What frequency support to look for in unlocked phone?


    I've recently upgraded my wife to an unlocked Samsung Galaxy S9+.  I live outside of Boulder Colorado and with her phone I can get pretty amazing network speeds over LTE.  Her phone frequency bands are:


    4G LTE TDD: B38(2600),B39(1900),B40(2300),B41(2500),B46(5200)

    4G LTE FDD: B1(2100), B2(1900), B3(1800), B4(AWS), B5(850), B7(2600), B8(900), B12(700), B13(700), B14(700), B17(700), B18(800), B19(800), B20(800), B25(1900), B26(850), B28(700) ,B29(700), B30(2300), B66(AWS-3), B71(600)


    I purchased a phone from oversees (Huawei) and it's frequency bands are:

    4G LTE TDD: B34 / B38 / B39 / B40

    4G LTE FDD: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B6 / B7 / B8 / B9 / B12 / B17 / B18 / B19 / B20 / B26 / B28 / B32


    I'm lucky to get 10mbps on this phone.


    Which is the magical frequency that is missing that I should be looking for in a phone to get the best network performance?  I know that I'm taking things into my own hands doing it this way but T-Mobile only gives deals for new customers - they don't work very hard for those of us who have been customers since the VoiceStream days.

      All replies

      • snn555

        For full compatibility with T-Mobile's Network you need bands 2 4 12 66 and 71. if all you are getting is band 2 and 4 you are not getting the full spectrum and will see decreased speeds.


        also worth mentioning is I am using an unlocked Motorola X4 bought from Best buy which has all necessary bands other than 71 and also works on all four major carriers.  Motorola seems to be a decent company to buy from. Most of their phones work across all carriers and have all but proprietary bands like 71. Although I am sure that will change in due time.


        Also you should think about phones that have  v o l t e compatibility with T-Mobile. Also Wi-Fi calling.  Moto does this... And for a lot cheaper than Samsung. Huawei is going to be a hard company to work within the United States.

          • babaloo!

            Thanks so much snn555 that's exactly what I was looking for.  I've already initiated returning the Huawei but need to figure out what's next.

              • drnewcomb2

                The difference you're seeing between the S9+ and the Huawei may be due to carrier aggregation and MIMO rather than bands. In the Denver/Boulder market, T-Mobile has no AWS-3 licenses, so there's no advantage to band 66 over band 4. Also, the nearest band 71 deployment seems to be in Cheyenne. So, band 71 should not matter right now. 

                  • snn555

                    I'm not the most technically savvy person when it comes to all the AWS band frequencies aggregation etcetera but my phones run on band 66 pretty much all the time except in more rural areas between two major cities and they hang on to band 4.  I find that at least in my town band 66 has much less congested data speeds than four.

                      • drnewcomb2

                        Keep in mind that it's perfectly valid to transmit a band-66 MFBI on AWS-1. So your phone can report that it's on band-66 even though T-Mobile does not have an AWS-3 license anywhere nearby. Band-4 is a subset of band-66.

                          • britechguy

                            This is an observation, not a criticism:  And people wonder why everyone is confused about this!!


                            This band is a subset of that band, blah, blah, blah.   I am a tech geek by training and I have still never ironed out what all this means, and it's not because it would be impossible to do so but because the whole system for describing bands is whacked.


                            I had (and still have but not using) a Samsung Galaxy S7 that stayed consistently on Band 12 [if you look at what's reported by the Network Cell Info Lite app] and now have two Xiaomi devices that stay consistently on Band 4 here in the Shenandoah Valley.  I get great data speeds on the Samsung and the Xiaomis, but oddly enough the speed on either Xiaomi device is consistently faster.  Of course, in this area, there is no 3G service at all, so if you drop off of 4G/LTE you go down to 2G speed, making internet use anything from very frustrating to impossible.


                            There has got to be an easier way, and a consistent way, that cell service providers and device manufacturers can convey information about what bands they use.  Right now it seems like neither side wants the consumer to be able to make a clear, easy, and informed decision.  The service providers all want to drive you to buying only devices they market and the third-party device manufacturers of so-called global devices want you to believe those are fully compatible "almost everywhere" and they just aren't.


                            It's maddening!

                              • snn555

                                I concur that using band numbers is a lot easier than frequency numbers even though there are multiple frequencies on each band and blah blah blah confusion ensues. However there are some bands that Verizon uses for LTE that are on tmobile phones just so that they can roam when an agreement is in place. all of this information really needs to be clarified and put into simple easily read information.