Although the Samsung Galaxy Nexus will work on long-term evolution networks in the 700MHz spectrum, the timing wasn't right to make the device LTE compatible in Australia, according to Samsung.
Tyler McGee (Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is touted in the US as a "4G" phone because it supports both HSPA+ and LTE. However, in Australia, only the HSPA+ feature is boasted, despite Telstra having launched its LTE network in a number of cities across Australia in September, with Optus and Vodafone to follow in the near future.
This is because the device only supports LTE in the 700MHz spectrum band, which is currently being used by Verizon in the US. In Australia, however, Telstra is using recycled 2G spectrum in the 1800MHz band, and Optus has announced it will follow suit when it launches its LTE network in April.
While the 3G functionality in the Galaxy Nexus is designed to work across multiple spectrum bands, making the device compatible for LTE in the 1800MHz band would mean altering it before the Australian launch.
At a briefing today coinciding with the Australian launch of the smartphone, Samsung Electronics Australia vice president of telecommunications, Tyler McGee, told ZDNet Australia that the timing of the launch of the device meant that it wasn't possible to tweak the device to be compatible with Telstra's LTE network.
He said that Samsung would likely release a device compatible with LTE in Australia as consumer demand for LTE increases.
However, it's likely that Australia will also see 700MHz LTE in the future in any case. Next year, the Australian Communications and Media Authority will auction off the 700MHz spectrum from the digital dividend. This spectrum is being eyed by the telcos for use on LTE networks, and would harmonise Australia's LTE networks with those deployed overseas.
The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the first smartphone to run the latest Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich. It supports features such as "face unlock", allowing users to unlock their phone through facial recognition technology, as well as "Android Beam", which lets users share data between two Samsung Galaxy Nexus phones. It also has support for near-field communications technology that will allow banking transactions to be performed using the device through applications such as Google Wallet, which has yet to be made available in Australia.
The device is available for the recommended retail price of $799 outright, or on a number of plans through Telstra, Vodafone and Optus. Telstra launched the Samsung Galaxy Nexus today, but it is expected that Optus and Vodafone will have the device in-store as early as tomorrow.