New flagship smartphones due in the first half of 2016 will support faster 4G LTE speeds, thanks to a new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.
The Snapdragon 820 processor supports such capabilities as sending LTE data over Wi-Fi networks, including public Wi-Fi hot spots, when carrier networks are congested. Carriers Verizon and AT&T have said they would deploy the technology, called LTE-Unlicensed, over unlicensed Wi-Fi airwaves in 2016.
In networks supporting LTE-U, consumers "may experience a sudden boost in LTE speeds in areas that normally suffer from congestion," Qualcomm said. The technology will also free up licensed-spectrum resources so that consumers without LTE-U phones will be able to download data faster as well, Qualcomm said.
LTE-U uses carrier aggregation to bond licensed LTE channels with unlicensed Wi-Fi channels.
LTE-U phones will automatically select between LTE and Wi-Fi depending on signal quality and speed. If a public W-Fi hot spot gets congested, the phone will switch back to the carrier’s network without dropping a call or data session.
The 820 chipset and integrated Qualcomm X12 LTE modem also supports other speed-boosting technologies. It is the first publicly announced mobile-device processor supporting LTE Category 12 downlink technology and LTE Category 13 uplink technology, allowing for peak download speeds of 600Mbps via three-channel carrier aggregation and peak upload speeds of 150Mbps with two-channel carrier aggregation, Qualcomm said.
That compares with what’s available on such current flagship phones as the LG G4, which supports Category 5 300/75Mbps peak downlink and uplink speeds; Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 4, whose Category 9 LTE supports peak 450/50Mbps downlink and uplink speeds; and the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which offers Category 5 300Mbps downlink speeds.
The Snapdragon 820 processor is also the first publicly announced processor to offer LTE support for 4x4 Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO) technology, which doubles download throughput speeds on a single LTE channel.
Wi-Fi speeds: The chipset also accelerates Wi-Fi speeds compared with its predecessor.
Besides accelerating LTE speeds, the processor accelerates Wi-Fi speeds through multi-gigabit 802.11ad and 2x2 MU-MIMO for 801.11ac. The peak rate of 2x2 ac is up to 867Mbps, while the 11ad peak rate is up to 4.6Gbps.
“The high bandwidth and speeds offered by 11ac Wi-Fi, 11ad Wi-Fi, and MU-MIMO brings new-levels of performance designed to improve overall quality of service and enhance user experiences for applications such as streaming 4K video, doing peer-to-peer large file sharing, using media kiosks, docking wirelessly, hard disk backups and more,” the company said.
The X12 LTE modem also supports next-generation HD Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Video over LTE (ViLTE) calling services.