— UPDATED! —
Ok, It has come to our attention that with the holidays people will be getting new phones and new pone carriers. Here is a breakdown of speeds, network technologies, and lay-terms that you need to know before buying anything or signing a contract. This guide is posted to make sure you know how things work before your purchase and choice of carrier.
Terms you may here a lot are “4G”, “LTE”, “3G”, “CDMA”, “GSM”, “Bandwidth”, etc don’t get overwhelmed, its not as bad as you think, all of these terms do mean something.
Heres what everything means:
CDMA is a type of network technology, so is GSM, there are other out there as well called DIN and PCS.
Lets get the uncommon ones out of the way first.
PCS is basically the early form of CDMA, if they say PCS odds are its CDMA. (Sprint would be a prime example of this, they started out as PCS and are now CDMA with PCS compatibility for ancient devices)
DIN is also a very old technology and is only in use by one carrier we are aware of here in the US. That carrier is Boost Mobile. Unless your going with them, don’t even worry about this. Just know its slow, and not terribly reliable and your good to go.
Now for the common technologies.
CDMA (this one is everywhere), runs Verizon, Sprint, Cricket, Metro PCS, Clear and a couple other small carriers (straight talk wireless uses CDMA for some of its phones). CDMA has better call clarity, but there are draw backs when it comes to data speeds and network multitasking.
GSM is stable, allows for voice and data at the same time (browse the web and talk on the phone at the same time), Data throughput (bandwidth, speed you can upload or download) tends to be faster than CDMA. GSM runs carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. (straight talk uses GSM for some of their phones).
In addition CDMA carriers and GSM carriers authenticate your device differently. With GSM carriers all of the network authentication for the device is handled using the sim card, which doesn’t require any work on the phones part. CDMA authenticates your device differently. CDMA checks the devices IMEI and has a small software load that runs on the device. In general your hardware will preform better on GSM than CDMA even for non-network related tasks. GSM carriers have an advantage that their network, because it allows for multiple simultaneous connections, both upstream and downstream, performs data transfers and interactive network transactions (like Facebook, Gaming or other things that require sending and receiving of data at the same time) substantially faster.
And on to the various network technologies that drive cellular networks.
GPRS (known as 1x on CDMA like Verizon and Sprint), Very slow data transfer, essential for calling, generally you will never see this unless you have bad service in that area, speeds average about 3Kbps down 1Kbps up. Can’t do voice and data at the same time.
EDGE (aka 2G, does not exist for CDMA carriers) connection speeds are about double dialup (20Kbps down, 10Kbps up) Can’t do voice and data at the same time
3G (aka HSPA for GSM, or EVDO for CDMA) Can do voice and data at the same time on GSM, Download speeds average 2,000-4,000Kbps down, 1,000-2,000kbps up.
4G (aka HSPA+, does not exist for CDMA) Can do voice and data at the same time on GSM, Download speeds average 3,000-9,000Kbps down, 1,000-5,000kbps up.
LTE (aka 4G-LTE, exists on AT&T, Verizon and Sprint) Can do voice and data at the same time on GSM, Download speeds average 2,000-90,000Kbps down, 1,000-65,000kbps up for GSM and 2,000-50,000Kbps down, 1000-33,000kbps for CDMA
Wi-MAX (aka 4G-WI-MAX, exists solely on Sprint), 2,000-50,000Kbps down, 1000-33,000kbps. out dated standard being phased out in favor of LTE.
All speeds listed are in bits not bytes. Below is the conversion for bits, and bytes.
1Gb = 1024Mb ~ 1Mb = 1024Kb ~ 1Kb = 1024 bits
1GB = 1024MB ~ 1MB = 1024KB ~ 1KB = 1024 bytes ~ 1 byte = 8 bits
Remember Bytes are generally a capital B and bits are generally a lower case b.
In terms of storage, hard drive and memory card manufactures use 1000 as the conversion factor not the actual 1024 so sizes for storage will vary from what is listed.
Actual speeds for networks can and will vary from those stated here, those speeds are guidelines for what to expect, your results maybe faster or slower.