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3G vs 4G vs 4G+: Mobile data speeds explained

What’s the difference between 3G and 4G? And what is Double Speed 4G and 4G+, and is it much faster than standard 4G? We take a look at your phone’s data connection to see what speeds you can expect.

3G vs 4G: What’s the difference?

3G used to be the standard data connection in the UK, offering average speeds of around 5-6Mbps (Megabits Per Second) when browsing the web, streaming music and video and downloading apps or files. However, this is now being surpassed by 4G, which is offered by almost every UK mobile provider, usually at no extra cost.

4G gives an average speed of 15Mbps, over twice the speed of 3G – although it can feasibly reach speeds of 30Mbps under perfect test conditions, with no other mobile traffic clogging things up. It’s therefore much better suited to video streaming and other demanding online tasks.

Of course, 4G coverage isn’t quite as strong as 3G coverage in the UK on most mobile networks. That’s why anyone on a 4G data contract will likely see their connection drop to 3G as they roam about. EE currently boasts the greatest 4G coverage, reaching 96 percent of the UK population.

What is Double Speed 4G and 4G+?

EE offers UK cutomers data connections that are even faster than standard 4G. Its ‘Double Speed 4G’ can reach max speeds of 60Mbps – exactly double the standard 4G cap, so at least it isn’t false advertising. EE claims that over 35 million people in the UK live in a catchment area for Double Speed 4G right now.

EE isn’t stopping there, however. The UK network is in the process of rolling out 4G+, which is capable of 90Mbps speeds (comparable to Fibre broadband). So far 4G+ is only available in parts of London, but this should expand across the nation soon.

Bear in mind that you’ll need a 4G+ compatible phone to use the service. You’re looking for something that supports LTE-A (LTE Advanced) bandwiths, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S7, the iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, Sony’s Xperia Z5 or the LG G5.

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