Why is band 20 missing on so many China smartphones?

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In today's digital world, mobile communications are an essential part of our daily lives. Whether we are contacting friends and family, sending business emails, E-Commerce or using streaming services, the quality and speed of our mobile connections are crucial. A key factor in the performance of mobile networks is the use of frequency bands known as LTE bands. These bands allow mobile operators to transmit data over the air, ensuring fast and reliable communications. 

One of these bands is LTE Band 20, which is used for mobile communications in many countries and by many operators. But what exactly is LTE Band 20, why is it so important for mobile communications, and why is it often missing from China smartphones? Because many of you want to get, for example, the latest Xiaomi 13 Ultra and wonder, can I use it at all without band 20, is it worth buying? In this article, we explain the technical specifications of LTE Band 20, why it is often missing in China smartphones and whether it is really that important for you.

What is LTE Band 20?

Band 20 LTE 4G

LTE Band 20, also known as the 800 MHz band, is a frequency band used for mobile communications in the LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network. LTE is a fourth-generation (4G) mobile technology that offers faster data transmission and better network coverage than its predecessors 3G and 2G.

LTE Band 20 operates in the frequency range of 832 - 862 MHz for the uplink (UL) and 791 - 821 MHz for the downlink (DL), with a total width of 30 MHz. The uplink refers to the transmission of data from the mobile device to the network, while the downlink is the transmission of data from the network to the mobile device.

The use of LTE Band 20 offers several advantages for mobile communications. First, the low frequency of 800 MHz allows for better indoor penetration and greater outdoor coverage compared to higher frequencies. Second, Band 20 offers flexible bandwidth, ranging from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz, allowing mobile operators to adjust network capacity and performance as needed. Finally, Band 20 supports both time division duplex (TDD) and frequency division duplex (FDD), enabling efficient use of the available spectrum.

TDD and FDD in LTE Band 20

In mobile communications, there are two main technologies for duplex transmission of data: Time Division Duplex (TDD) and Frequency Division Duplex (FDD). Both technologies are used in LTE Band 20 to enable efficient use of the available frequency spectrum.

TDD (Time Division Duplex)

TDD uses a single frequency band for the uplink and the downlink, with transmission taking place in successive time slots. This means that the uplink and downlink are transmitted alternately on the same frequency band. TDD is particularly useful in scenarios where traffic is uneven in both directions because the time slots can be allocated dynamically as needed.

FDD (Frequency Division Duplex)

FDD uses two separate frequency bands for the uplink and the downlink, with transmission taking place simultaneously on both bands. This means that the uplink and downlink are transmitted on different frequency bands, enabling continuous bidirectional communication. FDD is particularly useful in scenarios where traffic is even in both directions because the frequency bands are fixed.

In LTE Band 20, both TDD and FDD are used to enable efficient use of the available spectrum. The choice between TDD and FDD depends on various factors, including network topology, traffic patterns and regulatory requirements.

Volume 20 in Europe and China

In Europe, LTE Band 20 is an important frequency for mobile communications. It operates in the 800 MHz range and is often used in rural areas where mobile cells have to cover a larger area. The lower frequency of 800 MHz allows for greater range and better penetration of buildings. In China, on the other hand, other LTE bands are preferred, which operate at higher frequencies and enable higher data transmission rates.

Chinese smartphone manufacturers, such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, RealmeRedmi or ZTE focus on the domestic market and adapt their devices to the LTE bands used in China. Since band 20 is not widely used in China, plus each frequency costs extra license fees, many manufacturers see no reason to support this band in their devices. However, this can lead to problems when these devices are used in Europe, especially in rural areas where band 20 is more commonly used.

The lack of support for LTE band 20 can lead to limited connectivity and slower data transfer rates when Chinese smartphones are used in Europe. However, this should be less of a problem in urban areas where other LTE bands are available. Some Chinese smartphone manufacturers offer special global versions of their devices that support Band 20 and other LTE bands used in Europe. 

Comparison of LTE Band 20 with other LTE bands

LTE Band 20 is one of many LTE bands used in mobile communications. Each band has its own frequencies, bandwidths and applications. In the following, we compare LTE Band 20 with some other common LTE bands:

  • LTE Band 1 (2100 MHz): This band is mainly used in Asia and Europe and offers a good mix of range and capacity. However, it is more susceptible to interference and has lower building penetration than band 20.
  • LTE Band 3 (1800 MHz): This band is used worldwide and offers good network performance in urban areas. However, it has a lower range and building penetration than band 20.
  • LTE Band 7 (2600 MHz): This band is mainly used in Europe and Asia and offers high capacity and data transmission rate. However, it has a lower range and building penetration than band 20.
  • LTE Band 28 (700 MHz): This band is used in some countries in Asia and South America and offers excellent range and building penetration. However, it has a lower capacity and data transmission rate than band 20.

Compared to these bands, LTE Band 20 offers a good mix of range, capacity and building penetration. It is particularly useful in rural areas and in buildings where other bands may not work as well. However, choosing the best LTE band depends on several factors, including network topology, traffic patterns, and regulatory requirements.

