What’s the difference between… 3G and 4G?
QI recently upgraded to an iphone 7. This is the first phone I’ve had that has 4G. It doesn’t always pick up a 4G signal, so quite often the display says ‘3G’. However, when it does this I can’t say I notice that the phone or the internet is any slower. So, what’s the difference between 4G and 3G? I thought 4G was loads faster than 3G, which is partly why I upgraded my phone and paid for a 4G contract. Have I been duped? Karen Worthing
AWhether you were duped depends on what you were told about 4G, but let’s take a few steps back.
The ‘G’ in both 4G and 3G stands for ‘generation’, which describes the evolution of mobile technology. It might be hard to remember now but the first mobile phones were analogue, not digital, and carried only speech — just like traditional landline phones.
Then, in the early 1990s, along came second-generation (2G) mobile networks. These were digital systems that introduced basic data services, like text messaging. It wasn’t impossible to browse the web on 2G networks but with a maximum speed of just 50Kbps — no faster than an old dial-up modem — the experience was atrocious. Later improvements saw 2G’s top speed increase to around 1Mbps, but 3G was just around the corner. By the early 2000s, 3G services began appearing, with the technology promising speeds of at least 2M 2Mbps. However, depending on the network and location, the real-wworld speeds can actually be muchch hhigher. 4G is merely the latest evolution of mobile technology, with possible speeds of 100Mbps. Whether or not you receive faster speeds when on 4G, or actually notice the difference when you do, depends very much on what you do online. The reality for many people is that they probably won’t. For email, surfing the web and even streaming music and video, a good 3G signal will feel every bit as nippy as a 4G one.
4G is the fourth generation of mobile technology and is much faster than 3G