Cellular

I talked earlier about the Note 2 being the first Samsung handset I know of to include MDM9x15. In the case of the T-Mobile Note 2 I was sampled, the device includes MDM9215 which is capable of category 3 LTE FDD and TDD, Release 9 DC-HSPA+, GSM/EDGE, and TD-SCDMA along with onboard gpsOneGen 8A GNSS. I’ve confirmed that MDM9215 is present without having to disassemble or otherwise tamper with the T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2.

One of the most interesting things about the Galaxy Note 2 on T-Mobile is that it literally is the same hardware as the AT&T Note 2 with LTE. Sure, the model number is different, but the T-Mobile Note 2 includes support for LTE bands 17 (which AT&T uses) and 4 (AWS, which AT&T has specced devices out for and T-Mobile has confirmed it will deploy LTE on). This is to my knowledge the first T-Mobile handset with overt LTE support, and thus a solid future-proof purchase if you’re determined to have a T-Mobile handset that will work with the carrier’s upcoming LTE on AWS plans.

In addition, if you unlock the handset there’s no reason it shouldn’t work on AT&T’s LTE network that I can see. I managed to unlock the T-Mobile Galaxy Note 2 but not before leaving the AT&T LTE market in Dallas. It does however work as expected on WCDMA 1900 in my own market on AT&T after unlocking.

 
ServiceMode showing DC_HSPA+=1 (left), One of my fastest T-Mobile Tests (right)

As usual Samsung’s awesome ServiceMode is on the device and confirms that T-Mobile DC-HSPA+ is working. If you haven’t read discussion of DC-HSPA+ before, this is WCDMA carrier aggregation that combines two 5 MHz WCDMA downlink carriers, statistically multiplexes across them, and effectively doubles throughput on the downlink. That gets you from the theoretical maximum of 21.1 Mbps on 64QAM WCDMA up to 42 Mbps on dual carrier at the moment, which T-Mobile does run in its “4G” markets at present. I’m actually a huge fan of T-Mobile’s commitment to continually rolling out the latest physical layer upgrades for WCDMA and DC-HSPA+ keeps things feeling very speedy when you’re in good coverage and still helps at cell edge. Upstream is still limited to a single WCDMA uplink carrier, but most mobile traffic is so asymmetric to begin with it isn’t a huge deal.

Galaxy Note 2 T-Mobile - Network Support
GSM/EDGE Support 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
UMTS/WCDMA Support 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
HSDPA/HSUPA Speeds 42.2 Mbps (DC-HSPA+ Rel9) / 5.76 Mbps
LTE Support Band 17 (700 Lower B+C), 4 (AWS), UE Cat 3 FDD-LTE (Up to 100 Mbps DL)
Baseband Hardware Qualcomm MDM9215 (confirmed) + RTR8600 (?)

Interestingly enough ServiceMode has some hints about there being possibly even more bands, but these are probably for other Galaxy Note 2 variants based on MDM9215 that will pop up or have popped up for other locales.

Running speedtests and outputting the results on the Galaxy Note 2 is more of just a sanity check than something very interesting since we’ve seen dual carrier HSPA+ before. I had to test partially in Dallas, Texas during the Big Android BBQ and partially at home. For whatever reason the conference venue definitely had some T-Mobile propagation issues or loading from all the attendees, but the averages are still decent. I’ve seen speeds around 25 Mbps down on T-Mobile dual carrier HSPA+ which is pretty impressive honestly.

 

Stats Download Throughput (Mbps)
Avg: 8.65, Max: 26.53, Min: 0.10, StDev: 5.60
 
Stats Upload Throughput (Mbps)
Avg: 1.49, Max: 3.56, Min: 0.01, StDev: 0.71
 
Stats Latency (ms)
Avg: 416.30, Max: 2394.00, Min: 57.00, StDev: 563.20

We see a weird double distribution of latency as well since there’s some additional setup and negotiation. I suspect getting out of PCH and into DCH results in some of this T-Mobile behavior when using speedtest.net, because tests without letting the radio go into IDLE have very low follow-up latency.