Future of LTE Band 20

LTE Band 20 is expected to continue to play an important role in mobile communications for years to come. Despite the advent of 5G, the next generation of mobile technology, LTE will continue to play an important role in the global communications infrastructure. LTE Band 20 will continue to be particularly important in areas with low population density and in buildings where higher frequency bands are less effective.

Band 20, while still important, is also currently being replaced by Band 1,3,7 or 8 in many areas. The higher data transmission rate in a small area means you get more speed and better reception in metropolitan areas. However, it is important to know that LTE is the technology that is currently spreading the most, while UMTS, i.e. 3G, is currently already being dismantled in many countries or the masts are being upgraded to 4G.

Furthermore, 5G coverage is increasing in many countries. Coverage in Shenzhen is very extensive and an infrastructure expansion plan was recently unveiled with the goal of installing 10,000 additional 5G base stations by 2023. China has already expanded its 5G network to over 1.15 million base stations, more than the rest of the world combined. Shenzhen Metro has also implemented Huawei's industry-leading Urban Rail Cloud Solution, which leverages cloud computing, Big Data, 5G, and artificial intelligence (AI) to build a complete 5G network in the U-Bahn bereitzustellen.

LTE BAND 20

Frequently asked questions

If you do not have 4G reception with band 20, your smartphone will try to connect to other available LTE bands. In Europe, Band 3 (1800 MHz) and Band 7 (2600 MHz) are also commonly used. If no LTE bands are available, your smartphone will fall back to 3G or 2G.

You can easily find out by looking at the specifications here or by using the compatibility wizard. It shows you exactly which frequencies are supported by the smartphone and your country.

Yes, VoLTE (Voice over LTE) offers better call quality and faster call connections compared to traditional voice calls. If your smartphone and mobile carrier support VoLTE, it should be enabled.

LTE+ (also known as 4.5G) offers faster speeds (at up to 1 Gbps) than traditional LTE, but 5G (at up to 10 Gbps) is typically even faster and offers additional benefits such as lower latency.

LTE is expected to remain in place for many years and will operate in parallel with 5G. The alternatives to LTE are 5G for higher speeds and 3G for broader coverage in some areas.

Switching from 4G to 5G can make sense if you need higher speeds and lower latency. However, the decision depends on the availability of 5G in your region and the cost of 5G tariffs.

Band 3 is another frequency that is used for LTE. The main difference between Band 20 and Band 3 is the frequencies used. Band 20 uses the 800 MHz frequency, while Band 3 uses the 1800 MHz frequency.

Band 20 signal strength can vary depending on several factors, including distance to the nearest tower and network load. Where band 20 (800MHz) can cover about 10km, you only get 5km coverage on band 7 (2.6GHz).

Find the right smartphone with perfect compatibility

At TradingShenzhen, compatibility is especially important to us. We know that it is crucial for our customers to have a smartphone that works in their country and with their provider. That's why we have developed a COMPATIBILITY ASSISTANT that you can find on every product page. The big yellow button shows you if the smartphone fits to your country and provider and which frequencies are supported or missing.

We have built our database with the help of two sites:

  • CellMapper shows the frequencies in a certain area. There you can also inform yourself and see the actual frequencies that are currently used in the place where you are.
  • Spectrum Tracker is a general page. It shows the frequencies that are specified by the providers, but are not always used at the respective location, but only in general.

Another highlight is our normal ASSISTENT, which you can find in the upper right corner. There, you can put together your desired smartphone based on features, and of course, one option is the availability of band 20. 

A good app that you could use to find out for yourself which frequency is currently being used is Cell Info Lite on Android. This will let you see what band your phone is currently connected to. If band 20 is available, the phone will often connect to band 20. If band 20 is not supported by the phone, you may have 3G or 2G, or even better reception with band 7 or 8, as they have higher frequencies and therefore offer faster speeds. As you can see, it's not easy and blanket to say.

At TradingShenzhen, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with the best possible assistance in choosing the right smartphone. Our COMPATIBILITY ASSISTANT is just one example of how we strive to make shopping with us as easy and convenient as possible. We know that choosing the right smartphone is an important decision, and we're here to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Summary

In summary, band 20 is not important in China because other LTE bands are preferred, which enable a higher data transfer rate. However, if you use a Chinese smartphone in Europe, you should pay close attention to whether you really need band 20 and whether it is supported by the smartphone. 

Especially people in rural areas might need band 20. Often, the better band 1, 3, 7 or 8 is used here, which is supported by almost all Chinese smartphones, but is not used everywhere. If you really need band 20 and do not have a 5G contract, you will have to think twice about whether the smartphone is worth the purchase.

If you order from TradingShenzhen.com, we will help you choose the right smartphone. Our compatibility wizard will show you the frequencies and support in your country. You should be able to easily choose the smartphone that is fully compatible. If you don't know yet which smartphone you would like to buy, please use our ASSISTENTEN at the top right. There, you can put together your desired smartphone via dropdown. And in the last instance, we are also happy to help you via the support form and answer your questions.

New Smartphones with Band 20

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IMPORTANT! The satellite phone function is only possible with China Mobile SIM

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