The Changing Face of Mobile Broadband
Mobile phone technology changes fast, which can make keeping up with all the latest trends difficult. Most people only shop for a new mobile once every two years, and that means that phones change a lot between shopping trips. One of the biggest revolutions in mobile tech that we've seen recently is the advent of 4g, and if you're looking at buying a new phone right now, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. Today we're giving you a quick guide to 4g, what it is, and what the benefits and disadvantages are to using it. So, before you commit to buying that new 4g capable mobile, you might want to read on to find out what you're getting into.
All About 4G
Basically, 4g is just another way to connect to mobile internet. Traditionally, smart phones use 3g networks to connect to the internet, and 4g is just the next generation of connectivity. All new high end phones are 4g capable, and more and more mid-range phones are getting 4g as well. If a phone model has the suffix LTE after the name, that indicates that it's 4g capable.
The Plus Points
There is one huge benefit to 4g phones and that's speed. 4G internet speeds are a lot faster than 3g speeds, in fact, they're around ten times faster than traditional mobile internet connections. This means that you get some obvious advantages, your web pages will load more quickly, your downloads will complete faster, your map app will update faster and therefore give you a more accurate indication of where exactly you are. But there are other benefits too. 4G speeds are quickly approaching the speeds of home broadband connections, and in some cases are even faster. This means that you can use 4g phones to do many of the tasks that you do on your home computer. You can now stream TV programmes and films on your phone without buffering or lagging, for example. You can also use your phone for playing high end online games. Faster internet speeds are very desirable, and many people are eager to take advantage of this new technology.
The Negative Points
But as desirable as fast 4g speeds may be, 4g capable phones aren't without their disadvantages. Firstly there's the consideration of cost. A 4g phone is going to be more expensive, particularly since 4g is mostly seen in top end models that can retail for over five hundred pounds. But there's also the cost of a data plan. In order to use your phone's 4g capabilities you will need a specific 4g data plan, since without this your phone will automatically connect to a 3g network by default. These plans are pricey, around two to three times more expensive than regular data plans. Then there's the question of availability. Not all operators have 4g data plans, and those that do don't yet have coverage for the whole of the UK. It's possible that you couldn't connect to a 4g network even if you wanted to, since many localities don't have access to 4g networks yet. And amongst those operators that do have available 4g networks, many of them aren't getting true 4g speeds yet because the infrastructure for their network isn't yet complete. Plus, there's a possible future consideration as well. Part of the reason that realistic 3g speeds are lower than the advertised speed that you see is that there is a lot of traffic on the network. Just like a road, the more cars there are, the slower speeds become. Most 3g users experience network slowing, particularly at peak times such as lunch time or after work, as too many users are trying to use the same network. Right now, 4g networks are pretty empty, meaning that the customers who currently have 4g data plans are getting good speeds. But it is possible that as the number of 4g customers increases, the average speed of 4g networks will slow down.
Should Buy a 4G Phone?
There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to whether or not you should invest in a 4g capable phone. The first is whether or not you're going to be able to use it right now. You'll need to check with your mobile operator to find out if they have a 4g data plan, and if so whether or not they get 4g coverage in your area. If you're in a position to change operators, then EE is currently getting the best 4g speeds in the country, and has pretty good coverage, so it might be worth taking a look at their mobile contracts. But if you can't get 4g service right now, does that mean that you shouldn't get a 4g capable phone? Not necessarily. Mobile operators are working fast to build and improve 4g infrastructure, meaning that more and more places are getting 4g coverage every day, and speeds are improving as well. Experts estimate that around eighty per cent of the UK should be able to access a 4g network within the next eighteen months or so. If you're the kind of person who doesn't buy a new mobile phone very often, and who is looking for a phone that's going to be a good investment and that will last you a good long time, then it might be worth getting that 4g connection so that you can use it later. At the rate that 4g networks are being built and improved, the chances are that you'll be able to use that 4g capability before you are ready to buy a new phone model. On the other hand, if you don't have access to a 4g network right now, and are planning to change your phone within the next year and a half to two years, then you can probably save yourself a little cash and go for the simple 3g model.