If you’ve been keeping tabs on the worldwide smartphone market, you’ll have probably noticed a pretty glaring omission last year – why wasn’t the discerning UK phone buyer offered a super-fast 4G connection when many other countries were loving life with fibre-optic speeds on the go?
Thankfully that began to change in September 2012, with EE deploying the fast network throughout the UK – and it was also the first to offer the Samsung GALAXY Note II LTE too, giving this impressive phone another string to an already packed bow.
1. OK – but what actually is 4G?
4G (also known as Long Term Evolution or LTE) is the next generation of mobile connectivity that can bring theoretical speeds of up to 100Mbps on your GALAXY Note II LTE.
While in truth you’ll never get that speed on the go (elements like other users and distance from the mobile mast have a huge impact on bitrate) you’ll find you’re still regularly rocking speeds of around 20Mbps on a mobile phone (and that will get faster in the coming months), which is still hugely impressive.
2. How does 4G work?
There are actually three different ‘forms’ of 4G on offer, all at different frequencies. 800MHz will allow fewer connections, but has a much greater range, so rural areas can buy a Note II LTE safe in the knowledge they’ll be getting the full power of the handset even away from the cities.
1800MHz is the frequency currently used by EE to deploy its super-fast network, and can be used both in cities and further afield, plus also allows access to things like HD voice for ultra-crisp calling.
And finally 2.6GHz will be used mostly in built-up areas; unlike 800MHz it’s got a shorter range but a much greater capacity, meaning far more users can get super speed from the same mast.
And the good news? The Samsung GALAXY Note II LTE supports all these bands, so you won’t need to worry about checking compatibility before you buy, making it a much simpler choice in your local phone emporium!
3. How much better is 4G than 3G?
4G is both a small step and a huge evolution from the 3G speeds you’ll be used to. 4G is designed for data, and is a ‘flatter’ signal – simply put, this means it’s more efficient to get info into your GALAXY Note II, which saves on battery life and consumes less data to perform the same functions.
3G isn't too far behind though - if you can't get a full 4G signal, DC-HSDPA is the latest technology to come from the engineering bods at the networks and while it is technically 3G in form and range, it can't reach the lofty speeds of 4G.
So that’s nice if you suddenly wander into a 4G dead zone, right?
4. Good for gamers
There are loads of uses for 4G – it’s not about doing the same things you’ve done in the past but faster (although you can do that just fine).
The short connection time between your phone and the mobile mast means you’ve now got access to a whole range of activities, like playing multiplayer games on the go – and combined with the mighty GPU at the heart of the Samsung GALAXY Note II, you’ve got a real gaming machine that you don’t have to keep tethered to the home.
So you can all too easily find yourself in a multiplayer frag-fest with titles like Modern Combat 3 or racing to the line with Asphalt 7… all on the bus to work.
5. Movie marathons from the park
One of the biggest changes to the way people use their phone when imbuing it with 4G is video – studies show that the likes of YouTube shoot to the top of the most-visited sites when users get access to 4G.
But it’s about so much more than that, and the likes of EE offer you free films to download each week – and despite being in HD, you can suck them down in no time at all to your phone, or start streaming instantly.
Tie-ins with home broadband also mean you can begin watching a title at home on the TV or PC, and continue where you left off with your phone when you leave the house.
And with the large and expansive screen offered on the Samsung GALAXY Note II, there’s no reason not to enjoy the best the movie world has to offer down the pub, in the countryside or as a passenger on a long car journey; plus it’s an even more impressive experience thanks to the HD Super AMOLED screen too.
6. Is 4G expensive?
The notion of 4G in the UK is that’s it’s an expensive option to have – certainly early tariffs haven’t offered a huge amount of data for a higher cost per month to get access to the super speeds on the go.
However, the likes of Three have pledged to not increase costs when it deploys 4G later in the year, claiming that no matter if you use its ‘Ultrafast’ DC-HSPA connection or 4G, you shouldn’t pay more for the privilege.
O2 and Vodafone are yet to announce their 4G pricing, but it’s expected to be largely between Three and EE – the latter bolsters its attractiveness to consumers by offered free cinema tickets and movie downloads, which may be the route others take.
7. How can I get 4G?
Currently, there’s only EE offering 4G in the UK, but that’s going to change in the next few months, as summer 2013 will be the time when all networks start offering 4G speeds too.
Three has confirmed it will be bringing 4G by September, and thanks to not raising prices, is offering phones like the Samsung GALAXY Note II LTE now so users can upgrade to the great handsets and feel content in the knowledge 4G will land straight on their phones later in the year.
Vodafone is doing the same thing with the GALAXY Note II LTE, so you can buy this top-end handset now and upgrade your price plan to incorporate 4G speeds on the big red network later in the year.
8. How much faster are phones going to get?
Well, there’s no doubt that 4G is going to just get faster and faster as the technology is developed. Compare 3G speeds to when it first deployed at the start of the millennium (up to 2Mbps) to now (up to 40Mbps) and you can see there’s a long way to go when it comes to streaming speeds on the move.
5G is a long way off, but in 2020 you could be getting even cheaper (or free) data thanks to low deployment costs for the networks, really low battery drain or simply the ability to connect loads of users together at once from one single station with gigabit connection speeds.
But 4G is new enough to get excited about – so if you want a great gaming experience on the go, want to watch movies where you want them or simply browse the internet without speed limitations, the Samsung GALAXY Note II LTE allows you to do all that and more.