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The Real Deal: Do you need 4G?

Updated: Thursday, April 10 2014, 02:52 PM EDT

ALBANY - Pre-sales for the iPhone 5 sold-out in less than an hour and there is no doubt, the lines at Apple stores will be out the door when the phone hits shelves.  You've likely seen the ads pushing the "4G" technology but what does that actually mean? What more do you get from "4G" than you're getting from "3G"?


Some cell phone users don't know and don't care but others like David Barrett fully understand, "I have a real frustration with 3G on my current iPhone, when I'm out it's just not acceptable, especially when you compare it with your wifi at home and that is actually quicker," he says.  As an avid Apple fan, Barrett has pre-ordered the iPhone 5 which is the first Apple product to offer 4G service, "I just like to have something really quick and if I'm constantly waiting, waiting, waiting it just takes up too much time," he says. 


So, what exactly does 4G coverage get you?  "If you do a lot of streaming video or audio or large downloads on your phone, then you will benefit.  But most people who are just doing things like email, twitter or facebook, that's not exactly going to be a huge improvement for things like that," says Justin Azoff a Senior Network Analyst at the University of Albany. 


A user has to be within range of a 4G network to actually get the service.  Verizon and T-Mobile upgraded technology in the Capital Region about a year ago in order to offer 4G coverage. Most Android phones now have 4G compatible technology.  Independent testers have shown that Verizon's network is the strongest in the area.  AT&T just launched its 4G network in the Capital Region a few months ago.  "I am worried that the infrastructure is not there with AT&T but I think it's going to follow and I'd rather be waiting and have the equipment when it does come," says Barrett. 


If you are connected to 4G, something to keep in mind: the quicker you're able to download data, the more of it you'll likely use and if you don't have an unlimited data plan, it could get expensive quickly.  "You get this 4G phone and after a couple of days, you've already totally blown through your monthly quota for data transfer and you might find it gets a lot slower after that or you get an unexpected $300 phone bill that month," says Azoff.

The Real Deal: Do you need 4G?


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