Mobile's HSPA. Not sure how fast LTE is, but that's pretty quick.

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