Tuesday, March 31, 2015

International Phones and Devices: Spring 2015 Update (Samsung S6)

The Samsung Galaxy S6 release is the big thing this season, so as promised in my previous post about determining whether your international GSM world phone will get 4G LTE when you travel, I'm here to provide an update for some of the latest offerings on the market. Now, this post isn't about comparing the processor speed or other features between the devices, since there are plenty of those kind of sites out there (like this one from Business Insider). My focus is on "will my phone work in country X?" As I mentioned earlier, I have a very detailed post about determining whether your international GSM world phone will get 4G LTE, but I'll give you the abridged version here if you want to refresh your memory:
  • GSM vs CDMA (Modes) usage by country
  • Frequency Bands (850/900/1800/1900Hz) by country
  • LTE Bands (1-44) in use, and by which country
    • LTE-TDD (time-division duplexing) vs. LTE-FDD (frequency-division duplexing)
    • "While the majority of the global LTE market is based on FDD-LTE technology, TDD-LTE, the alternative LTE technology, is expected to see increased adoption in the US, China, Australia, Middle East, Northern and Eastern Europe, and Southwest Asia, and to gain a more pronounced position in the global LTE market,"
Since those links should help you determine what's at your destination, here are the technical specs the flagship handheld devices available in Spring 2015.
  • Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air 2 / iPad mini 3
  • Blackberry Z30
  • Google Nexus 6 and Nexus 9
  • Samsung: Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and Note 4
You might also want to read my related post about choosing the right adapter for international travel so you don't blow out your electronics, but I'll let you be decide if that's of interest to you.


So, without further delay, let's get down to whether your smartphone or device will work in the country you're planning to travel to.

Apple iPads
I'm not really a big fan of Apple products in general, but I will concede that they did an impressive job including all of those LTE bands in the iPad Air 2.


iPad Air 2
(Model A1567)
Single Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 (700c MHz)
17 (700b MHz)
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
28 (700 APT MHz)
29 (700de MHz)
38 (TD 2600)
39 (TD 1900)
40 (TD 2300)
41 (TD 2500)
iPad Air
(Model A1475)
US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 (700c MHz)
17 (700b MHz)
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
28 *not included*
29 *not included*
38 *not included*
39 *not included*
40 *not included*
41 *not included*
iPad Air
(Model A1476)
Non - US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
*not included*
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 *not included*
17 *not included*
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 *not included*
26 *not included*
28 *not included*
29 *not included*
38 (TD 2600)
39 (TD 1900)
40 (TD 2300)
41 *not included*

iPad mini 3 (Model A1600)
US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 (700c MHz)
17 (700b MHz)
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
38 *not included*
39 *not included*
40 *not included*
iPad mini 3 (Model A1601)
Non - US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 *not included*
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 *not included*
17 *not included*
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 *not included*
26 *not included*
38 (TD 2600)
39 (TD 1900)
40 (TD 2300)

iPad mini 2 (Model A1490)
US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 (700c MHz)
17 (700b MHz)
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
38 *not included*
39 *not included*
40 *not included*
iPad mini 2 (Model A1491)
Non - US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
*not included*
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 *not included*
17 *not included*
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 *not included*
26 *not included*
38 (TD 2600)
39 (TD 1900)
40 (TD 2300)

iPhone 6 (Model A1549)
iPhone 6 Plus (Model A1522)
US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 (700c MHz)
17 (700b MHz)
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
28 (800 MHz)
29 (700 de MHZ)
38 *not included*
39 *not included*
40 *not included*
41 *not included*
iPhone 6 (Model A1586)
iPhone 6 Plus (Model A1524)
Non - US Version
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
13 (700c MHz)
17 (700b MHz)
18 (800 MHz)
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
28 (800 MHz)
29 (700 de MHZ)
38 (TD 2600)
39 (TD 1900)
40 (TD 2300)
41 (TD 2500)





Blackberry Z30
The federal government loves the Blackberry, so I got issued one at post. The Z30 is the closest full-screen device that Blackberry offers to compare to Samsung, Apple, and Nexus models. Unfortunately, it comes in six different models (STA100-1 through STA100-6), none of which really can compete with the other brands. It's so bad that I had to adjust my chart to show the models [-1 to -6] in one table just to make it look better.
To its credit though, I will say though that I really like being able to switch between my work account and my personal account (but our IT guys have locked down some features that you'd normally expect to have, like the ability to download popular apps...if they even exist for the BB).
BlackBerry Z30 [model number]

Blackberry Z30 STA100-2 & Blackberry Z30 STA100-5
2 (1900 MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-1]
3 (1800 MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-2,-6]
4 (AWS) Z30 Models: [STA100-1,-3,-5]
5 (850 MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-1,-5]
7 (2600 MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-2,-5,-6]
8 (900 MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-2,-6]
13 (700c MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-3]
17 (700b MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-1]
20 (800 DD MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-2,-6]
25 (1900 MHz) Z30 Models: [STA100-4]





Google Nexus 6 & Nexus 9
I really want to like the straight from the OS manufacturer devices like the Google Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet, but they are showing up a little weak on the one thing I care most about: connectivity. I don't always have Wi-Fi just sitting around. Except, of course when I'm at home...but in my case, my home internet is actually pulled in from a 4G router. So, why can't my devices do the same thing? I just don't see the point.

