T-Mobile expects to be the first U.S. carrier to offer 4G phones with integrated LTE radios and antennas. Speaking to Fierce Wireless in Barcelona, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray made the prediction, which is important because the LTE phones of today can drain a device’s battery quickly for a number of reasons.
By using chips with integrated LTE components, T-Mobile’s LTE handsets should use less power than a comparable device that uses non-integrated antennas and baseband modems. The current crop of LTE phones from AT&T and Verizon don’t have this integration, and often have a real-world run time of 6 hours or less when using fast LTE mobile broadband.
But the carriers aren’t to be solely blamed for the poor battery life situation on today’s LTE phones. Chipmakers are still working to integrate the LTE components into their SOCs, or systems on a chip.
In a sense, the U.S. LTE networks are rolling out prior to having efficient hardware to use them. It was just this week at the Mobile World Congress event that devices with Qualcomm’s MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 chip debuted; these are among the first with LTE radios integrated into the chip.
By being late to the LTE game, T-Mobile could actually benefit from the situation. Ask most people who have an LTE phone today, and they’ll likely say that their Verizon or AT&T handset has poor battery life. A lone exception might be owners of Verizon’s Droid Razr Maxx, which crams a double-capacity battery into the phone.
T-Mobile may not have that same stigma with its first LTE phones. And as the underdog national carrier, that could bring it a small benefit if the company soon makes good on Ray’s prediction.