The Difference Between 2G 3G 4G and LTE Speeds Explained
How do I check if my phone is 3G?
Paths can differ slightly depending on your Android version and phone manufacturer, but you can usually enable Airplane mode by going to Settings > Wireless & networks > Airplane mode. Turn it on for at least a couple of seconds, then disable it. In a lot of cases, your LTE connection issues will be gone.
The 3G network was the first technology with sufficient speed to provide a decent user experience on a smartphone. There were some smartphones that used the older 2G EDGE technology, but the data speeds were slow and the user spent a lot of time waiting for data to load.
Each of the major cellular providers have 3G networks that provide coverage across most of the country. There are two competing 3G technologies currently being used: Global System for Mobiles (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). AT&T and T-Mobile use the GSM technology while Verizon and Sprint use the CDMA technology. Since the technologies are not compatible with each other, this is the reason you can’t use a Verizon phone on an AT&T network (or vice versa).
4G and LTE
The 4G technology is the successor to the 3G technology. Cellular providers are still building out their 4G networks. Theoretically, 4G is much faster than 3G. But before we start comparing 4G speed to 3G speed, it is important to understand there are different versions of 4G.
When talking about 4G, things can get a little confusing. Basically, there is 4G and 4G LTE. Many people consider LTE to be true 4G technology. Generally, if a cellular provider describes a 4G network without mentioning LTE, they are probably talking about a High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) network. The HSPA network is a faster version of the 3G GSM network. While not as fast as an LTE network, it is still faster than a 3G network. Since LTE is still relatively new, the cellular providers haven’t fully built out their LTE networks yet. Be careful when looking at the network coverage maps on the providers’ websites. Some companies claim to have broad nationwide 4G coverage. They may really be talking about HSPA coverage and not LTE coverage.
In theory, LTE can be up to ten times faster than 3G. In practice, the actual network speed will vary based on network load and signal strength. Even if LTE does not meet its theoretical speed, it is still much faster than 3G. Activities that require large amounts of data, such as streaming movies, work very well on an LTE network. If you plan to perform a lot of data-hungry activities or simply want the best performance when surfing the Internet, you should really plan on buying a smartphone that supports LTE.