Everything Everywhere: Just How Fast Is It & Is It Worth Upgrading For?

Of all the questions we get asked about Everything Everywhere’s super fast 4G mobile broadband, the most frequent is how fast is it compared to 3G and is it really worth it?

Well, we got hold of a 4G-enabled Samsung S3 and thought we’d get scientific and see just how fast it is. We pitted the Samsung S3 4G handset against a trusty 3G iPhone 4S across a range of tests to see how they both perform.

Our first port of call was an obvious one: speed tests. We’ve all used them and they’re a great way to give you an up-to-date snapshot of what sort of speed your handset is getting. We started with a our 3G handset and we managed to get a solid 2.60Mps – which isn’t brilliant, but is more than enough to use social networks, send some emails and watch Youtube.

Then we fired up the Samsung and managed a hit a low of 15Mbps and highs of 20Mbps – to put that into perspective: the average UK house hold is around 5-9Mbps – so compared to home broadband 4G actually outpaces average home uses by as much as double.

So it’s fast.

We then tried a similar test and downloaded some apps from Google’s play store and low-and-behold the 4G handset smashed its 3G counterpart – downloading a popular app in just seconds, compared to a couple of minutes on our 3G handset. Though it must be said there’s no guarantee that the app store was maxing out our connection in either instance.

We also tried a host of video streaming sites including Netflix, Youtube and Skyplayer and on each occasion the 4G handset kept a steadier connection and didn’t drop out once. Obviously depending where you are in a city and whether you’re on the move it can significantly effect the speed you’ll get – but if you’re sat in a coffee shop with decent signal, degradation seems to be a lot less apparent than 3G.

How much does it cost?

At the moment EE is mainly aimed a early adopters, and their tariffs seems to reflect this. Their packages come with the usual calls, texts and data. Their data packages range from the rather paltry 500MG to 8GB per month. If you go for their 8GB package that will cost you £56 a month, for 24 months – which is frighteningly expensive for a phone contract. Plus, unless you live in a major city then EE’s coverage won’t stretch out to the suburbs.

The major thing to bear in mind here, though, is that a 4G connection will be much faster than standard 3G and as such, you may blast through your data allowance much more swiftly, particularly as you will not have to wait for a Wi-Fi connection before downloading that new game or movie.

Which handset should I buy?

Handsets which are able to run on Everything Everywhere’s network include  Apple, Samsung, Nokia, HTC and Huawei –  which one you choose is mainly down to personal preference – but bear in mind you’ll eat through your data far quicker than 3G – so it’s likely you’ll see your bills rise if your a heavy user or if you use hotspots often.

What about the rest of the network?

As it stands, EE is the only network to offer a 4G network – but the rest will be launching their own service throughout 2013. Vodafone reckons its service will be faster that EE because they own more fibre capacity than there competitors and therefore they think that their, as yet unreleased, network will offer faster speeds and greater indoor capability.

O2 are currently deep in testing, too, and similar to Vodafone hasn’t released any details on when they’ll be ready to launch – but their trials have managed an eye-watering 100Mbps during trial periods – which makes EE’s service look positively sloth-like.

Three Network are also in a testing phase, but it’s worth noting that they actually buy their bandwidth and spectrum from its competitors – so their service is likely to be very similar to either Vodafone’s or O2’s .

To buy or not to buy?

Well, if you’re desperate for a quicker connection there’s no doubt that EE’s 4G offers significant improvements over 3G. And if you need it for your business it’s surely going to be a worthy investment. But if your a traditional consumer it’s probably worth waiting for some competition from the other networks as they’ll bring down prices significantly. At the moment 4G just seems a little bit too expensive to us – and is firmly aimed at early adopters with deep pockets. As long as you know your data requirements and are happy to live with the increased costs, then a faster, much improved mobile life awaits you.

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- who has written 609 posts on UK Gadget and Tech News, Reviews and Shopping.

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