T-Mobile has opened a 20,000 square foot device testing lab in its Launch Pad Innovation Center in Bellevue, WA. The lab will analyze performance of and pressure-test 5G, 4G LTE, LAA, Narrowband IoT and other devices.

Elements tested will include network signal quality, voice call and sound quality, data throughput, video optimization and durability.

The main testing areas include:

  • The Sub-6 GHz 5G Radio Performance Chamber. This is designed to optimize performance on mid- and low-band 5G smartphones. It consists of more than 50 antennas set at different angles to measure the quality of signals sent and received.
  • The 5G Millimeter Wave Antenna Range tests 5G on millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum.
  • The Multi-band 5G SmartLab Chambers focuses on the carrier’s current and planned 5G spectrum. Engineers use the chambers to test performance and interactions of different combinations of spectrum and technology.
  • The Software Performance Lab tests hundreds of functions on every device, including the keyboard, user interface speeds (software responsiveness), battery life, music, voice calls, gaming, videos and photos, text messaging, e-mail, web browsing, app downloads and more. A week’s worth of usage is tested in 24 hours.
  • The Hardware Pressure Testing Room, according to T-Mobile, “tumbles, scratches, heats, freezes, submerges and drops devices to test their durability. Every device is exposed to extreme temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit at 90 percent humidity and as low as zero degrees for one week.” Among other things, devices also are submerged in water and tumbled in a meter-long metal box more than 100 times.

“5G will unlock SO MANY new capabilities and opportunities for innovation. And with that comes new complexities in delivering the technology to customers,” said T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray in a press release. “We’ve evolved in this new era of wireless to deliver continuous innovation and the best 5G experience possible — from the network to the devices in their hands — which is why I’m So. Damn. Proud. of this amazing team and cutting-edge lab.”

The Device Lab figures to be a busy place, especially if a combined T-Mobile – Sprint carrier emerges. Both Sprint and T-Mobile intend to leverage mid- and low-band spectrum for 5G. Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. Though not a done deal – the California Public Service Commission still must approve and a lawsuit by several states seeking to block the merger still is in the courts.

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