Random people using mobile phones

3G mobile phones explained

3G stands for third-generation and refers to technology that allows mobile phones to access the internet - from surfing web pages to making video calls and downloading music.

3G networks

Not too long ago, mobile networks were designed solely for voice traffic and only offered users sufficient bandwidth for the most basic applications.

Unlike their predecessors, 3G networks are capable of transmitting large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. This enabled smartphone users to access the very best things about the web for the first time ever.

Compare the latest mobile phones at uSwitch now.

What can a 3G phone do?

3G phones offer a rich internet experience and excel at on-the-go entertainment. Unique selling points of a 3G phone include:

  • Stream video from the likes of YouTube and other on-demand services such as the BBC iPlayer
  • Make video calls and see the people you are speaking to
  • Browse the internet at speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and download music and movies directly to your handset quickly and efficiently

3G network coverage explained

3G coverage is now available to around 99 per cent of the UK, so there’s no need to worry about how and when you can access all the great functions that a 3G phone offers.

However, even in those locations where 3G coverage is weaker, such as remote, rural areas, you can still use older 2G networks and make and take calls and access most other internet-based functions of your phone. However, you may find that usage of some bandwidth heavy applications is impaired, such as streaming video.

Which phones are 3G?

Most handsets nowadays are 3G phones, so will be equipped to get you online in an instant . But if you want to make the most your 3G phone’s internet capabilities, it’s a good idea to select a tariff that includes generous provision for data usage.

Data usage is a limit set on how much you can download on your phone every month. The best way to think of it is like a monthly text or calls limit, but for internet usage. If you exceed your allowance, you may be subject to excess usage charges.

Compare the newest 3G mobile phones at uSwitch now.

What is 4G?

4G is set to be the next stage in mobile phone technology. Where a 3G phone can connect to the internet at a maximum speed of up to 7.2Mbps, a 4G phone will be able to soar up to 300Mbps.

The arrival of this super fast data delivery system will offer hugely quicker downloads of music and movies as well as the chance to enjoy rich HD content in an instant and a supremely smooth mobile internet experience.

The mobile gaming experience is also set to be completely transformed by 4G, with faster connections offering more and more complex online multiplayer games that will rival even traditional consoles.

Want to know what else the future has in store for mobile telephony? Read our guide to the future of mobile phones.