3G mobile phones are mobile internet-enabled handsets that offer great services such as video calling, web-browsing, downloading content and streaming video and music while you're on the move.
3G mobile phones operate on a 3G mobile network - a network designed specifically to allow phones to carry out more than just voice functions.
Most mobile phones currently on the market are 3G mobile phones. If you're looking for a handset that will let you browse the web, watch TV or make video calls then you'll need a 3G mobile phone.
What is a 3G mobile phone?
3G mobile phones run on the 3G, or 3rd generation, mobile phone network. In the UK, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) is the dominant 3G standard.
Mobile networks were originally designed for voice traffic and nothing more. But the development of the 3G mobile phone network means that large amounts of data can be transferred quickly and cost effectively, thus clearing the way for mobiles to offer services that were previously not possible.
3G mobile phones are designed to run web-based applications as well as send and download large audio and video files. This means that they require increased bandwidth and transfer rates.
With the first two generations of mobile networks, we could talk and send messages wherever there was a signal. Now, thanks to 3G technology we are able to send data like movie clips and music around the world from our mobile phones in a matter of seconds.
3G mobile phones are becoming more and more powerful every day. In fact, carrying some of the latest 3G mobile phones around is similar to carrying a mini laptop in your handbag or pocket. You can stream TV programmes, browse the internet, and check your email, all from the comfort of your 3G mobile phone!
Can you use a 3G mobile phone anywhere?
The great thing about 3G mobile phones is that even if there is no 3G mobile phone network available, you can still use the standard calling and messaging features using the conventional GSM network.
Although the 3G mobile phone network has really widespread coverage, you may find that there are some rural areas where the 3G functions of your mobile phone are not available. In these situations, you will still be able to use your phone, though you may not be able to access the web-based applications that require a high bandwidth and fast connection.
Do 3G mobile phones cost more to use?
Calling or texting from a 3G mobile phone costs the same as it would from any other mobile phone.
If you are looking to use all the extra features packed into 3G mobile phones then you may find that there are some extra charges to consider. Just as sending a multimedia message generally costs more than sending a standard text message, it’s worth bearing in mind that a video call may cost a bit more than a standard mobile phone call.
If you’re going to get a 3G mobile phone, it's definitely worth choosing a mobile phone tariff that offers you a multimedia or web-browsing bundle. These mobile phone bundle packages will normally give you a download allowance which you are unlikely to exceed, and therefore will not incur excess charges on your phone bill.
Don't need a 3G mobile phone? Compare all our cheap mobile phones
Who uses 3G mobile phones?
More and more of us are using 3G mobile phones every day. In fact, many of us already own a 3G mobile phone and just don’t realise that’s what it is. The 3G mobile phone is fast becoming an essential for anyone who wants to stay in touch beyond the capabilities of a standard mobile phone.
Business persons are finding that 3G mobile phones are great organisational tools. With smartphones and PDA phones really taking off among enterprise users in the last few years, many now can’t remember how they ever got along without them.
It’s not just business people who are reaping the benefits of the 3G network and the popularity of the 3G mobile phone, though. Many of us also enjoy the flexibility that having truly portable access to the internet, our emails, TV programmes, social networks and much more, allowing us to stay entertained and stay in the loop with friends and family wherever we are.
Can’t see the model you’re looking for? Compare all the latest mobile phone deals