4G LTE – What is it and do I need a phone that has it?

So often, as regular phone users, we hear how the latest smartphone models have all these ‘must have’ abilities and additions. One of these that carriers like to mention is 4G LTE. But what is it exactly? Is it necessary for our mobile phones to have it? If our current handset doesn’t have it, should we be upgrading as soon as possible? Let’s take a closer look.

What is 4G LTE?

Well when you hear what 4G LTE stands for, it’s not really going to bring you any closer to understanding exactly what it does. 4G LTE stands for fourth-generation long-term evolution. See, don’t say we didn’t warn you.


But that’s why we at Envisage Phones run our site. To help inform the regular customer in the street about these very technical smartphone terms.

Currently, 4G LTE is the best phone technology available. It specifically refers to the ability of a handset to both deliver and receive data at a rapid rate. There is even a protocol for this set by the International Telecommunication Union. This states that all 4G capable handsets must be around 100 megabits per second. When it comes to mobile hotspots, this figure must increase to no less than 1 gigabit per second.

So where does the long term evolution part fit in? Well, when LTE standards were established in 2008, they were pretty far-fetched for the time. Yes, some carriers could meet the demands of the International Telecommunication Union, but the body realized that this should be aspired to, hence the long term evolution part. And this is constantly changing as mobile phone technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate. Today, the standards set out by the International Telecommunication Union are met by carriers all over the world.

4G LTE challenges

Well 4G LTE sounds incredible, right? It is, but there are still some challenges to this type of network.

For one, this type of service is often not available to people living outside of major metropolitan areas. Make no mistake, rolling out this technology is not cheap and for this reason, many carriers only have it in major metropolitan areas. This means that as soon as you leave a large city, your phone will not connect to the 4G LTE network anymore but to a lower capacity option such as 3G. Although 3G networks are common in many places around the world, they do offer lower upload and download speeds.

Not only that, but if you find yourself in these lesser capacity networks, there is the chance that you will find more calls dropping. This is as a result of the circuit-switching used on older networks. This means that when a call is placed, a connection is made directly between the two handsets. If something happens to this connection, a call is then dropped. This is unlike a connection between two handsets in a working 4G LTE network. Here, call information is sent along a number of different nodes, so if one drops, a new connection for that information is quickly established without the call dropping.

The many advantages of modern 4G LTE networks

If you are looking for speed in data downloads and uploads, then look no further than 4G LTE. It is perfect for extremely fast downloads – around 5 to 12 megabits per second – which means it is the perfect way to utilize online streaming services such as Netflix.

It is also one of the preferred networks for mobile gaming, ensuring a very low latency, one of the most important things gamers look for. For those who like using video chat options like Apple Facetime or even video calls on Skype, 4G LTE is the answer as well as its incredible speed means these types of calls are clear and never break up.

Finally, with over 80% of people now using their mobile devices for internet searches, 4G LTE offers the fastest browsing options available.

So do I need a 4G LTE capable handset?

This is really only a question you can answer for yourself. If you use online streaming services, play games online, browse the internet mostly from your phone or prefer using video calling when talking to family and friends then 4G LTE will definitely be of benefit to you.

Bear in mind however, no matter how fast the network, you will always be held back by the data allocation in your mobile phone plan/contract that you have with your carrier. So if you are going to go the 4G LTE route, make sure you have enough data allocated.


4G LTE – What is it and do I need a phone that has it?