How to Compare Connectivity Options when Buying a Smartphone

Compare connectivity options when buying a smartphone

When you’re buying a shiny new phone, you probably look at the price, connection speed, features, battery power, and camera quality. However, different smartphones and networks also offer a range of mobile connectivity options, including GSM, LTE, and GPRS among others. It’s helpful to take a closer look at the pros and cons of each of these forms of technology.

GPRS

One of the most basic forms of technology is GPRS, which is slow in comparison to competing technologies like LTE or GSM. However, if you don’t need a lightning-fast connection you may want to browse the internet using this connection, because it will make your battery last longer. For those with low to moderate data needs, it can be an adequate solution.

GSM

Perhaps the most prominent technology, the Global system for mobile communications or GSM is used extensively throughout Europe and has expanded throughout many other parts of the world as well. Over 2 billion consumers use GSM for standard mobile access, often combining it with GPRS technology for mobile internet access.

3G

If you spend a lot of time accessing the internet and also wish to make video calls, you’ll want to be part of at least a 3G network. However, the downside is that there are some areas where 3G coverage might be limited, which can quickly drain battery life. Yet this is increasingly rare as 3G becomes more of a mobile standard.

HSPA+

HSPA is turning out to be one of the top mobile broadband technologies, now supporting over 1.5 billion subscribers. Over half of these are supported by WCDMA with Nokia Networks, although other technology providers have also jumped in the game. The HSPA+ technology brings standard HSPA up to even faster speeds, allowing carriers to move increasingly close to 4G speeds of 100 Mbit/s download. Most devices that work with LTE technology can also use HSPA.

LTE

Long Term Evolution is known for its high speeds and convenience, with high download speeds. However, although LTE is marketed as faster than HSPA+, it’s not always faster. This is why you’ll want to compare your options carefully to look at the real numbers used. Connecting to an LTE signal may also drain your device’s battery more quickly than some other options. A final factor to consider is that LTE frequency bands can vary from one region to the next, so your device may not work in all of them.

EDGE

Exchanged Data rates for GSM Evolution or EDGE is a newer system based on the standard GPRS technology. However, it can run at a higher speed which makes it ideal for receiving large attachments or viewing online videos.

The Bottom Line

The best connection technology will depend on what’s available in your region, what your budget looks like, and what your typical usage is like. If you travel a lot, you might prefer a GSM connected phone, for example, which is useful in more regions. Some phones also offer compatibility with more than one technology, so be sure to compare all your choices before making a decision.