4G: Is it Worth the Cost of Buying a New Phone?New broadband technology has blessed us with ever-increasing blazing speeds for obtaining data. Many of us are just glad that our smartphones are finally catching up — but are they worth the added expense? Many of us have found that the 3G experience has proven satisfactory, but now we wonder if 4G is just hype or really worth the extra cost. If you wish to be blinded with statistics and convoluted logic, I suggest you stop reading now and go elsewhere. My goal with this article is to share with you my personal experience in comparing 3G technology to the newer 4G technology. This is personal opinion.

Being up on the latest and greatest 4G is a modern status symbol in its own right. It is hyped as the much improved, faster-is-better, and all-around must have technology.

For the most part, 4G fulfills this hype and should be an improvement over 3G, but as always there are pluses and minuses to any technology. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Your battery drains faster on 4G than on 3G.
  • 4G improves your streaming speed and the quality of your video.
  • 4G is not available everywhere, but then neither is 3G.
  • When tethering, you will notice faster load times on your laptop or other device.
  • Browsing is faster on 4G than it is on 3G.

Some of the other unknowns about 4G performance include:

  • Speeds are going to vary from carrier to carrier.
  • Speeds will also vary from city to city.
  • Obstructions such as buildings or other structures can affect the performance of 4G.
  • Your upload speeds may also improve on a 4G connection.

Note: Many of these same factors hamper 3G speeds, as well.

Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself before going to 4G to determine if the cost warrants the performance gain:

  • What do I do that warrants a faster speed than 3G?
  • Do I download videos or upload PowerPoint presentations for work?
  • Are music or videos my life, making it necessary for me to have the fastest download time possible in order to survive?
  • Do I need to visit a lot of websites that feature a lot of video or audio content?
  • Do I need to be available for video conferencing in regards to my business, or do I need to be first to access information in order to survive the competition?
  • Am I fortunate enough to have a bank account that is so plush that cost isn’t a concern?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then yes, 4G is for you. Again, as long as you are in an area that supports 4G, you may wish to upgrade. Another option is to buy a 4G device, such as the new Apple iPad, and wait for 4G to arrive in your area. Does this sound farfetched and a poor scheme to follow? Not necessarily. I waited for nearly two years while living in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada before DSL finally arrived. However, having spent my due diligence and expending a lot of patience, DSL did finally arrive. Now when I look back at the DSL speeds that I was so anxious to get, I can’t believe how turtle-like they seem in comparison to today’s available technology.

To authenticate my right to comment, let me share that my personal experience with these technologies include using 3G on the Sprint network and 4G on T-Mobile (my current carrier). Between these two technologies and networks, I discovered one simple fact. When tethering to 4G on T-Mobile using either my laptop computer with Windows 7, my Android smartphone, my Apple iPad, or my Amazon Kindle Fire, I find that 4G rocks. In fact, what surprised me was just how fast 4G speed is compared to any of the cable companies with Wi-Fi connections that I have used in the past. It is amazing to me that I see no difference, when surfing the Internet, between using Wi-Fi or 4G. This is particularly amazing since my cable company claims I have a blazing 10 Mbps speed, which for the most part is true.

To further test my connections, I performed a very unscientific experiment and tested both by cable connection and 4G connection on my brand new laptop computer running Windows 7 with my Chrome browser. I used speedtest.net, on the same server; within two minutes of each other, the results were:

  • Cable — Down was 10.66 Mbps and up was 1.00 Mbps.
  • 4G — Down was 7.58 Mbps and up was 1.55 Mbps.So what does this prove? Absolutely nothing. The proof in the pudding is how my browser responds when surfing the Internet. I see no difference whether I’m using cable versus Wi-Fi or tethering to my phone using 4G. I have even connected by Blu-ray player to Netflix to stream movies. It worked without a problem.If I wasn’t limited to 5 GB for 4G speeds, this could be a real option to dump cable. But that is not possible for now and I will continue to use both 4G and cable.What has your experience been with 4G? Share your experience with us.

    Comments welcome.

    CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by Hector Milla.