The next generation of mobile technology is here. On the 30th of October, mobile network Everything Everywhere officially launched 4G, the UK’s first super-fast mobile data provider. 4G provides customers with the quickest downloads yet, promising to be up to five times faster than its predecessor. Sounds impressive, but there are a few catches.
4G Mobile Network Comes With a Catch
The first and most obvious is that you’ll need a 4G enabled device, of which there are currently only a few available. The iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 and HTC One XL are among the limited number of mobile phones that are 4G-ready, but more are expected once the new service is rolled out. Which brings us to another catch: 4G is initially only being launched in ten cities across the UK, meaning availability of the service to users elsewhere in the country will be extremely limited, or completely unusable.
Then, there’s the price. While all 4G phone plans on EE come with unlimited calls and texts, the data allowance will cost customers an extra £5 a month for the same amount they receive on 3G. Prices start at £36, which gets you a paltry 500MB, and you can expect to fork out a hefty £56 per month for the top-end data allowance of 8GB. If you think £36 a month isn’t bad, consider the fact that you’ll be using far more data than you would on 3G purely because everything will load much faster. EE dispute this, claiming that 4G simply means less waiting around, and not necessarily using more data, but they would say that. In the extra time you’ve got after loading a page quickly with 4G, you’re not likely to just put your phone down. You’ll probably keep browsing the internet, eating up more data in a short space of time. Put simply, if you’re downloading everything much faster, you’ll end up using it more, and all at an extra cost. Go over your data allowance and you’ll get bite-sized amounts like 50MB for £3 or 500MB for £6 – both of which, when using much faster data speeds, won’t get you very much at all.
The cost is clearly a big issue, but does that put die-hard technology fans off? Apparently, yes. A recent poll carried out by Thinkbroadband found that 71% of 3G customers would not upgrade to 4G based on the price. The typical 3G customer uses between 1-1.5GB of data a month: Switch over to 4G and they’ll easily hit 3GB, and that extra data means extra cost. Using 4G, 500MB could easily vanish in as little as 3 minutes – that’s £36 for three minutes of data.
Despite the advances in speed, battery technology on 4G smartphones is poor. Because 4G coverage isn’t available throughout the country yet, the battery life is very quickly drained by the phone constantly trying to find a signal to work with. While this issue should eventually be resolved as the 4G network gradually spreads, battery life will not necessarily be improved as a result. As the demand for more features and faster technology with smartphones grows, developers are improving processing speeds and software while increasing battery capacity by just 1% a year.
4G Mobile Network - Fantastic For Film Fanatics
It’s not all bad, though. 4G from EE offers customers a Film Store service, enabling users to stream films direct to their mobiles for as little as £0.79 per film. As a gift to its subscribers (some might call it bribery), EE allows one film per week to be downloaded for free with no additional charge until February 2013. With over 700 titles available, customers have 30 days to start watching their chosen film with a pause-and-play feature allowing 48 hours to finish watching once started.
If you rely on your smartphone for internet access and streaming movies, 4G might be beneficial to you. The basic 500MB will allow you to do only the basics, such as checking emails and visiting a few simple websites, while the larger data allowance, and the bigger price, enables much more. Although 4G will make your smartphone experience much faster, it will also end up costing you more.