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The Moto Z successor may have been used to demo Sprint's Gigabit Class LTE speeds

Sprint said it demoed its new Gigabit Class LTE network with an upcoming flagship phone from Motorola, which may be the successor to the Moto Z.

Published onMarch 9, 2017

Sprint is preparing for a new generation of phones that will be able to, in theory, handle cellular wireless download speeds up to 1Gbps. Today, the carrier announced that it had demoed its Gigabit Class LTE network with an upcoming “flagship” smartphone made by Motorola, and it sounds like that phone could be the successor to the current Moto Z.

Sprint said it has now deployed the Gigabit Class LTE network in New Orleans. It uses three-channel carrier aggregation, 60 MHz of Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum, 4X4 MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and 256-QAM higher order modulation to achieve its theoretical top download speeds. The demo was handled by the unnamed Motorola flagship phone, which Sprint’s press release said will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, combined with the chip company’s Snapdragon X16 LTE modem.

The unnamed Motorola flagship phone will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor

The current Moto Z and the Moto Z Force both use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, which at the time of their release was the highest end smartphone chip available. It stands to reason that a successor to the Moto Z would likely have the faster Snapdragon 835 chip inside. However, as we have reported before, the first smartphones that are rumored to include the chip will likely be the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+.

Sprint actually showed off the new Motorola device to a handful of select analysts a few days ago. Even though the phone was in a case and taped over, it’s still a real product, as you can see in the tweet attached below:

Here’s the mystery Motorola phone coming later this year with four antennas. In a case and taped over.
— Diana Goovaerts (@DiaMariesbeat) March 9, 2017

This isn’t the first time we’re seeing the handset, either. At Motorola’s MWC keynote, where it unveiled the Moto G5 and G5 Plus, the company pulled up an image of an upcoming Gamepad Moto Mod, which was powered by an unreleased Motorola phone. It might be a tad difficult to see, the phone features a redesigned fingerprint sensor and a slightly different front panel. It’s not a Moto G5, either; none of the phones in Motorola’s G lineup are compatible with Moto Mods.

Okay, now back to Sprint’s news. Sprint said the launch of the Gigabit Class LTE service in New Orleans will be followed by expanding that wireless technology to “high-traffic locations” in the US. The specific markets, and the timetable for the network expansion, has not yet been revealed by Sprint. The carrier did say these kinds of network improvements are preparing for the official launch of 5G cellular network technology. It added that it is also planning to add support for Massive MIMO, which it said could offer download speeds between 3-6bps for devices that use the carrier’s 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Of course, if you own a smartphone and are a Sprint customer, you likely won’t be able to take advantage of these higher speeds with the Gigabit Class LTE network until you upgrade your device with the appropriate hardware. Having said that, it appears that the carrier is trying its best to bridge the gap between LTE and 5G networks with some solid speed improvements in between.

Will download speeds be a bigger factor in your decision to purchase your next smartphone? Let us know in the comments!

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