T-Mobile opened a new device lab, a 20,000 square foot facility built to test smartphones and any other devices that connect to its network using available technologies, including 5G, 4G LTE, 3G, LAA and Narrowband IoT. The space is made up of more than a dozen testing areas where T-Mobile engineers analyze and fine-tune everything from network signal quality, voice call and sound quality, data throughput and video optimization. They can also test the latest software, applications and services.
Devices are pressure tested for durability, even the ability to withstand extremes like heat, water, tumbles and drops. The lab also includes equipment designed specifically to test devices using low-band, mid-band and millimeter wave 5G spectrum. This enables T-Mobile engineers to tap into the carrier’s current and planned multi-band 5G network to ensure devices perform as expected.
The new device lab is in the middle of T-Mobile’s Launch Pad innovation center in Bellevue, Washington, which also houses its network lab. The new lab contains a Sub-6 GHz 5G Radio Performance Chamber to help engineers maximize T-Mobile’s network performance on mid- and low-band 5G smartphones. Using more than 50 antennas at different angles, it measures the signal level and quality the device can send and receive, with the goal of maximizing how far it can go from a cell site and maintain a good connection.
The new 5G Antenna Range was built specifically to test 5G on millimeter wave high-band spectrum, which requires what the carrier calls “extreme” precision when connecting to a device due to its very small wavelength. With a mmWave base station at one end of the room and a smartphone at the other, engineers ensure a quality signal is established and maintained as the phone is moving.
Inside the Hardware Testing Room, 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, submerged in water and tumbled in a meter-long metal box more than 100 times.
Engineers run a rough metal edge across each device screen to test scratch resistance. The drop test machine drops devices onto concrete from 14 different angles from up to one meter high. Devices are run through the drop test machine four times and engineers check for hardware reliability as well as performance after each drop using a high-speed camera to inspect how the device behaves when it hits the ground.
August 21, 2019
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