LONDON &$151; There are enormous variations in voice call performance amongst leading brands of high-end mobile phones, an independent test has shown.
Said to be the first such performance test of its type in Europe and carried out by test house Broadband-Testing of Andorra, using gear from Spirent Communications, "the results clearly show that all mobile phones are indeed not created equal when it comes to successfully making a voice call, or not dropping a voice call, under a range of operating conditions," the company said.
The high end/smartphone models scrutinized included two from RIM and one each from Apple, Samsung, Nokia and Sony Ericsson.
"Although consumers tend to blame the network for failed or dropped calls, the results of this testing clearly highlight the contribution that the handset itself can make to these problems," commented Steve Broadhead, Founder and Director, Broadband-Testing.
Broadhead said that while the test conditions were challenging, they were representative of those that many users will encounter daily. Testing was carried out under network conditions found at the edge of a cell, as well as during handovers between cells or between 2G and 3G networks.
The tests included emulation of real-world conditions that represented the handset being stationary, as well as moving at pedestrian and at vehicular speeds.
They indicated that no one handset could offer optimal performance in all conditions, and some really struggled to cope in certain network environments that occur in everyday usage.
"With the Spirent testbed we were able to identify which handsets only perform well in relatively static environments, and which have better call reliability performance when used on the move - either by a pedestrian or in a moving car or public transport, for example," said Broadhead.
"Ironically, some of the handsets proved to be less than effective when the user is actually, well, mobile! For example, the Blackberry Storm really struggled when having to hand over between 3G and 2G cells – still a very common occurrence."
The results also show the difference a firmware upgrade can make. The Apple iPhone 3G was tested with both its original 2.0 firmware and the 2.2 upgrade and turned a smart phone that was almost unusable (as a phone) into one of the best performers in the test.
With sales of smartphones actually increasing despite the global recession, Broadband-Testing believes the requirement for testing not just call reliability but also data and video performance is paramount.
"At the moment, people are simply buying into what are often very expensive mobile subscriptions on features and faith alone, before discovering they are tied in to a long-term contract with a handset that simply performs badly. We want to inform users so they are able to apply pressure on the handset vendors and operators alike to improve the performance of the phones before they go to market," said Broadhead.
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