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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  • jigglywiggly - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    is samsung in a contest to creating the ugliest looking soap bars?

    They had it right with the GS2, then they just decided to fuck it with the GS3
    Reply
  • Skiddywinks - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    That's because the SGS2 was basically an iPhone 4/4S, and they aren't allowed to make similar shapes, it would seem.

    Don't blame Samsung, they want to give you what you want, they just aren't allowed. I do agree though, I do prefer the SGS2/iP4 shape.
    Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - link

    Yeah its amazing how much my wife's GSII is mistaken for an iPhone in the line at ****bucks.

    I know what you mean, though, and its sad Samsung is basically banned from making "attractive" looking phones. Because appearantly, Apple invented attractive looking phones?
    Reply
  • aegisofrime - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    I'm sorry, but anyone who can mistake the GS2 for an iPhone is an idiot.

    I mean, the size difference alone should be a dead giveaway. How about the rectangular home button vs the round home button on the iPhone? How about that big Samsung logo plastered on top of the GS2?

    The only resemblance the two have is the shape. I simply cannot see how anyone can confuse the two.
    Reply
  • sleepeeg3 - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    They confuse the two, because the average consumer doesn't know anything beyond iPhone. They think all phones are iPhones. When someone owns one of the more popular alternatives, the question I always get asked, "is that an iPhone?" Reply
  • Death666Angel - Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - link

    When I had the SGS2 a lot of people around me asked if that was the new iPhone. But most of them thought that iPhone was a generic term like "PC" or "Console".
    I now have a Galaxy Nexus and find it and the new Samsung phones to be just as attractive.
    Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Friday, February 01, 2013 - link

    I am amazed by the constant artsy fartsy droning on how a device looks, and how all people are expected to agree, with of course, the iPhone as the "beautiful one".
    Of course it's brainwashing, just like all the lemmings want their computer parts and cases black - a thousand websites all have the drones exclaiming the same thing - black black black.

    So, anything BUT the sad sorry rectangle of the iPhone is great by me. It's a freaking rectangle - and worse yet, the stupid public pubes in charge of the PC worshipping of a rectangle always claim thinner is also better.

    Thinner is not better, especially when gripping. It's better in their lemming brainwashed gourds and not IRL, but their estrogen doused public opinion persona would have them believing anything peer pressure desired them to, so of course we have that thin to win crazed insanity everywhere as well.

    It's a freakin rectangle. That's super, superior styling to these god for saken morons - it's amazing they can even drool.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    I'm sorry, but anyone who can mistake the GS2 (and GS1 for that matter) for an iPhone is an idiot. Reply
  • PeteH - Thursday, October 25, 2012 - link

    Depends. I can understand it at a glance, but not upon close inspection. Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - link

    I agree on the weird soapy curve of the S3, but the Note 2 looks more like a large SII, which is fine by me.

    By the way, in Boost mode, the Galaxy Note II works extremely well as a portable guitar amp. You just get a toggle for gain, rather than a knob for fine adjustment of the level of distortion :D
    Reply

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