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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Moto G has no LTE. Deal breaker?

Seeing as the Moto G has been released in emerging markets, the wait for a US launch becomes that much harder. In my previous article, I wrote that the Moto G is a game changer. Early reviews highly recommend the device due to its good quality, fast performance, and price. When the Moto G releases in early 2014 in the US, I expect a similar reception as well. Although there is a big omission in the Moto G that may affect the perception of the device and its sales. The lack of an LTE antenna is a big issue in a nation with robust and soon to be robust LTE networks on various carriers. With LTE being the new standard in wireless, this omission may cast a dark shadow on the Moto G as not being up to date and possibly being viewed as slow. But is LTE really that important and that much faster? Is it really that big a deal for the Moto G? I don’t think so and hopefully, after you read this article, you won’t either.

The Moto G will be sold off contract in 8GB and 16GB configurations for $179 and $199 respectively. Motorola has sought to make a high quality device with low end materials and specs. Along the way several compromises had to be made in order to keep costs down. The omission of an LTE antenna was one of them. Since this is a budget phone, the case can be made that LTE wasn't really necessary for a device of this caliber and price. In international markets, LTE networks aren't very common or readily available. That made the decision for Motorola much easier since it is targeting those markets first.

The Moto G supports:

GSM Model: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA+ up to 21 Mbps

The only 3G networks that make any real sense for using the Moto G are AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint and Verizon’s 3G networks are slower and have been left behind with so much emphasis on LTE networks. It would make very little sense to get one on these specific carriers other than for good coverage. AT&T has great coverage and their 3G/HSPA+ network peaks at 21mbps. T-Mobile, on the other hand, has great urban coverage and their 3G/HSPA+ network peaks at 42mbps. Taking advantage of T-Mobile’s HSPA+ 42 network would be wise as T-Mobile has eliminated contracts and promotes bringing your own device to their network. Buying a Moto G from T-Mobile with no money down will only increase your monthly bill by $7-8. I predict that T-Mobile will be a big partner for the Moto G and possibly AT&T as well.

There could be a chance that Motorola adds LTE support for the US launch but I believe it is content without it and can point to the Moto X as a LTE option. More likely is support for T-Mobile's HSPA+ 42 network.

Prepaid markets are where this device will flourish as many people on prepaid already buy their own device and select their service. This is a good option as many devices are not as powerful as the Moto G and are usually not running the latest version of Android or will be updated to the latest version.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were all on 3G networks and were pretty content. Even though technology advances and improves it doesn’t mean that 3G can’t be fast or reliable. For the last 7 months I was using a Samsung Galaxy S3 on T-Mobile which only has a HSPA+ 42 antenna. I was consistently getting speeds of 10-15mbps with good signal overall in Chicago. It is more than enough for Facebook, emails, web browsing, and YouTube videos. I never once felt that my internet speeds were too slow as long as I got a good connection.

What’s the difference then?

The difference is that the theoretical speed output on LTE is much higher.

“HSPA+ or Evolved High Speed Packet Access, is a souped-up version of HSUPA and HSDPA 3G standards with speeds comparable to the newer LTE networks. Theoretical speeds are said to feature download speeds up to 168Mbps and uplink of 22Mbps. These are, of course, theoretical speeds, with the actual speed available to users being much lower. While most HSPA+ networks around the world boast a theoretical 21Mbps(download) speed(AT&T), T-Mobile(USA) and Deutsche Telekom(Germany) feature 42Mbps networks.

On the other hand, LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is considered a “true” 4G network. Theoretical speeds boast downlink speeds of 300Mbps and uploads of 75Mbps. LTE, which is an IP-based system, is a complete redesign and simplification of 3G network architecture resulting in a marked reduction in transfer latency. Because of this, LTE is not compatible with 2G and 3G networks and thus, functions on an entirely different wireless spectrum. Unfortunately, this means that erecting an LTE network requires it to be built from the ground up. This is one of the main factors behind the delayed launch of complete 4G LTE networks.”

The Moto G is a solid device at a great price. Motorola’s goal is bring down the overall cost of a smartphone down and they are well on their way if they keep releasing phones like the Moto G. LTE is not a dealbreaker as service and coverage are more important than the faster speeds. For what you are capable of doing on a smartphone, 3G speeds are more than enough for the average person. If you are interested in a phone like the Moto G, chances are you won’t care if it has LTE as long as its fast and reliable. And if you do care about LTE, the Nexus 5 is only $349.

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