Microsoft is testing a Windows Phone 8 handset with a dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 chipset for Sprint’s network, The Verge reported on Wednesday. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 processor has posted impressive performance when powering Android devices, beating out Samsung’s Galaxy S II (Exynos) and Motorola’s Droid 4 (TI OMAP) by a wide margin in many tests. Microsoft hopes the chip will bring similar performance to the Windows Phone platform. Sprint has reportedly shared its LTE specifications with Nokia and may not introduce any further Windows Phone devices until Windows Phone 8 is launched later this year, The Verge claims. More →
LightSquared and former FCC chief engineer Edmond Thomas on Wednesday said the GPS test devices that were used by the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee (PNT EXCOM) to test its new network were rigged by “manufacturers of GPS receivers and government end users to produce bogus results.” The company said that devices from GPS manufacturers, which have claimed LightSquared’s network interferes with GPS communications, were “cherry picked” in secret and that independent authorities were not allowed to partake or oversee the tests or test results. In addition, LightSquared said the tests focused on obsolete technology that is only used in “niche market devices” and that are “least able to withstand potential interference” from wireless networks. Read on for more. More →
Following BGR’s exclusive report on Monday revealing that AT&T’s 4G LTE network has gone live in Chicago, we have received new images confirming that the network is alive and kicking in Atlanta as well. A source has provided BGR with multiple images of AT&T’s 4G LTE service in action, and we have verified that the tester is indeed located in Atlanta, Georgia. Our source in Chicago had trouble finding full service, but Atlanta seems to be blanketed a bit better at this pre-launch stage. Using an AT&T Elevate 4G LTE mobile hotspot, our tester in Atlanta saw download speeds approach 25Mbps and upload speeds in excess of 8Mbps — much faster than the already speedy tests we saw up north. Again, these pre-launch tests do not necessarily represent the data speeds AT&T subscribers will see when the 4G LTE network officially goes live this summer. And just as was the case in Chicago, it is unclear if AT&T’s 4G LTE network has been soft launched in Atlanta or if service will only appear intermittently while the network is being tested. Images showing AT&T 4G LTE speed tests in Atlanta can be seen in our photo gallery, which is linked below.
AT&T’s 4G LTE network went live this past weekend in the Chicago area, and initial speed tests reveal impressive download speeds. AT&T has yet to announce the availability of LTE service in Chicago or any other launch market, but BGR has obtained exclusive images and speed test results from a source who has tested the network there. Ahead of an official launch, AT&T 4G LTE service is likely to be available only intermittently during testing, though it is also possible that Chicago has been soft launched following the launch of AT&T’s first two 4G LTE devices last week. Read on for more.
New evidence has emerged that further confirms Apple’s ongoing tests of an LTE-enabled iPhone and iPad. BGR exclusively reported last week that multiple Apple carrier partners are currently testing iPhone models equipped with LTE radios. Our source also supplied a PLIST file containing evidence of the LTE-enabled iPhone. Now, MacRumors has discovered this LTE.plist file in iOS 5 developer builds for both the GSM iPhone 4 and the CDMA iPad 2. While the discovery of these files does not necessarily indicate that Apple plans to release 4G LTE-compatible devices in the near future, it does reaffirm that ongoing tests are being conducted with the new high-speed wireless technology. An additional report emerged last week claiming that several Apple Store locations were having new 4G LTE equipment installed, even providing photographic evidence of the new gear. Once again, this news does not necessarily suggest that 4G LTE-enabled Apple products will launch in the immediate future, but it could be safe to say Apple will be ready to support LTE once U.S. and global coverage is expanded. More →
Apple’s iPhone 5 is set to be unveiled in the next month or so, though no one quite knows what the device will feature thanks to the ongoing flood of rumors. Sure, we have a pretty good idea of what it will look like, though one technology we’ve repeatedly seen requested is LTE support for 4G networks across the globe. While we can’t confirm that the upcoming fifth-generation iPhone will be able to support 4G LTE, we can now exclusively confirm that Apple’s carrier partners are testing iPhone models with LTE capability. BGR has obtained evidence of an internal iOS test build from one of Apple’s major carrier partners, and buried in the firmware is a property list (.plist file) for LTE. This doesn’t necessarily mean every Apple device that’s about to be released will feature an embedded 4G LTE modem, but it certainly means Apple isn’t sitting on the sidelines as 4G LTE networks continue to roll out around the world. Plus, when Apple finally does make a 4G LTE device, the battery might actually last longer than a few hours. Check out our photo gallery for images of Apple’s LTE plist file.
