Google next to implement dual-band Galileo or GPS

I don’t usually write about smartphones but this news is peripherally relevant to GPS sports watches as it heralds yet more companies taking dual-band GNSS accuracy more seriously. These initiatives MIGHT herald copycat technical imprvements in the sports watch realm. Well…that is…someone might finally soon START doing it! ie Garmin

Here are the specs for the new Google Pixel 4 phone, you can see in the image below that I’ve lifted from the spec sheet that GPS/GLONASS and Galileo are all supported. There’s nothing new there, as you know.

But look more closely at the footnotes and clearly, dual-band support is coming. No ifs, no buts…it’s coming.

In the terminology I use, it would be dual-frequency GNSS, where L1, L5, E1 and E5a represent the frequencies that GPS and Galileo utilise. ie this news does NOT mean that GPS and Galileo will be used together

 

Dual frequency (dual-band as Google call it) will mean that the Pixel 4 phone can reduce GNSS accuracy errors by using a bit of maths on either two lots of GPS signals or two lots of Galileo signals. With a second, correcting signal the receiver better calculates the extent of the error to the signal caused by the Galileo/GPS signal travelling through the atmosphere. Potentially, with a second, corrective signal bein used, accuracy down to +/- 1m or so can be delivered. This table might explain which frequencies come from which system/constellation

 

Galileo GLONASS – K GPS II GPS III
1.559–1.592 GHz (E1) 1.593–1.610 GHz (G1) 1.563–1.587 GHz (L1) 1575.42 MHz L1 (Civilian)
1.237–1.254 GHz (G2) 1.215–1.2396 GHz (L2) 1227.6 MHz L2C (Civilian)
1.189–1.214 GHz (G3)
1.164–1.215 GHz (E5a/b) 1.164–1.189 GHz (L5) 1176.45 MHz L5 (Civilian)
1.260–1.300 GHz (E6)

 

The Pixel 4 uses the Snapdragon 855 platform/processor and it is that which supports the dual frequencies, again here are the specs sheets for the 855. The Kirin 980 and Kirin 990 processors also support dual-frequency and indeed the following phones already use the same 855 processor as the Pixel so it’s not just Google that can enable dual-frequency.

  • Asus RoG Phone 2
  • Asus Zenfone 6Z
  • Blackshark 2 SKywalker
  • Galaxy Note 10
  • Garmin Fenix 7 (just kidding)
  • LG G8 ThinQ
  • LG V50 ThinQ
  • OnePlus 7
  • OnePlus 7 Pro
  • OPPO Reno
  • Samsung Galaxy S10
  • Sony Xperia 1
  • Xiaomi Mi 9
  • Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro
  • Xiaomi Mi MIX 3
  • Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro
  • ZTE Axon 10 Pro
  • ZTE Nubia Red Magic 3

 

What is GPS 3? GPS III vs GALILEO and GLONASS – which is best?

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9 thoughts on “Google next to implement dual-band Galileo or GPS

  1. Actually DF smartphones have been available for nearly a year now, the first one was the Xiaomi Mi8, there’s a tool to check for that (as well as do an accuracy test) here as well as some good discussions : https://medium.com/@sjbarbeau/dual-frequency-gnss-on-android-devices-152b8826e1c

    There is a bit/lot of confusion because chips report “theoretical” accuracy and that’s now under 1 meter with DF, however no one’s seen anything better than 3/5 meters I believe with actual testing. It’s not hard to see why, tiny GPS antennas, interference, etc…DF on smartphones is going to be mostly useful on smartphones to eliminate “bounced” signals in deep urban canyons.

  2. The major problem is the chipset implementation in sport watches as smartphones. Modern smartphones have 4000/4500 mAh batteries. Watches have 280/320 mAh bateries. The sony chipset have a consumption of 6mW. The dual-frequency Broadcom we don’t know the consumption, but should be more. Or a brand can develop a new chip with low consumption or can be hard to see soon this on a watch.

  3. FYI, the dual band gps chip (L2 and L5) by is only provided by Broadcom (accuracy can be up to +-30cm under QZSS coverage) and it is expensive, I am quite skeptical big brand like Suunto and Garmin will sacrifice the profit for dual band chip. Hear say Garmin did consider to use dual band chip but the power consumption become the main concern as more competitor is using Sony chip to improve battery life which most of consumer want. Therefore,Broadcom is then released a variant which is built for wearable but the acuracy is still unknown. But I think the cost for dual band is main concern and this is reason why it is not common (in smartphone and gps device) even though it have been around for long time. Ironically the firstbeat feature of Garmin is highly depend on gps based data, current single gps accuracy has fail to support the firstbeat as accuracy of +-10m is not enough to provide accarate real time pace data.

    • yes there are several technical hurdles to overcome.
      I think a reasonably large prize awaits the first company to invest to deliver this tech.
      so, yes more costs…but revenue will come too as a result.
      Garmin will probably do it first in the gps watch realm.

      • i will consider return to garmin if Garmin use it 1st,but still antenna area or design is still the important consideration

        • Webvan said: “But I think the cost for dual band is main concern and this is reason why it is not common (in smartphone and gps device)”.
          In my opinion, in two three years all phones will be dual frequency and all phones will begin to use it effectively. The cost of dual frequency chip will get lower and watch brands will begin to adopt dual frequency chip. But I disagree with TFK, I don’t think that Garmin will be first in the watch market. Probably Garmin will wait till some brands will begin to use it, and then will follow. Garmin has no commercial interest to be ahead of time.

        • Fwiw, Garmin was pretty clear cost wasn’t really the decider/issue here (and said exactly as such when I asked if cost was the issue). It was almost exclusively battery life tradeoffs, and the more simplistic fact that at the time no major headliner phones had done it (read: neither Samsung or Apple).

          I have zero doubts Garmin will be the first mainstream wearable to do it, but I don’t think we’ll see that happen until we start seeing the benefits more clearly displayed on phones.

          • It will be interesting to follow if there are real benefits in phone. The beginning of dual frequency in phone was not so much exiting, a lot of devices had dual frequency chip but the firmware didn’t enable it, and when it was enabled the advantage was not so clear. But it’s a quite a lot of time that I don’t read any comments of owners of dual-frequency phones, so I don’t know if now things are better. It would be worth to begin to check again how dual frequencies phones are performing now with dual-frequency reception, in order to have an idea of the potential of dual-frequency gps for watches.

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