What you need to know

  • T-Mobile has opened a new 20,000 square foot device lab to test its network and connected devices.
  • Located in Bellevue Washington, it has more than a dozen rooms with many of them dedicated to 5G testing.
  • Machines will be used to test devices, simulating a week's worth of usage in just 24 hours.

T-Mobile has a new 20,000 square foot device lab it just opened to test 5G, 4G LTE, 3G, LAA, Narrowband IoT, smartphones, and more. The new facility is located in Bellevue, Washington in the middle of T-Mobile's Launch Pad innovation center and includes more than a dozen testing areas.

T-Mobile engineers analyze and fine-tune everything from network signal quality, voice call and sound quality, data throughput and video optimization … to in-depth testing of the latest software, applications and services.

This is where T-Mobile will test out its 5G spectrum with specialized rooms such as the Sub-6GHz 5G Radio Performance Chamber and the 5G Millimeter-Wave Antenna Range rooms.

The Sub-6GHz 5G Radio Performance Chamber houses more than 50 antennas at different angles to test the signal quality to make certain that, "T-Mobile's nationwide 600 MHz 5G spectrum has the best and biggest coverage possible."

In the 5G Millimeter-Wave Antenna Range room, T-Mobile engineers test the high-band spectrum, "which requires extreme precision when connecting to a device due to its very small wavelength." These tests will help ensure that a phone in motion will stay connected.

Besides testing out its own network, the new T-Mobile device lab will test out the software and hardware of devices ranging from smartphones to IoT devices — pretty much anything that will connect to its network now and in the future.

In the software lab, T-Mobile uses machines to simulate a week's worth of usage in only 24 hours.

Everything from the keyboard, user interface speeds (how responsive the software is), battery life, music, voice calls, gaming, videos and photos, text messaging, e-mail, web browsing, app downloads and more. Devices must run continuously for 24 hours and perform hundreds of tasks without a single hiccup, stall, freeze or glitch.

The hardware testing room is where all the fun happens, though. In here, T-Mobile has some rigs to put devices through extreme tests.

Every device is exposed to extreme temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit at 90 percent humidity and as low as zero degrees for one week, submerged in water and tumbled in a meter-long metal box more than 100 times.

Engineers run a rough metal edge across each device screen to test scratch resistance. The drop test machine drops devices onto concrete from 14 different angles from up to one meter high.

Devices are run through the drop test machine four times and engineers check for hardware reliability as well as performance after each drop utilizing a high-speed camera to inspect exactly how the device behaves when it hits the ground. Ouch!

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