An image of what could be Apple’s next-generation iPhone has surfaced online. 9to5 Mac published the photo, which it received from a tipster, and the site does not claim to be able to verify the authenticity of the image. According to the report, the site’s tipster saw a presumed Apple employee using the device in public when he snapped the above picture of the man and the device. While there’s no telling if the handset seen above is in fact Apple’s iPhone 5, it certainly doesn’t resemble any iOS device we’ve seen to date. There are some discrepancies with earlier leaks, however, that claimed to reveal case designs for the iPhone 5. The volume rocker, for example, is still on the left side of the device pictured above, but earlier case designs showed it on the right. On the other hand, Apple has undoubtedly finalized its hardware design at this point, so it’s entirely possible that the iPhone 5 is undergoing real-world testing. A test on a train is certainly necessary so Apple can see how the device performs when rapidly switching between cell towers, so that’s another good sign. Would an Apple employee be holding the device out in the open without something concealing the device and the Apple logo on the back? We’re not so sure.
Apple is in the late stages of testing a new ultra-thin 15-inch notebook computer that may or may not be an upcoming new addition to the MacBook Air family. MacRumors on Tuesday reports that the new ultra-thin laptop could either be a MacBook Air, which is currently offered in 11 and 13-inch sizes, or a MacBook Pro, which is currently offered in 13, 15 and 17-inch sizes. No pricing or release timing is being reported at this point, though a launch in the near term is unlikely. Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro lineup this past February and new MacBookAir models launched just this past week. More →
Earlier today we gave you a glimpse at Sprint’s Overland Park campus, its Usability Lab, the Sprint Technology Integration Center and the carrier’s Mobile Technology Lab. Within that Mobile Technology Lab is a huge amount of fascinating equipment that we were not allowed to photograph. One box Sprint was happy to let us snap, however, was the Ericsson E-Node Base Transceiver System (BTS) pictured above. These devices find themselves at the center of Sprint’s forward-looking network efforts. Dubbed “Network Vision,” Sprint is in the process of upgrading and future-proofing its network — at least, to the extent a network can be future-proofed at this point. The E-Node BTS you see above and in the gallery below is an amazing advancement that will enable Sprint to realize this vision. The vertical “cards” you see pictured can be inserted and removed as easily as servers in a rack. Each one of these cards enables a network technology and is connected to an antenna cluster. So, for example, if Sprint was to reach a deal that would allow a partner to build out 4G LTE on Sprint’s network, Sprint engineers could simply add the appropriate LTE card to the BTS and off we go. Of course this is a bit oversimplified as there is plenty of intensive testing involved, but this is a monumental leap forward, and one that we hope will be adopted by other major carriers in the U.S. Sprint’s Network Vision program really is the future of the carrier’s network, and the technology and facilities behind it are incredible. Check out the gallery below for a closer look at the E-Node BTS.
