What is 4G and should you make the switch to a 4G contract?

What is 4G?

With all the talk focusing on 3G contracts and 4G capabilities, it can get confusing about what all of this actually means, and how it translates into your mobile phone.

Here I try to explain what exactly 4G is, how it affects the service which you receive, and how the 4G technology compares with that of its predecessor. Ultimately it seems clear that while 4G may be the future service for mobile phones, 3G hasn’t quite lost its fight yet.   


What is 4G?

4G is essentially the fourth generation in mobile phone standards, and is the most recent generation to date. It succeeds 3G, probably the most popular mobile phone generation that exists in most smartphones.

The 4G standard will provide users with the most up-to-date and fastest mobile internet service, allowing people to watch HD TV, conduct video conferences and watch 3D programs on their mobile phone.   

What is EE?

EE, or Everything Everywhere, is the company that owns both Orange and T Mobile. In the third quarter of 2012, EE were permitted to introduce 4G mobile phone services across some cities in the UK, such as London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow, amongst others.  EE also has plans to extend the availability of the 4G service to more cities across the UK, including Newcastle, Southampton, Nottingham and Hull.


The Future for 4G?

As EE intends, by 2014, to make 4G available to 98 per cent of the UK population, it would seem that the future for mobile phone standards will be in fourth generation services. But what exactly are the differences between 4G and its predecessor, 3G? And how much money will the transition add to your monthly contract?


The differences between 3G and 4G

4G technology generally guarantees a faster internet service, so if, like me, you regularly surf the internet, 4G may be for you. The new service is good news for people who do business on their mobile phones, as the 4G technology is capable of installing large amounts of data at a faster rate, compared with a 3G service.

As mentioned above, with the 4G technology only having been released in recent months, one can imagine that its service can only get better. Therefore, if you are looking to purchase a mobile phone that will see you well into the future, it may be wise to consider buying 4G to ensure that you receive the most up-to-date mobile phone standard. 

That said, it doesn’t mean that we have given up all hope on the 3G technology. Ultimately, if you live in an area where 4G is currently unavailable, then it simply makes sense to buy 3G. You might be trying to future-proof your phone by switching to 4G, but assuming that EE’s plans to extend the availability of their services cannot always be relied upon.

In fact, if your area does not have 4G service, or if the signal strength where you are is weak, your mobile phone is likely to waste battery by constantly searching for reception. Moreover, it has also been suggested that the battery life of 4G operated mobiles is shorter than that of 3G-run devices. Therefore, if you would rather have a phone that has sufficient battery power to run, compared with a super-fast internet connection, 3G may be the contract choice for you.

The cost between buying a 3G contract and a 4G contract could also sway you into buying one way or another. For example, the Nokia Lumia 820 with 3G technology can be found from £33 per month whereas the same handset, with the exact same contract packages, can be found from £41 per month. The same goes for the Samsung Galaxy S3 which contract tariffs differ from £30 per month with a 3G service, to £41 per month for 4G.

Therefore, there does not seem to be a definitive answer to whether you should make the switch to a 4G contract. It ultimately depends on where in the UK you live, how much you want to spend on a new contract, and what features you value most in your mobile phone. 

Written by Charlotte Kertrestel

Find your perfect deal