When you are shopping for a new smartphone, you might come across different acronyms such as LTE and 4G. Typically, cell phone providers use terms like these to boast about their network. By understanding what these terms are, it can make you more confident with your phone and plan purchase.
First, it's important to distinguish 4G and LTE are not the same things, hence the different acronyms. While some providers tout of data speeds with 4G LTE, it's important to note each represents something different.
What is 4G?
The best definition of 4G comes from its capabilities. The International Telecommunications Union-Radio issued standards for 4G speeds back in March of 2008, stating mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets had to have connection speeds of 100 megabits per second at minimum.
At the time, this was a revolutionary standard. The standard was to make these devices more accessible by connecting to the internet faster. This is why so many car manufacturers design technology to integrate with smartphones now thanks to the fast connection speeds.
Because of the high standards set by the ITU-R, it forced companies to improve their systems to meet this network speed requirement. By doing so, you will find now that some networks which offered 3G speeds before are now at the 4G level.
What is LTE?
LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It began are a term marketed as 4G technology. However, due to the high standards issued by the ITU-R, the original 4G LTE didn't achieve the connection speeds mandated.
At the same time, LTE brought huge changes to 3G technologies, allowing them to operate at faster connection speeds. Due to this, the ITU-R changed its mind and allowed companies to name its 4G technology LTE.
The best way to understand the LTE concept is to think of it as a half-truth marketing concept because it didn't achieve the minimum 4G connection speed requirements. On this surface, this might make LTE seem fraudulent. However, given how much it improved 3G technology, creating data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G connections offer, it achieved its purpose.
3G vs. 4G
3G was the first real step towards making mobile devices internet ready. With 2G connections, you could do basic phone functions such as make phone calls, receive and send texts, and access small pockets of data through MMS.
3G opened data formats, making it quicker for mobile devices to connect to the internet. With 3G, you could surf the web, listen to music, and watch videos. 4G is a different animal altogether from 3G.
4G brings broadband speeds to your phone. Overall, 4G delivers up to 10 times faster connection speeds than 3G, illustrating how much technology has advanced in one generation.
4G LTE Speed
Cell phone providers like Verizon have combined terms like 4G and LTE to tout their fast network. In reality, unless you live in a city or have LTE-A connection speeds, you won't notice a difference between upload and download speeds relative to other 4G connections.
To provide speed illustrations, Verizon boasts its 4G LTE network is 10 times faster than 3G. It also has the capability to handle upload speeds between 2 and 5 Mbps, and download speeds from 5 to 12 Mbps.
4G LTE Phones
Because smartphones require much reliance on connecting to the internet, most of the ones you'll find have 4G LTE capabilities when paired with a reliable network. Some of the latest phones which possess this capability include:
- Samsung Galaxy S7
- iPhone 7
- LG X Power
You can visit or contact your cell phone provider to see their full list of offerings. What's more, many prepaid companies like MetroPCS are offering 4G LTE smartphones as well. So if keeping costs low is a primary concern, you have other alternatives from the big four carriers.
4G LTE Carriers
As noted above, many carriers now have these networks out of necessity. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint all have these network speeds. Therefore, since many now have 4G LTE, it's important to find the best cell phone plans to differentiate the best from the rest.
LTE vs 4G Recap
Cell phones have come a long way in a very short span of time. Enabled by 4G and LTE technology we're able to stream movies and television, play intense games, and surf the web at speeds comparable or better than most internet providers. You can use our handy checking tool to compare cell phone plans and see who offers the best 4G and LTE devices.