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Samsung Galaxy S8 to Kickstart 'Gigabit LTE' Race in US

Dan Jones
3/30/2017

NEW YORK CITY -- The new Samsung Galaxy S8 will be the first major smartphone release to kick-off the "Gigabit LTE" race amongst some mobile carriers in the US.

The giant South Korean conglomerate didn't focus on the download speeds the 4G S8 and S8+ smartphones could potentially deliver at its glitzy launch event at the Lincoln Center in New York Tuesday. Rather Samsung promoted its new wraparound display, "Bixby" digital assistant and upgraded camera that can combine multiple images for a better final picture.

The new Samsungs, however, use the Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) Snapdragon 835, which can approach gigabit download speeds with the right antenna array (MIMO) on the phone, and in the network, and LTE-Advanced features in the RAN.

Click on the image below for a slideshow:

Samsung's Blue Galaxy
The new S8 in the demo lounge in Lincoln Center.
The new S8 in the demo lounge in Lincoln Center.

Samsung product specialists at the launch declined to talk about the multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna array technicalities on the new phones, saying that would be down to US carriers to decide.

T-Mobile US Inc. 's CTO, Neville Ray, however, took to Twitter to boast about the forthcoming phone's performance on the "Uncarrier" network:

He also posted a speed-test video of the new S8 hitting downloads of 725 Mbit/s.

Light Reading has asked the other major US carriers for further details about the performance of the S8 on their networks. We'll update the story with any major details or differences.

The S8 models will arrive on April 21. They will be among the first phones to get the new Qualcomm 835 processor. (See New Qualcomm Chip Promises 'Gigabit' 4G.)

Gigabit or gigabit class LTE -- as ever with a shared mobile network -- will not actually deliver gigabit speeds over the air. Early speed tests seem to suggest that speeds of between 200 Mbit/s and 600 Mbit/s are possible on the downlink. Performance speeds are also likely to improve over time as carriers further upgrade their LTE networks. (See Sprint to Be 1st in US With Massive MIMO?.)

Samsung also didn't mention anything about last year's issues with the Note 7 catching fire and getting recalled. Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh said in his preamble that the vendor was happy to have the trust of mobile consumers but didn't mention the Note debacle specifically. (See Samsung's NoteGate: Winners & Losers.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
4/25/2017 | 4:11:20 PM
Re: Actual speeds?
@kq4ym: So far not so good for Samsung as NYT and others have panned the Galaxy S8 -- especially criticizing it for releasing it before the US release of Bixby.
kq4ym
kq4ym
4/11/2017 | 9:04:18 AM
Re: Actual speeds?
It will be interesting to see how Samsung recovers and just what tactic they'll take in advertising and PR work over the next few months with the new products and the still back of the mind caution consumers may have over the company.
DanJones
DanJones
4/6/2017 | 4:45:10 PM
Re: Actual speeds?
I would expect peaks in the 100s in cities, less for rural areas, cos crappier coverage.
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
4/6/2017 | 9:43:15 AM
Re: Actual speeds?
@daniel: Of course, the iPhone 7 had some similar problems of its own -- although not nearly so serious.  Moreover, the issues came to light well after the Samsung Note 7 was deemed an utter catastrophe.

Another big part of the difference, however, is that the iPhone has a VERY strong brand foundation.  Apple's marketing and product management team has done an excellent job here.
danielcawrey
danielcawrey
4/2/2017 | 3:11:05 PM
Re: Actual speeds?
The company is trying to move on from the Note 7 problems. It still has to contend with Apple, which I still think makes a better smartphone. Although Samsung has been able to survive the problems of last year, it's still got some work to do to repair its image. 
Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
3/30/2017 | 8:20:36 PM
Re: Actual speeds?
@KBode: Indeed, not enough studies (some do, but still, not enough) test or take into account "real-world" use.

It also depends upon the carrier.  T-Mobile, for example, is notorious for having major connectivity issues in city buildings.
Sr.Manag64649
Sr.Manag64649
3/30/2017 | 7:43:34 PM
Re: Actual speeds?
Here are real world speeds from the world first Gigabit LTE network: http://cellularinsights.com/telstras-gigabit-class-lte-network-the-work-of-art/
KBode
KBode
3/30/2017 | 3:32:00 PM
Actual speeds?
What do we actually think these "gigabit speeds" will be in reality once you factor in varied city spectrum holdings and indoor connectivity issues?
DanJones
DanJones
3/30/2017 | 1:17:41 PM
Gigabit
That new Sony XP as yet unreleased Motorola will be in the gig mix too.
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