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4G/LTE phones – first generation of phones are a waste

April 28, 2011

I just learned that the current wave of 4G phones have to use two sets of chips – one for 4G, and one for everything else, including 3G, and non-3G, and voice.  Even worse, the current 4G/LTE technology (and chips) only do data, not voice.  So even if you said “that’s okay – I’ll do 4G only” you still need two sets of chips, one for 4G and one for voice.

Lame!

The power consumption alone makes this almost useless, especially when searching for a signal or switching between 3G and 4G, or using data and voice at the same time.  And having to keep both chips powered all the time – which has to happen to use data and even be aware of incoming phone calls – means there’s really no way to conserve power (although the new 3G + voice saves a tiny bit of power, it has it’s own issues).  Add to that the space issues, you end up with a too-big phone + battery, that will last all of about 4 hours.

The next generation of chips, like those from Qualcomm and Altair, will have an integrated 4G/3G/voice chip.  That’s a lot more practical, and makes a lot more sense.  It should be a lot more power efficient as well, and will obviously take up less space.

This is a bit of a bummer though, as it means no usable phone, Android or iOS, will be able to use 4G until at best early next year.  And that assumes the first generation of the single-chip 4G/3G/voice is low-power enough and small enough.  Given history, it’s possible it will take another generation of the single-chips before the phones are something most of us will tolerate.

And that’s ignoring the complete outage of Verizon’s 4G/LTE network over the past couple of days.

The 4G MiFi’s are fine, as the power draw and size are much less of an issue, and there’s no componding voice issue at all.

So for now, stay away from the 4G phones, except as a novelty or if you only need around 4 hours of battery life.

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From → Internet, Phone

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