A great thing about new flagship phones is that they usually come packed to the brim with new technologies we can get excited about. The Galaxy Note 3, announced a few days ago, is no exception. While Samsung made a point of featuring Category 4 LTE with Carrier Aggregation, which can achieve 150 Mbps, the company neglected to mention the Note 3 also includes the Qualcomm QFE1100 chipset which should significantly reduce power consumption and heat associated with the LTE radio.
Qualcomm achieves these enhancements in the QFE1100 by using a technology called Envelope Tracking. Essentially, the hardware tracks changes in the radio frequency and adjusts the power amplifier accordingly. Unlike traditional methods which perpetually run at full power, or those that only adjust the level when the radio is barely active, this technology can limit power usage only to what is necessary at the moment of transmission. This not only reduces the amount of energy consumed for communication, but also significantly reduces leftover power that is needlessly converted into excess heat. Qualcomm claims this can reduce radio power consumption by up to 20% and heat production by up to 30%, all while improving the speed and reliability of the cellular signal.
The QFE11xx family of chipsets is actually a first step towards Qualcomm's upcoming "RF360 Front End Solution", which promises to be capable of global compatibility with all standard 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE bands. In addition to supporting virtually every cellular frequency on the planet, the RF360 is expected to reduce power consumption, improve performance, and generally reduce the radio footprint by up to 50% compared to current hardware. The RF360 isn't out yet, and hasn't even been slated for any specific devices, but Qualcomm intends to release it sometime later this year for future devices.
Considering the Note family already has a reputation for great battery life, this can only make it better. Based on Qualcomm's marketing, it seems likely that only the LTE-enabled Note 3 will be equipped with the Envelope Tracking technology.