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Qualcomm proposes 'finer-grained' metrics for 3G handsets

Posted: 24 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:3G handsets? handset metrics? CDMA phones?

With the influx of new 3G phones, users should be able to make cellphone purchase decisions based on clearly defined metrics that go well beyond today's ubiquitous talk and standby times, according to Jeffrey B. Sampsell, VP for technology at Qualcomm MEMS.

Sampsell made the case for such handset metrics as "video time," "average use time" and "multimedia time" at a business conference May 21 running in conjunction with the Society for Information Display-sponsored Display Week. Not coincidentally, Qualcomm claims its interferometric modulator (Imod) displays, based on MEMS technology, yield theoretically superior performance to LCDs under the expanded set of metrics it is proposing.

Gas mileage model
At the business conference, Sampsell called automakers' gas mileage rating system a model for the finer-grained stats that Qualcomm envisions for cellphones. He added that "the cellphone's metrics should be based on the natural activities of an average cellphone user."

Handset vendors and service providers today add value to cellphones by offering adjuncts such as SMS, location-based services, GPS navigation and video in broadcast, streaming and cache modes. Those functions all deplete the battery power available in the phone, he noted.

"Current cellphone metrics [talk and standby time] are essentially measures of energy; they tell you how long you can talk [or stand by] before the energy in your battery is exhausted," he said. "It's not power consumption that is important [to the consumer] but energy consumption: At the end of the day, will I have enough energy left in my battery to do with my phone the things I want to do?" As the list of things consumers want to do on handsets expands, so should the array of performance stats quoted for phones, he said.

The proposed metrics are energy-based, Sampsell said. By modeling video, average and multimedia metrics for two hypothetical CDMA phonesone with an Imod display and one with an LCDQualcomm created a typical usage pattern during an average day: 90mins of talk time, 30mins of keyboard work (SMS, contact lookup, note-taking, etc.), 30mins of Web connectivity, 30mins of MP3 play time and 20mins of GPS navigation. The battery power left after this average day's usage is expressed in terms of the amount of video-watching time remaining.

Specs sticker
Using that scenario, the LCD-based phone's "sticker" would quote 2.9hrs of video time, 51mins of average use time and 26mins of multimedia time, Sampsell said, whereas the Imod phone's sticker would promise 3.7hrs of video time, 142mins of average use time and 88mins of multimedia time.

"Much work remains to determine an optimally informative set of metrics," Sampsell acknowledged. But he asserted that more finely parsed gauges would provide the consumer with a clearer idea of the performance a given handset could deliver to exploit new applications and capabilities.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times

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