RESEARCH PAPER: The Importance of Leading-Edge Modem Technology

By Patrick Moorhead - February 27, 2015
As power consumption of smartphone processors and displays continues to decrease, modems become a focal point of the power consumption discussion. The modem is, without a doubt, one of the most crucial parts of the smartphone in today’s connected society. With 4G LTE, users consume orders-of-magnitude more data than with 3G. Increased consumption, paired with the advent of cloud technologies, requires that smartphones always be connected to the network—always sending data back and forth. As a result, the modem and RF frontend have become pivotal components of the smartphone in enabling connectivity and doing so without impacting battery life. Modem vendors have undertaken efforts to improve not only the performance of their modems but also power consumption as well. The combination delivers the best experience for the end user, and it also brings benefits to the wireless carrier. In the US, wireless carriers themselves are the predominant smartphone purchase channel, and carriers prefer their smartphone vendors to adopt the most efficient and highest throughput modems available. This preference improves the overall experience that their customers have on their network, and it maximizes carriers’ network efficiency. This paper describes test results of LTE modems from Qualcomm and Samsung on throughput, power consumption, and antenna tuner capability.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Test Results
  • Category 4 LTE Throughput Comparison
  • Category 9 LTE Throughput
  • Category 4 Modem Power Consumption
  • Antenna Matching Tuner
  • All LTE Modems Are Not The Same
  • Figure 1: Power Consumption: 4G LTE Category 4 Fully Saturated
  • Table 1: Power Consumption Comparison: Baseline = Qualcomm 810 Test Smartphone
  • Table 2: Antenna Matching Tuner: Open Vs. Closed Loop
You can download the paper here.

Companies Cited

  • Anritsu
  • Apple
  • LG
  • Qualcomm
  • Rohde & Schwarz
  • Samsung

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Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.