There's also been some confusion about HSPA+ support on the Veer. The issue stems from an assumption that 64QAM support is mandatory for a device to be 3GPP Release 7, which is absolutely not the case. Ironically, I left a lengthy comment explaining why that's the case in the HTC Inspire 4G HSUPA update story before all of this suddenly became an issue.

The long and short of it is that if a modem supports any 3GPP Release 7 features, it's a 3GPP Release 7 device, and thus 'HSPA+,' which is merely a colloquial label for enhancements added in Release 7. The reality is that none of the features in any release but the original WCDMA 3GPP release are mandatory, everything in each release since then is optional. Thus, features added in 3GPP Release 7 are optional - you don't have to implement every new feature to be able to call your modem HSPA+. Features supported by Qualcomm's MSM7230 inside the HP Veer that are from 3GPP Release 7 include UE DTX/DRX (discontinuous uplink transmission and receive), F-DPCH, and others. Qualcomm's MSM7230 and other current generation WCDMA SoCs include QPSK and 16QAM modulation on the downlink, meaning they are HSDPA 14.4 Category 10 devices. Downlink support for 64QAM will come in the next refresh. 

As of right now, to my knowledge the first shipping phone with 64QAM support was the Samsung Galaxy S 4G which includes an ST Ericsson THOR 5730 HSDPA 21 Mbps HSPA+ modem. Though 64QAM offers potentially faster speeds and better spectral efficiency, it requires accordingly better SNR than 16QAM and substantially more than QPSK, and as a result isn't used unless user equipment is close to the cell center. This behavior is easily measurable on devices like the Galaxy S 4G, whose engineering menus show a percentage breakdown of what frames were modulated using QPSK, 16QAM, and 64QAM. I've been working on performing extensive drive testing with that particular device to explore just this issue for some time now.

Further, the enhancements added in HSPA+ / 3GPP Release 7 cover far more than just the standalone addition of  64QAM. Release 7 adds HSDPA categories which include MIMO but exclude 64QAM support in addition to categories that exclude MIMO but include 64QAM. On the uplink it also includes 16QAM support which could enable upstream speeds of up to 11.5 Mbps. Other major features added are faster call setup and takedown, and reduced cellular signaling to alleviate some of the call and data session blocking issues which have affected a number of UMTS networks. The point of all this is that it's a grossly innacurate oversimplification to claim something is or isn't HSPA+ based on absence of 64QAM on the downlink. 

The long and short of it is that the HP Veer 4G, HTC Inspire 4G, and Motorola Atrix 4G are all definitely HSPA+ capable with 16QAM HSDPA 14.4 support. As an aside, I'm a bit surprised that this is suddenly an issue now since HSDPA 14.4 (Category 10) devices have been shipping for some time now under the HSPA+ banner to no complaint.

I've already started running endless throughput tests on the Veer 4G and thus far have been decently impressed with speeds.

They're right around what I'm used to seeing in my market, which AT&T has enabled HSPA+ support in. I've verified this using AT commands on a Sierra Wireless 308 AirCard. Speeds closer to the theoretical maximum for the UE category will only come with faster backhaul. AT&T is calling this 'enhanced backhaul' and isn't being totally clear about what cell sites have full support yet, though I'm told internally the list of sites that are upgraded with faster backhaul is quite short at the moment. 

This Just In: HP Veer 4G Impressions
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  • jramskov - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Well, hello HP, heard that Europe standardized on MicroUSB a year ago? http://arstechnica.com/telecom/news/2009/06/10-com...

    I also think it's too thick, 15.1mm (0.59 in) according to wikipedia. That's almost twice as thick as the new Samsung Galaxy S2 and quite a bit more than my HTC Desire. Thickness is quite important IMHO when it comes to carrying it in your pocket. My HTC Desire is relatively big (3.7" screen) but it's thin enough for that to rarely be a problem.

    I have no numbers on this, but I'm pretty sure most smartphones sold are without a physical keyboard. I'm very surprised they haven't launched a model without a physcial keyboard. I think a lot of people simply will not consider a smartphone with a physical keyboard. I'm one of them.
    Reply
  • sicofante - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Exactly. I also wonder how are they planning to sell this in Europe. No microUSB charger is not an option here, AFAIK.

