Spirent Partners with Signals Research Group to Benchmark Antenna Performance of Smartphones

Study reveals MIMO OTA performance of fifteen popular smartphones, representing four chipset suppliers, over three frequencies per device

Sunnyvale, Calif. – November 5, 2015 – Spirent Communications, the leading provider of verification, assessment, analytics, and device intelligence solutions, today announced that it collaborated with Signals Research Group (SRG) to benchmark the data throughput performance of mobile devices using MIMO Over-The-Air (OTA) antenna test methodology. A key finding of this study was that some smartphones outperform others by 50 percent or more.

Michael Thelander, president and founder of the Signals Research Group believes the study shows that price does not always equate to performance. “The ‘good news’ is that some value-based smartphones are available with great RF performance,” said Thelander.  “The findings also show that devices perform differently across the various bands, so getting a great 4G LTE experience may be achieved by different devices in each market.”

Using an anechoic chamber-based test setup, the study evaluated the performance of fifteen commercial smartphone devices that use modem chips from four different suppliers with band combinations ranging from low to medium to high. The key takeaways of this study include the following:
  • There was a large variance of results in the performance across the devices. In some cases the top performing device outperformed its peers by 50 percent or more at moderate SNR values.
  • Emphasis needs to be placed on validating the RF antenna design, which impacts RF performance, in turn influencing end user experience.
  • Two of the best performing smartphones in the study were “value-priced” smartphones, indicating a disparity between price and performance. 
  • Most smartphones experienced degradation in performance in at least one frequency band. 

“This is the first independent study to evaluate MIMO OTA performance across a wide variety of devices and is well timed as the CTIA released the MIMO OTA test plan v1.0 several months ago,” said Ron Borsato, Principal Architect at Spirent Communications and co-chair CTIA OTA working group.  “The next few months are critical as test solution vendors and labs gain authorization through the CTIA audit process and drive the mandate for this test plan.”  

PCTEST Engineering Laboratory, Inc. and Electro Magnetic Testing, Inc., who are both CTIA Authorized Test Labs (CATLs) for the current SISO OTA test plan, were key contributors to the study.  In addition to being MIMO OTA ready test labs, these labs provided engineering and lab support to test more devices than is typical for this type of study.   The study also verified the accuracy of the test plan, as some devices were tested in both labs and obtained equivalent results.

This study is the latest in a series of collaborations between Spirent and Signals Research Group on data performance of mobile devices.  For deeper insights and an interactive Q&A session on MIMO OTA test methodology, the SRG benchmark study and the CTIA Test Plan, register for a joint webinar hosted by Spirent Communications and the Signals Research Group. 

For a more detailed report of the test by the Signals Research Group, “Chips and Salsa XX:  When Iconic meets Anechoic, Part II, Over-the-Air (OTA) MIMO performance results of Fifteen Smartphones – from Apple to ZTE”, visit the consultancy’s website at www.signalsresearch.com.