When asked to write an article on a topic of my choosing related to the Android OS, I went about searching for ideas and soon realized there was really only one question I needed to answer: when I get my next phone, do I want 3G or 4G?? My answer up to this point has always been a confused look and an embarrassed “I don’t know.” However, with a little bit of research I now know two important things:
- 1. What the salesperson is referring to when he or she talks about 3G versus 4G —and—
- 2. Which one I want and need.
Don’t worry, it isn’t nearly as complicated as it may sound. So here we go!
What Does 3G Mean?
In both 3G and 4G systems, the “G” stands for generation. Thus, 3G means the phone is third generation technology. Prior to this generation, cellular phones had limited internet capabilities. Generally speaking, 1G and 2G phones were simply…phones. When 3G was introduced, it brought “mobile broadband” with it–meaning users had faster access to the internet and the burgeoning world of “apps”.
What Does 4G Mean?
Since we now know that “G” stands for generation, we can figure out that 4G means fourth generation technology. Now, here’s where it gets interesting: as a general rule, new technology is introduced as an improvement over previous versions. However, this is not necessarily true when it comes to 4G service. If you don’t know the ins and outs of what qualifies as 4G, then you’ll just be wasting your money.
Choosing Between 3G vs 4G
There is only one rule regarding what qualifies as 4G rather than 3G: 4G must offer internet speed that is faster than 3G—but only on the same carrier. That means if you have a 3G phone with one carrier and switch to a 4G phone on a different carrier, the 4G phone may or may not be faster than the 3G you replaced.
Other things to consider:
- Not every carrier offers 4G coverage…even if they sell 4G phones. If your carrier doesn’t offer 4G coverage and you use a 4G phone, chances are that your cell phone will drain its battery searching for a nonexistent signal.
- If you’re transferring large amounts of data, 4G is good. But it’s also incredibly easy to use up lots of data on your service plan. So plan accordingly.
Essentially, the decision to choose one generation over the other comes down to which carrier you use, whether the service is available through that carrier, and how much data you really need to transfer. If 4G is available to you and your data usage is low then 4G might be a good option. But for those of us who don’t have access to 4G service, use a lot of data each month, or simply don’t use data at all, 3G is more than enough.
This is a guest post from Paula Morical. Paula is an avid online content writer and runs a Military Spouses blog at Military Wives Central.
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