4G offers super fast connectivity, with speeds on average up to five times faster than 3G. That means that if you really, really want to make the most of your up-to-the-minute smartphone, you're going to need a 4G contract.
From seamless music streaming, video that's free of buffering, lightning-quick downloads and super-slick multi-tasking, 4G can handle it all.
But which 4G carrier is best? Which is fastest? And what extras or sweeteners are 4G networks offering? Here, we outline some of what you can expect for your monthly outlay to help you get the right 4G deal for you.
As the UK's first 4G carrier, EE had something of a head-start over rivals. So it's perhaps to be expected that EE's network is the UK's most extensive, taking in 160 towns and cities. That covers over 65% of the population.
EE's early start has also meant it has been able to improve the speed of its service and offers double speed 4G in a host of UK cities.
These are Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.
EE 4G contract and pay as you go prices are in line with other networks, with the cheapest contract deal coming in at under £20 per month.
One of the best things about EE, though, are the sweeteners. These include 2 for 1 cinema tickets and pizzas at Pizza Express every Wednesday, plus the option to rent a movie for 99p to watch on your tablet, smartphone or laptop on Thursdays.
O2's 4G network now encompasses 13 cities and will cover 98% of the population by 2015.
Sweeteners with O2 are also impressive and take in Priority Moments, which gives access to gig tickets at O2 venues a full 48 hours before they go on general release. O2 Priority Sports is also popular and offers the same service for sports events.
Three's 4G network isn't huge at the time of writing and takes in just London, Manchester and Birmingham. However, it plans to have rolled out 4G to 50 cities by the close of 2014. By the end of 2015, it's aiming to be able to offer a 4G service to 98% of the population.
Three customers who have 4G phones but who have until now been on 3G qualify for 4G for no extra charge.
T-Mobile and Orange 4G
These partner carriers come under the umbrella brand EE and share the same network. However, they are currrently being run as 3G-only carriers. If you want 4G, you'll have to sign up with EE.
Towns and cities where you can currently get 4G with Vodafone are Birmingham, Bradford Coventry, Edinburgh Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. As with its rivals, it is targeting 98% coverage by the end of 2015.
The cheapest Vodafone 4G contracts start at a shade under £20 per month.
4G customers on Vodafone get a choice of Sky Sports Mobile TV or Spotify Premium included.
Is it worth upgrading to a 4G tariff?
This really depends on what you use your phone for. If you're a heavy downloader or stream a lot of content or like to do lots of web-dependent things with your phone simultaneously, 4G could be just what you've been waiting for. It also means that you probably won't mind paying a bit extra to get a super-fast service.
However, if you just use your smartphone for checking your mail and the odd bit of light surfing, 4G might not be right for you.
4G download allowances
Compared with 3G contracts, 4G deals that offer unlimited downloads are a relative rarity. That means you'll have to be a bit more careful with how you use your phone. Naturally, 4G deals that do offer hefty allowances don't come cheap either, so it's worth weighing this up before you opt for a next-gen network.