Next up on our virtual tour of Sprint’s headquarters could very well be the most interesting facility yet — the Mobile Technology Lab, which is located on Sprint’s main campus here in Overland Park, Kansas. This massive facility houses 50,000 square feet of lab space, 360 tons of cooling equipment, and once a current upgrade project is completed it will contain a total of 15 miles of coaxial cable and 5 miles of fiber. Whereas the Sprint Technology Integration Center is focused on network testing, this monstrous lab focuses on device testing. The facility allows Sprint engineers to test nearly every imaginable aspect of a device that might concern Sprint, from battery and audio quality to monitoring and logging software events during a limitless number of usage cases. The photo tour begins with another RF chamber; this one is an anechoic isolation chamber that keeps all signals out to ensure that tests are not impacted by outside radio waves. The second room you see is actually a dual-walled isolation chamber that takes this concept a step further. The tests performed here can be so sensitive that even the monitoring equipment could ruin them. As a result, the test equipment is positioned outside the first door and then sealed off with the second. You’ll also see a set of three dials immediately after the double door chamber, and these actually control the amount of signal fed into the chamber. So, for example, Sprint engineers are able to see how devices operate with weak 3G signal, or even take performance readings as 4G signal drops and the device jumps to 3G. Finally, the gray head pictured is part of an audio quality test setup — we were not allowed to photograph the monitoring station — and the small room at the end is home to a station that tests devices’ ability to play various kinds of multimedia files. As we’re sure you’re beginning to understand at this point, handsets and other connected devices undergo extremely rigorous testing ahead of release… and the tastes you’re getting here are barely the tip of the iceberg.
And now comes the fun stuff. BGR on Wednesday toured a number of labs here at Sprint’s Midwest headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. Some we’re able to talk about and some we can’t unfortunately, but among the ones we can show you is the Sprint Technology Integration Center located down the road from Sprint’s main campus in Lenexa, Kansas. This facility houses 15,000 square feet of laboratory space and the teams that dwell within are focused on network performance testing; devices that enter this lab have already gone through third-party testing and will now undergo validation testing. Sprint has specific requirements outside of compliance standards in order to ensure that devices on its networks meet its high standards, and this lab is home to the majority of equipment used to perform those tests. Among the jewels to be found within the gallery linked below is the ever-popular RF chamber. Foam spikes… gel-filled head positioned oh so carefully… this is one of the staples of cellular labs that we all look forward to seeing. The RF chamber is designed to create very specific test environments for devices in order to provide a level of control that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. There are also a few shots of demos we were given of a couple different test setups, including navigation testing and streaming video testing. The full gallery can be seen via the link below.
As we mentioned earlier, Sprint is currently hosting reporters from BGR and four other publications at its massive headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. We gave you a tour of Sprint’s grounds earlier this morning, and now we’re happy to bring you a rare glimpse inside the Sprint Usability Lab here at the carrier’s campus. This building houses various facilities and equipment used to perform some of the product testing that helps shape the future of Sprint’s portfolio. User groups are brought in for a wide range of focus studies and device testing, and we were shown a variety of equipment Sprint uses to perform the tests. One such device, which can be seen in the last three images in the gallery below, is an eye tracker that allows Sprint’s usability experts to view and later analyze exactly what a user looks at while handling a device. We were shown a demo where the user handled a feature phone and viewed the device’s UI on the attached monitor. As the user flipped through the device’s interface, the equipment was able to track — in real time — exactly where the user was looking on the device’s interface. This type of study can then help Sprint build user interfaces and experiences that are arranged logically in accordance with user behavior, ultimately resulting in a more user-friendly experience. We have plenty more to come but in the meantime, enjoy the gallery below.
As part of its new Teardown Research Service, market research firm ABI Research has torn Samsung’s Galaxy S II apart in order to analyze and test the components Samsung used to build its latest flagship device. “If you are looking to keep up with the latest technology in 2011, the Galaxy S II is a good place to start,” ABI Research’s report states, listing the device’s major changes compared to the original Galaxy S as including the Exynos dual-core processor, a new single-packaged multi-band multi-mode radio from RFMD, a new CMOS-based antenna switch and a lower-power XMM6260 cellular chipset from Infineon. “Samsung started from scratch with this phone: almost every component is new,” ABI Research vice president of engineering James Mielke said in a statement. ”Its application processor is the most powerful on the market at present. It is the first to use the Samsung Exynos 4210 dual-core application processor (a competitor to NVIDIA’s dual-core Tegra 2). The name Exynos combines Greek words for ‘smart’ and ‘green,’ indicating Samsung’s energy-efficiency goals for the design.” Mielke concludes, ““Samsung took many risks by combining all these new technologies into one phone. But ABI Research believes those risks will pay off; the Galaxy S II sets a new benchmark for almost every category on which a smartphone is measured.” More →