    Maybe there's some hope and they're forced to make an European version with microUSB.
    Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    They include an adapter so it's probably fine for EU. They should start selling it here any time. You can charge the phone through the USB. You can use 3.5mm headphones with the included adapter. Apple does fine with their proprietary connector here so. Neither is there anybody forcing them to use MicroUSB directly or indirectly. Reply
  • NCM - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Here's a product that's technically interesting, a quality that always appeals to AT readers. But is the world looking for a smartphone with a tiny 320x400 pixel screen?

    I suspect that like the smoothly rounded stone it resembles it'll sink with barely a ripple under the water of the smartphone market at large.
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    it's obviously not targeting the smartphone market.

    this phone is for people who want something pocketable that can check mail and consult the web in a pinch.

    as long as it's priced accordingly, it should do fine.
    Reply
  • NCM - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    There are three cell phone market segments:
    - Plain ol' cell phones. You call me, I call you, that's it.
    - Feature phones Keyboard, possibly a few other amenities, no web or email.
    - Smartphones. Capable processors, reasonable amounts of onboard storage, web, email and apps.

    The Veer is far more than a feature phone, but far less functional (tiny screen, etc.) than mainstream smartphones. It has a browser and email, can presumably run WebOS apps. We don't know how much memory it has, but there's a reasonably speedy single-core processor.

    The Veer is clearly not a mere feature phone, but equally it's a lesser creation than other smartphones. So does the Veer fit into a narrow band at the lower end of the smartphone, a band that nobody else seems to think exists?

    Performance appears to be quite good, but performance in the service of what? It doesn't matter how fast the Veer's 4G serves me up a web page, at 320x400 I don't care. Same for email. On the other hand you're not going to buy a Veer just for texting.

    Within reasonable bounds the Veer's price doesn't matter all that much. By now we all know that handset price is the least part of a smartphone's total cost of ownership.

    Perhaps I just don't get it, but I'm afraid that not many other people will either. Who is the Veer aimed at?
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    Since you have to pay for the data anyway, why not get the biggest, fastest phone available?
    Yeah, I get that, but maybe you don't want to tote around a giant contraption in your pocket, but you want to check your email?
    You can call it whatever you want, feature or smartphone or whatever, it doesn't change what it does; which is offering a better feature phone experience while fitting nicely into a pocket.
    If you are wondering who this is aimed at, I think you need look no further than that.
    Reply
  • ioannis - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    First of all, regarding your 1st phone category, I don't have your number to call you :-P

    secondly, Veer's screen is small, BUT unlike the keyboardless counterparts you people seem to compare it with, it's not 'waisted' by an on screen keyboard when you type things (probably do that more often in WebOS that other OSs, due to JustType™). I think the keyboard is kind of a must for something like the Veer.

    I'm actually excited about the Veer. Seems to compare to the iPhone 4 (at least with its original iOS version) in terms of performance, which is very impressive. From what I've seen, it feels mega smooth and I really like its form factor. Also WebOS is the best mobile platform in my opinion and if HP manages to bring it to the PC, as they are saying, it will have bright feature.
    Reply
  • Penti - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    It's an exciting business or prosumer oriented device according to my taste any way, it's faster then last gen Android phones, it's faster then budget Android phones, fills all the business needs well and is enough consumer oriented for me to say run Spotify on it. For those where entertainment is not the top of the priority list it is a good device I guess. But it's still plenty fast for games and all other entertainment stuff.

    If you like a bigger screen there is always the Pre 3, but there is still a place for smaller devices. Certainly the combination of Veer, Pre 3 and TouchPad should find a place in business at least, and many consumers too. Certainly is something quite unique to them. They pretty much already has got the look and feel for those devices, got a decent software stack to build from. The touchstone charger is nice feature for work and home too. We shouldn't be kidding ourself that a smart device can last forever on a charge. Certainly not if it sees any use. HP has got a chance here to make something good out of all this.
    Reply
  • Rocket321 - Thursday, May 19, 2011 - link

    The problem, even if its priced low enough, is that they are also selling you a $79-$99 per month plan with it. If someone could launch a low end smart phone, and sell you a low end voice/data plan to go with it, then these things could sell. The only option right now for such a plan is going with prepaid (e.g. virginmobile) and paying full price for the phone.

    I agree that if I'm paying crazy money for a data contract I'm going to get the largest, fastest phone I can get and its got to have the ability to hack & free tether as well. My OG Sprint Pre could free tether but I don't know on WebOS 2 if that will happen again.
    Reply

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