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What is 4G? Everything you need to know about LTE

It has been around for some time now, but 4G is still a phenomenon that few understand. LTE, or "long term evolution" to give it its full title, is not as prevalent as many would like. But as its coverage increases, and new devices hit the market which are capable of taking advantage of it, more people are taking an interest. For those who are still in the dark, here is our guide to 4G LTE.

androidpit 4g
What is 4G LTE? / © ANDROIDPIT

What is 4G?

Just like 3G before it, 4G is the carrier/network data plan that your smartphone uses in the absence of Wi-Fi to send and receive digital information. Traditionally, the data speeds carried by 3G (the mobile data transfer technology which has been being used for the past decade) are much slower than those offered by Wi-Fi, but 4G bridges that gap to some extent. 4G is roughly 5 times faster than 3G, though it can be much more, and can easily rival some home Wi-Fi speeds. However, this is restricted to areas which support a 4G enabled device.

What is LTE?

LTE is the fastest, most stable, version of 4G. As you might have guessed, 4G does come in other, less impressive variants (like WiMax and HSPA+), but thankfully LTE is becoming the most widespread service. 

How do I get 4G LTE?

First, you will need a 4G LTE enabled handset. If researching a new handsets, look at the "connectivity" section to see if "LTE" is listed in there. You can also see it in your Mobile Network Settings menu on compatible devices (usually it will be under your preferred network).

Next, you will need to be in an area which has 4G LTE coverage. The number of regions where this is supported is growing all the time, and it's most commonly available in bigger cities, but this is dependent on your carrier. If you’re in a suitable area, your smartphone should automatically connect to an LTE network, provided you have it selected as your preferred network mode in your settings.

androidpit 4g lte network settings
Go into your Wireless and Network settings to set your device to prioritize an LTE connection. / © ANDROIDPIT

How much does 4G LTE cost?

This will depend on your carrier and your device, but usually you don't pay a premium for the use of LTE, you just pay for a larger monthly data capacity. The caveat here is that because LTE is faster than 3G, the amount of data consumed when using it is invariably more.

What is the future of 4G LTE?

By 2017 it looks like most areas in the US and UK are going to have 4G support, but don't hold your breath for 5G anytime soon: some experts say it won't be here until 2020 at the earliest. 

Is your device LTE enabled? What kind of speeds do you receive?


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  • hi there, actually this is two part question

    1- can a software update the qualities of a hardware ?
    2- well if it does why can't a software update a hardware that supports 3g to 4g ?

    • I'm not sure what you mean with "qualities". Software updates can improve the way hardware works since software is what makes hardware work. A more polished software, with less bugs will make any hardware work better.

      2.- Because that is not how it works. 3G and 4G work in different wireless spectrums or bands,is not the same frequency. Your carrier must have support for these in order for you to connect to 4G. For them to switch from 3G to 4G they also need to buy the frequency spectrums and that is very regulated by the government, another carrier or any other institution.

  • I'm using a ZTE Z Max on TMobile, I'm in an LTE area though occasionally the connection will switch between HSPA+ and LTE. I must say that even with just HSPA+ I'm quite satisfied with my speeds.

  • i live in egypt and 4g has not come yet , so should i buy a 4g LTE mobile or it will not give me any advantage ?

    • Unfortunately, it won't give you an advantage until 4G arrives in your area. 4G must operate on a suitable frequency band to work, it doesn't "upscale" 3G or anything like that.

      Try and find out when 4G will become available in your region and see if a smartphone with 4G LTE compatibility would be worth getting for the future :)

  • khan Nov 12, 2014 Link to comment

    what about galaxy s4 i9515 it shows h+ not 4g .pack tells it has 4g capacity

    • Hey, Khan, good question. H+ is a version of 4G, just as LTE is. It must be that your carrier/ location only currently supports H+. It will provide similar results as LTE, though, so don't worry too much.

      • khan Nov 12, 2014 Link to comment

        thanks a lot I was so much sad about it .I am not well in english .I love admin thanks a lot

      • khan Nov 12, 2014 Link to comment

        how can I chang h+ to 4g icon when my mobile will get lollipop I will be able to see 4g icon on my status bar.h+ ànd 4g depends on software or mobile hardware plz inform me?

      • 4G depends on hardware but it also depends on the carrier hardware. If your carrier doesn't support 4G you won't connect to the 4G network no matter what hardware and what software update you do on your device.

  • what about Cat4 & Cat6? what are those? 😮

  • I have a Nexus 5 D821, and in Brazil we used to use Claro as the main LTE, Its like WiFi when we get the sinal, but only when you'de don't used the full capacity of the data capacity

  • Glen S. Nov 11, 2014 Link to comment

    I have a Note 3,LTE capable and when I can receive it, it's almost identical to WIFI speeds.

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