Smartphone manufacturers have accustomed us to the fact that all flagship mobiles have very similar specifications. Also, OnePlus has established its position in preparing its flagship killer. Therefore, customers pay attention to parameters such as screen size, chipset, RAM, storage space and camera. Only few people look into the specs details and check for example the category of LTE modem. We often assume that as both smartphones have the same chipset, they also have the same wireless features.
Unfortunately, this is not true. The fact that the smartphone has a chipset that supports the latest LTE-Advanced solutions (such as MIMO 4×4, 256 QAM modulation, multi-carrier aggregation etc.) does not mean that the manufacturer chooses to use them. Most people are still looking at benchmark results and gaming performance, so manufacturers sometimes decide to save production costs in less advanced wireless solutions. Unfortunately, it has met the latest OnePlus 5, which will probably be compared with Samsung Galaxy S8 or Sony Xperia XZ Premium.
OnePlus 5 has a Category 12 LTE modem with a maximum data rate of 600 Mbps.
The latest flagships from Samsung and Sony have the same chipset, but they are category 16 LTE devices that achieve magic speed of 1 Gbps. To make this possible, the smartphone manufacturer must design the device with an antenna system that supports MIMO 4×4 mode. Then 1 Gbps can be achieved with carrier aggregation of 3 bands, with two of them MIMO 4×4 and one MIMO 2×2. If an operator uses MIMO 4×4 on only one frequency band, then aggregation of 4 carriers is required to achieve a maximum transmission rate of 1 Gbps. Both configurations give a total of 10 data streams, each with a bit rate of 100 Mbps.
OnePlus 5 does not support the MIMO 4×4, but only the standard MIMO 2×2.
The manufacturer also did not provide support for 4-carrier aggregation, but only 3. This gives a total of 6 data streams, 100 Mbps each (OnePlus 5 supports 256 QAM modulation). So the maximum download speed is 600 Mbps. However, exactly the same was offered by last year’s flagship mobiles with Snapdragon 820/821 on board. Exactly, the Samsung Galaxy S7, the LG G5, the LG V20 and the Sony Xperia XZ offer the same class of LTE modem despite the weaker chipset. In some cases, it was necessary to update the software (e.g. provided by the mobile operator), which activated the new 256 QAM modulation at that time. Therefore, in the specification of these devices you will find information about category 9 instead of cat. 12.