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Internet phones & mobile web use explained

uSwitch looks at the best internet phones. Read this for a simple guide to the best internet mobiles around.

Once upon a time mobile phones were purely used for calls and text messages. That all changed with the advent of 3G technology and internet capable-phones, which gave users the ability to send and receive data over their network.

This meant that services like email, instant messaging, media streaming and content downloads were now possible. To all intents and purposes, an internet phone is is almost like a passport to a world of information.

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Internet phone browsing speeds

Internet phones usually connect to the internet via the same 3G network technology that is used for getting online with a mobile broadband dongle. That means depending on the strength of your connection and your location you could be surfing the web on your phone at speeds of up to 7.2Mbps.

However, internet phones can also get online via a wireless home broadband connection or a WiFi hotspot. You can usually find a range of connection options to get online in the settings menu of your phone. WiFi will generally provide steadier connections and faster speeds than 3G.

Mobile web pages

Internet phones have smaller screens than home computers, tablets or laptops. To cater for this, web designers have created special versions of websites that are designed specially to be easy to use and view while using a mobile. The simpler layouts mean quicker loading times, too.

Internet phone allowances

When you buy an internet phone on a contract, you will be given a monthly web usage allowance. Any usage you build up after this point will incur extra charges, as determined by your network provider. These allowances are usually measured in MB (Megabytes) or GB (Gigabytes).

That means that if you expect to be making a lot of use your phone’s internet capability, it’s a good idea to choose a contract that affords you a generous data allowance.

Many contracts promise you 'unlimited' web usage. However, these are becoming less and less common as more and more people now use their phones to go online, putting a strain on networks.

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Which mobiles offer internet access?

The spread of technology means that nowadays only the most basic, stripped down phones are not equipped a web browser and capability to connect to the internet.

You’ll find web browsers on handsets from all major manufacturers. However, if you plan on taking advantage of all the great video content online, you may want to choose a handset with a larger screen for a more satisfying and user-friendly mobile internet experience.

What is tethering?

Tethering is a relatively new function in internet phones. The term refers to using your handset as a mobile broadband dongle to get online with a laptop or other web enabled device.

Phones that support tethering capability include iPhones as well as most Android mobiles. Those taking advantage of their phone’s tethering function should be aware that charges vary between networks. Some carriers will simply deduct any usage from tethering from your monthly allowance. However, others charge extra for tethering, meaning that the unwary could face some unexpectedly high monthly bills.

Why choose an internet phone?

Almost everything that you can do on the internet can now be done with an internet phone. One of the biggest draws for many people is that they can check and send emails wherever they are, as well as keep in touch with loved ones via social networking and video calling.

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