WiFi

The Note 2 uses BCM4334 for WiFi and is enabled for both 2.4 and 5 GHz. Just like the Galaxy S 3 that means 40 MHz channels on 5 GHz for a maximum physical layer speed of 150 Mbps. I did have some weird issues here, no matter what I did I couldn’t get the Note 2 to go on the 5 GHz AP, or get up to 150 Mbps.

Curiously enough there isn’t any 2.4 or 5 GHz priority toggle under the advanced tab in WiFi settings, yet the Galaxy S 3 models have this toggle and the same WiFi hardware stack. I suspect there’s some software or configuration issue here.

WiFi Performance - iPerf

As a result we see iPerf performance out of the Galaxy Note 2 along the lines of what you’d expect for just 2.4 GHz operation. I’m puzzled as to why this is the case quite honestly.

GNSS

There’s not really too much to say about GNSS on the Galaxy Note 2 other than that like other MDM9x15 based handsets, it leverages Qualcomm’s on-baseband GpsOneGen 8A for both GPS and Russian GLONASS based positioning. Gen 8A includes better LTE coexistence and lower power consumption compared to 8. I tested GNSS and found that locks are speedy and accurate, as expected. I suspect that the days of Samsung phones shipping with flakey GPS are now well behind us.

Display - A new Subpixel Geometry Speakerphone and Noise Suppression
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  • HanakoIkezawa - Friday, November 16, 2012 - link

    I haven't had this problem with my note or with my sister's iphone4s with the Kia soul. have you tried going to the store to see i it defective or tried to see if it fails to work with other cars?

    I do agree that some kind of Bluetooth testing would be nice to see with future reviews
    Reply
  • abhi.12 - Friday, November 09, 2012 - link

    what is the response of galaxy note 2 with other languages like hindi. I am searching for a device in which i can take notes in hindi. Is it responsive enough to write. Reply
  • Random Guy99 - Thursday, December 13, 2012 - link

    That the iPhone 5 is more powerful and has better battery life than the note 2 despite it having a battery 3 times larger and a quad core chip. The A6 must have far superior architecture and you can see how far optimisation goes and googles lack of it. I guess that's the problem that is bound to happen when one company doesn't make both hardware and software. Reply
  • MichaelEvans - Monday, December 24, 2012 - link

    Just got a new Samsung Galaxy Note 2! Am thrilled!! I have a graphics design salon in New York and use it to doodle ideas while on the go. Then because I'm on AT&T's 4GLTE I send the doodles to myself at home and it’s very cool. Reply
  • anhminh1232002 - Tuesday, January 01, 2013 - link

    Hello everyone

    The G-sensor doesn't seem to work when the screen is off.
    I am using Note 2 Galaxy Samsung.
    I tried Justflip to flip to turn on the screen. The screen wasn't on at all.
    Please tell me if the is a fix for this bug.

    Thank you.
    Reply
  • mgrant - Sunday, February 24, 2013 - link

    S-Note is pretty nice looking, and as you say OneNote is feature rich and you've got lots of content in it which you can get at if you install the OneNote Mobile app on your phone.

    But what about creating notes using the pen in S-Note? Is there some way to say store those notes in a Dropbox and get at them on the laptop? What would you edit them in? So far, about the only thing I've found is that you can export an image (pdf or jpeg) of the S-note note into dropbox and view the static image on your desktop. That's not so useful.

    Is there anything out there that lets one have notes across platforms, that can use the pen, and preferably stores stuff in my existing dropbox account rather than making me pay yet another cloud storage service?

    There's Evernote, but it doesn't work directly with S-Note. You can export a static image into Evernote as a sort of final resting place for the note, but this is unfulfilling at best.
    Reply
  • Amit kumar - Friday, March 22, 2013 - link

    Yeah its amazing device. It is taller, leaner, lighter with shinier packs. I got all statistics about this phone this site as well. www.gadtecho.com Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    How much does it cost? Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    I mean the Galaxy note 2 or 3 Reply
  • Hanna - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    My mum does not want to buy 700 euros. So ...
    What should I do? How can I persuade my mum to it? HELP??!! PLEASE REPLY
    Reply

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