Thursday, February 25, 2010

Best Mobile Cell Phone: Review

What is the best possible wireless cellphone for your needs? There are so many mobile options to pick from and decisions to make that it is not easy to understand what choices to make. This review series will discuss all aspects of the different options to look at in order to pick the perfect phone and service for you.We will go through all the differences in networks and operators, and discuss how they impact your cell phone choice - then we will review the cell phones themselves.
image by tonynetone

Mobile, wireless, cellular technologies: what you need to know

Wireless operators use three different primary technologies. Each requires a different kind of phone. Each operator uses a set of frequency bands within its technology. So, to be able to operate on a wireless operator's network, your phone must be compatible with its basic technology, and be able to use the right frequency bands.

Picking a phone implies picking a technology and a set of frequency bands, which will, in turn, limit your choice of operators. By picking the most common technology and the most commonly used frequency bands, you can improve your choices of phones and of operators.

The most common wireless technologies for cell phone use in the US are GSM, CDMA, TDMA and iDEN, a variant of TDMA. They go through technology generations, often referred to as 2G, 2.5G, 3G, 3.5G and 4G.

TDMA has been progressively absorbed into GSM standards and does not represent a separate technology thread any more. Cingular (now AT&T) migrated from TDMA to GSM. Nextel, now owned by Sprint, operates on iDEN, a related technology, and plans to migrate to Sprint's CDMA network in the future. TDMA and iDEN do not have a broad future in the US.

CDMA is primarily used by Verizon, Sprint, and regional operator US Cellular, in the US. It is used by a small number of networks around the world outside of te US, including in China. CDMA was 2G. CDMA turned into CDMA2000 1xRTT (2.5G), then CDMA2000 1x EV-DO (3G).

GSM is used by most of the world, and, in the US, by AT&T Wireless and T-Mobile. GSM was 2nd generation wireless, referred to as 2G. Its 2.5G evolution was GPRS, followed by EDGE (sometimes referred to 2.75G), now evolving into UMTS (sometimes referred to as WCDMA) for a 3G (3rd generation) technology. While GSM/GPRS/EDGE can carry voice and data, UMTS allows much faster connectivity and is preferred for fast data and broadband use.

Too complex to follow? The good news is that there is a trend to unify both GSM and CDMA evolution directions towards a common 4G technology call LTE Advanced. Verizon is already doing early deployment for a 3.5G precursor, LTE, and AT&T is planning to do the same. The bad news is that Sprint has already picked an alternative technology called WiMAX, typically associated with broadband rather than mobile use, and spent multiple billion dollars on it. This excellent article on TechSpot tells you all you need to know about 4G in the US.

So what technology should you pick? Our next page will tell you.

Updated: 4G links 

                                           Next: Picking the Best Wireless Technology                Next Page >>

No comments:

Post a Comment