(Pocket-lint) - The term 4G has been kicking around for a few years now so chances are you've probably heard it mentioned at some point or another.
Whether you know what it means or why you should care is a different matter and that's where we come in; this feature is here to help. We have explained what it is and why you need it so read on if you need a little 4G education.
What is 4G?
Simply put, 4G is the shortened name for the fourth generation of the wireless data transmission networks set-up by the mobile phone industry in order to offer more bandwidth and greater speeds for everyday mobile device operations, such as messaging, video calling and mobile TV.
You might have been using 3G phones for a while and used the internet over the air, but 4G is basically more speedy and stable. Like your home broadband in comparison to your previous dial-up modem service.
It follows on from 2G and 3G and it enables just about every one of the clever things your latest fancy smartphone is capable of. Everything from surfing the web and video streaming on the go, to downloading a movie or retrieving app updates are significantly faster when using a 4G network than they were before.
What are the speeds?
To put that into perspective EE offers 4G speeds of up to 24-30mbps, which is likely to give you around 6-15mbps in peak times in London, but this is still faster than most rural fixed broadband connections which offer between 2-8mbps. In some cities such as Birmingham, EE claims its 4G will offer peaks as high as 60mbps so when 3G comes in around 1.5mbps, you can see the difference you'll notice, even at the slowest speeds.
And with 4G Plus being rolled out by EE, which is capable of speeds of up 150mps, realistically hitting 90mbps at times, that's on a par or better than most broadband lines. You can check your coverage here.
Why do you need 4G?
So why do you need it? Well, there are several advantages of having 4G over 3G. You might think a web page opens quickly enough on your 3G connection so why bother? But 4G falls into the category of not knowing how much you want it until you have to do without it.
You'll get better quality video calling on a 4G connection. Ever tried to Skype your family across the other side of the pond and been greeted with a pixelated mess? Or maybe you told a joke and they didn't laugh until a couple of seconds later, or just not at all? With a 4G connection speed, you'll get lovely clear images of your loved ones, as well as less delay (providing you tell decent jokes).
For those that love a podcast, 4G will help you download them in seconds and you'll also be able to update apps quickly using your mobile data, rather than having to wait until you get home for a strong, sturdy Wi-Fi connection.
It's worth making sure you have a decent data limit on your mobile phone price plan so you don't go over your allowance but the 4G packages available now are much more giving than they were to begin with.
Everybody loves surfing
Surfing the web is at least four times faster than on a 3G connection so whether you need Google search for cheating on the pub quiz, or you need to pay a bill that you forgot to do before leaving the house, 4G will have your back. Great for impulse buying online before you have a chance to change your mind or for apps like Shazam where you are waiting for a speedy answer.
Your apps will be more efficient, whether that's Facebook, Twitter, Netflix or YouTube. A 4G connection will give you quicker status updates, picture uploading and page loading. A quicker connection is also good for other apps such as maps, where you need to find out where you are and where you're going quickly.
And of course, video downloading and media streaming apps work more efficiently on 4G connections. For those that love to catch up on the latest episode of Eastenders or House of Cards on the way to work, 4G will be a dream come true. Videos are not only be faster to download than on a 3G connection, but streaming those episodes should be flawless as long as your connection doesn't drop.
All-in-all, 4G will benefit anyone who uses their phone for anything more than phone calls, texts and taking pictures. Everything will be faster and you'll get an even better experience than you did on 3G.