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Hands on with China's TD-SCDMA 3G

Steven Schwankert | Nov. 11, 2008
To see how TD-SCDMA performs I took a couple of the first handsets out onto the streets of Beijing and liked their performance - it's the network that seems to be the problem.

The Longcheer design is somewhat flimsy. The USIM card seemed barely held in by its holder and the battery, alternately indicating that the card was or wasn't inside. Longcheer delivered better performance. Google's Chinese site loaded in a few seconds. PC World, on the other hand, took only about 30 seconds, although the phone's small screen mashed the text together and made it difficult to navigate. Longcheer uses the NetFront browser, which needs improvement, especially if the network and the handset can offer decent speed. That said, it also later failed to connect entirely for no apparent reason.

Call quality was fine although I found the sound to be slightly tinny. Both phones offer video calling, and the experience was similar for both -- Webcam quality (or slightly less) picture, somewhat jumpy, voice quality fine. This application has proven popular with Chinese users. Overall, I liked the speed of the network -- on the occasions when it worked -- for local sites, although coverage is clearly an issue and overseas sites with graphics load slowly. At 800 yuan (US$116) for an all-you-can-use data and voice trial plan, TD-SCDMA may have a temporary spike in use, but it's unlikely users will stick around long-term unless the network and handsets improve. Hopefully 4G isn't too far off.


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