The 3 network is about to bring fast 4G coverage to my area.
Other networks already provide it, but at ridiculous prices and with some quite restrictive download limits. However 3 is offering 4G (that’s 4G LTE to our colonial cousins) at their current 3G prices with sensible or even unlimited data usage.
Currently I have some very nice smartphones but none are 4G capable, so it’s time to be looking around for something to fill that gap. I’m not in a great rush as my current contract is not due for renewal for many months yet, but it’s still good to keep an eye on things. For routine e-mail and that sort of thing standard 2G speeds are quite sufficient for me. Doing internet related stuff on my phones I’ve found 3G / HSDPA speeds sufficient, however the way the system has been implemented the networks seem to have very rarely achieved their advertised speeds. This does become a bit of a pain when using my phones for laptop tethering type activities. So a move across to 4G would make my phone usage experience somewhat nicer. Likewise if I only got say one third of the 4G speeds possible then my laptop experience would be vastly improved. Taking this one stage further, if a 4G connection at my home location proved to be fast and reliable then I could well be tempted to drop my current physical phone line and associated broadband connection and go totally 4G mobile-connected.
This would not be the first time I would have done this sort of thing. A few years back I got rid of my land line and lived off a (T-Mobile) 3G tethered connection. It worked ‘all right’ (it did give occasional connection problems, but I could work with them) until after a couple of year I discovered and seriously started to use YouTube. That really bumped up my networking demands and resulted in a move back to a fixed landline / broadband set-up.
So what about a new 4G enabled phone? My first modern smartphone was an iPhone 3GS. A great device however as time went by I started getting more and more fed up and annoyed with Apple’s attitude to its customers; one of ‘you, the customer, may think you know what you want but we know better’ and giving you (forcing on you) what THEY have decided that YOU want. So when it came time for a phone upgrade I shifted across to Android, Google, and their ‘Don’t Be Evil’ informal motto. The trouble is that Google over the last few years has become as bad, if not worse than Apple in their desire to control their users so I really would like to avoid Google. So unless some company (Nokia, Amazon?) produce a really nice forked Android device (and so free of the Google services) I’m looking to either a 4G Windows or 4G BlackBerry device (or just accept Apple may be evil, but is now less evil than Google, and go iPhone).
Both BlackBerry and Windows phones would cover my principle needs – e-mail, web, maps / GPS and tethering. BlackBerry may be on a massive downer but their Z10 phone, at a current discounted prices of well under £200, is an amazing bargain. As well running the rather limited selection of BB apps the latest software update lets it run a vast number of Android apps too, and what’s more the BB system gives you far greater control over those app’s permissions compared to a standard Android phone. Also the BB 10 internet browser has a reputation for being the fastest phone browser around. Thinking Windows, the Nokia Lumia 625 can compete with the Z10 on price and has the advantage of the backing of Microsoft with their operating system and app store that’s being rapidly developed, but this app store is still very limited in scope. The Z10 is generally better specified than the 625, but one thing that really does let the Nokia down is its poor resolution screen. So if I was going to do this right now, I’d probably go Z10.
Something to remember is that this is not going to totally replace my current phone, so I still have access to all the Google based services via that, but this will provide an alternative phone (on a PAYG SIM) that will give me 4G services.