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4G – EE contract now or wait for the competition?

A 4G EE contract provides fast downloads, but will prices drop when the competition launches?



Upgrading to 4G isn’t just a matter of changing contracts – you’ll need an LTE-compatible handset, which limits your choices to a few major manufacturers. At the time of writing, only Apple’s iPhone 5, the Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 820, the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE and Galaxy Note II, HTC One XL and Huawei Ascend LTE are the only 4G compatible handsets available in the UK. All are available through EE, but you’ll need to pay an additional fee for the handset on almost every tariff.

Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE This is the 4G version of the Galaxy S3 – it’s otherwise identical but more expensive

Google’s new Nexus 4 handset was discovered to contain an LTE chipset that would theoretically let you use it on a 4G network, but unfortunately it’s missing several other key components that would allow it onto the frequency used on 4G networks – existing or otherwise – in the UK. All the major smartphone manufacturers are working on 4G smartphones for 2013, but we won’t know about pricing or availability until February’s Mobile World Congress show at the earliest.


Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE Speed Test 4G can be impressively fast, though mass usage at peak times could slow it down considerably

The biggest selling point for 4G is speed – it’s supposed to be up to ten times faster than traditional 3G, although of course your mileage may vary depending on signal quality and the number of concurrent users. When we tested EE’s 4G network around London, we saw download speeds peak at 40Mbit/s and uploads reach 12Mbit/s, but this more commonly dropped down to around 20Mbit/s download and 6Mbit/s upload. This is still significantly faster than what’s possible over 3G, which commonly reaches maximum speeds of just 1Mbit/s. It’s possible to stream high quality video from the likes of Netflix or YouTube, but you can quickly eclipse your usage limit and run up a large bill if you aren’t carefully monitoring your usage.

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