July 18, 2013

The Next Generation of 4G Arrives in the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A

4G LTE-A launches in Korea.

4G LTE-A launches in Korea.

Any new high end smartphone launch from Samsung tends to be a big deal, as the company are one of the biggest and best phone makers in the world, but the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A is even more exciting because not only is it new and tremendously powerful, but it also represents the next generation of 4G.

It’s the world’s first smartphone to support LTE-A, which is to say the ‘advanced’ version of LTE – or 4G. In practice it works by combining multiple frequencies and using them as one, while standard 4G just uses a single frequency. The result is speeds that are up to twice as fast as standard 4G, which brings it pretty close to home broadband speeds.

But the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A isn’t just an S4 with LTE credentials, as the hardware has seen an upgrade too. It’s packing a 2.3Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor – while the standard S4 has a comparatively meagre 1.9Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor. In all other areas it’s the same top end package as the Samsung Galaxy S4, complete with a 5 inch 441 pixels per inch Super AMOLED screen, a 13 megapixel camera and the latest version of Android (Jelly Bean version 4.2.2). You can also expect the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A to ship with all the bells and whistles of the standard Galaxy S4, such as S-Translate, S-Health, Sound Shot and Air Gesture. 

However as it’s an LTE-A device you won’t be able to make full use of it without a network which supports LTE-A. In Samsung’s home country of South Korea the network SK Telecom will soon be launching an LTE-A network capable of speeds of up to 150Mbps, so the Galaxy S4 LTE-A will be launching there first. However most of the rest of the world isn’t quite so prepared. Russia has a network capable of LTE-A, so it may launch there at some point and some US networks are supposedly working on upgrading their infrastructure to support LTE-A, but they’re not ready yet. The situation in the rest of the world and notably in the UK is less optimistic. Carriers here are by and large still scrambling to launch standard 4G so it seems likely that it will be a while before there’s any sign of LTE-A.

Without LTE-A it’s very unlikely that we’ll get the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A, which is a shame because it really does look like a beast of a handset. Those lucky South Korean customers will be able to get it in a choice of ‘Blue Arctic or ‘Red Aurora’. No pricing has yet been announced but you can expect it to slot in at the very top end of the market.

If or when we ever do get a sniff of the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A or for that matter LTE-A itself – in the UK we’ll be sure to let you know. But if you want the handset any time soon you might have to emigrate.

  • CuriousJoe

    I dont understand the argument that because UK dont have LTE-A, we are unlikely to get this phone.
    Even having current 4G with EE, we dont get max speeds, 3G supports up to 7.2 Mbps which is not delivered at all.
    So i dont see the point in that argument.

    What i see is the fact that its top of the shelf phone, with great CPU/GPU and we should be able to buy it, regardless of the LTE-A availability.

    Its like when the iPads start selling in France, on ads Apple said it will run with 4g, while France didnt have any 4g at the time – still, ipad with support of fast inet was sold at a time.

    I would like to know the real reasoning behind such a limited markt for this, or any other phone released just locally, like Korea. Its not the first case.

  • Muzaffer

    I agree, but nevertheless very good article