Nexus 9 
(HTC)

1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
Nexus 6 
US Version
*not included*
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
*not included*
*not included*
12 (700)
13 (700c MHz)
17 (700c MHz)
19 *not included*
20 *not included*
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
28 *not included*
29 (700de MHz)
41 (TD 2500)
Nexus 6
Rest of World
1 (2100 MHz)
*not included*
3 (1800 MHz)
*not included*
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
9 (1800) UMTS
12 *not included*
13 *not included*
17 *not included*
19 (800 MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
25 *not included*
26 *not included*
28 (700 APT MHz)
29 *not included*
41 (TD 2500)





Samsung
The Galaxy S6 release date is set for April 10, 2015, so I'll confirm the info below when I get my hands on it. I like the Samsung models, and we'd looked at the Samsung Galaxy S5 last summer before we moved to Saudi Arabia just in case my wife's Motorola Razr Maxx wouldn't work in Saudi Arabia (fortunately, it did, so we didn't need to shell out any money to replace a perfectly functional handset). Samsung also has a number of wearable smart devices (like the Samsung Gear 2 Neo Smartwatch)for exercising that made it a very appealing replacement option. That said, Samsung really seems to prefer making a variety of models tailored for individual markets (at least in the US), so you're less likely to get a robust international handset. (LTE Band Source). Just so you know, there is an international version that can work in the US, but you're probably not going to be able to buy it in stores. I've included that chart below the US ones.

Samsung S6
A3LSMG920A
(AT&T)

2 (1900 MHz)
*not incl'd*
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
*not incl'd*
*not incl'd*
12 (700)
13 *not incl'd*
17 (700b MHz)
25 *not incl'd*
26 *not incl'd*
29 (700 de MHZ)
30 (2300 MHz)
41 *not incl'd*
Samsung S6
A3LSMG920P
(Sprint)

*not incl'd*
*not incl'd*
4 (AWS)
*not incl'd*
*not incl'd*
*not incl'd*
12 (700)
13 *not incl'd*
17 *not incl'd*
25 (1900 MHz)
26 (800 MHz)
29 *not incl'd*
30 *not incl'd*
41 (TD 2500)
Samsung S6
A3LSMG920T
(T-Mobile)

2 (1900 MHz)
*not incl'd*
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
*not incl'd*
*not incl'd*
12 (700)
13 *not incl'd*
17 (700b MHz)
25 *not incl'd*
26 *not incl'd*
29 *not incl'd*
30 *not incl'd*
41 *not incl'd*
Samsung S6
A3LSMG920V
(Verizon)

2 (1900 MHz)
*not incl'd*
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
*not incl'd*
*not incl'd*
12 *not incl'd*
13 (700c MHz)
17 *not incl'd*
25 *not incl'd*
26 *not incl'd*
29 *not incl'd*
30 *not incl'd*
41 *not incl'd*

Samsung S6
A3LSMG920I
"international"

1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
12 (700)
13 *not incl'd*
17 (700b MHz)
25 *not incl'd*
26 *not incl'd*
29 *not incl'd*
30 *not incl'd*
41 *not incl'd*

There are so many versions of the Galaxy Note 4 that it requires a table to keep sorted, and it would make for a really ugly chart so I only listed three you can get on Amazon. However, Samsung has come out with an LTE-A Tri-band CA enabled Galaxy Note 4 S-LTE in Korea that offers LTE-A tri-band aggregation to effectively use three different frequency bands simultaneously to get bandwidth up to 450 Mbps. That's crazy fast, but only if you can access all of those bands.



Samsung Galaxy Note 4
SM-N910F(Europe)

1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
*not included*
12 *not included*
17 (700b MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
SM-N910C
(Asia/Europe/
South America)
1 (2100 MHz)
2 (1900 MHz)
3 (1800 MHz)
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 (2600 MHz)
8 (900 MHz)
12 *not included*
17 (700b MHz)
20 (800 DD MHz)
SM-N910A
(US, AT&T)

*not included*
2 (1900 MHz)
*not included*
4 (AWS)
5 (850 MHz)
7 *not included*
*not included*
12 (700)
17 (700b MHz)
20 *not included*


Conclusion: The Apple iPad Air 2 is really the most international tablet out there. Samsung's S6 looks like a serious contender to against the iPhone, but once again the required diversity for the American market comes at the expense of international capabilities. Blackberry just isn't showing up, and the Google Nexus line still struggles with lacking the number of LTE bands it really should have. That said, personal preference and intended usage really are what matter. So if it works for you, great!

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