We're gradually working our way into an all-LTE world, but there are still a few hurdles to cross. One of those hurdles, the seamless handover from LTE to 3G during a VoLTE (voice-over-LTE) call, has now been achieved by Qualcomm.
So, what does that mean, exactly? Basically, if you're on a VoLTE call in an LTE network and you leave the coverage zone, the call would normally go dead. Thanks to this new chip from Qualcomm, though, that all changes.
US Cellular back in May of 2011 announced that it would be rolling out 4G LTE to about a quarter of its customer base "before the holiday season." While that deadline may have come and gone without a word from the regional carrier, it just announced that the rollout is officially set to begin "next month" in select cities:
Milwaukee, Madison and Racine, WI
Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport, IA
Portland and Bangor, ME
The company also announced the first two devices that will run on its LTE network: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy S Aviator.
Google's latest wunderphone, the Galaxy Nexus, normally runs a pricey $300 on contract when purchased through Verizon. Luckily, competition brings down prices - sometimes dramatically - and it's on sale now at Amazon for just $99.99 with free 2-day shipping for incoming Verizon customers (it's still $259.99 for those who are upgrading). Quite the discount, and 100 bones for such a mind-blowing device is quite the steal indeed.
In comparison, Wirefly is selling the GNexus for $230 for both new and upgrading customers.
It would appear that Sprint plans on going full speed ahead in focusing on product development for its 4G LTE lineup this year. David Owens, Sprint's VP of Product Development made clear at CES Wednesday that Sprint "won't be introducing any more WiMax smartphones," adding "April, May, June, July, August, those will be very aggressive times for us." This may be a hint that we could begin seeing LTE devices as early as April, which is great news for customers holding out for a new device (like Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, which is poised to be Sprint's first LTE device).
As I wrote back in October, Sprint currently has major network issues, but the company has been planning to address the woes with the Network Vision rollout in 2012 and 2013.
Network Vision is a project to improve existing cell towers and roll out LTE across the U.S., and it's already underway in the existing CDMA 1900MHz range. 1900MHz is nice, but just wait till you see what the 2nd stage of NV (Network Vision) has in store when it starts rolling out in the 800MHz range in place of the current iDEN network.
Late yesterday, we got a chance to spend some time with the Motorola DROID 4 over at the Verizon booth here at CES, and we have to say - It sure seems like Motorola has done it again. The DROID 4 will likely once again set the bar for QWERTY slider phones, and thanks to the addition of 4G LTE and a snappy TI OMAP 4430 dual-core processor (the same one found in the DROID RAZR), it's also going to be the fastest DROID yet.
We stopped by the Sony booth earlier this morning at CES, and got some hands-on time with the very first Sony smartphones (Sony-Ericsson is no more, subject to regulatory approval) - the Xperia Ion and the Xperia S. While these devices were designed before the Sony Ericsson breakup, they'll be marketed as Sony devices when they hit retail channels.
The tablet flood continues, the latest from Sammy is the Galaxy Tab 7.7 for Verizon. This little guy hopes to stand out from the crowd with the largest OLED display Samsung has ever put on a tablet: a 7.7 inch, Super AMOLED Plus Display.
The "Plus" on the end of "Super AMOLED Plus" means "not pentile," so you're even getting the full compliment of subpixels. It looks like this:
Now for the bad news, it's only Android 3.2, and it's got Touchwiz, and lots of crapware.
Looks like last week's leaked Sprint ad for the Galaxy Nexus was right on the money - The Now Network just officially announced the GN as one of its first 4G LTE devices, alongside the LG Viper.
Even though Sprint has decided to make the GN official, there is still one immediate question looming about: what is the clock speed? Truth be known - we still don't know. The press release is void of any hardware specs, so we'll just have to wait and see if the processor is running at a full 1.5GHz as previously rumored.
As we already know, Sprint is going to roll out its next generation 4G LTE network in four U.S. cities somewhere around mid-2012, and it would only make sense that they already have some of the towers undergoing testing. The first of such alleged tests surfaced online today:
While I can't promise you it's 100% legitimate, here's my analysis:
The device used is more than likely a dedicated LTE hotspot and not a handset (like the LTE Galaxy Nexus).