One question I am asked all the time is whether the Samsung Galaxy S3 is better than the iPhone 5. It's the new "Mac or PC?" I have a fairly standard answer for this, which is that it depends on what you want from a phone. The S3 is better for people that like a product with loads of features they can customise, and a working map. The iPhone is better for those that prefer a simpler product with less extraneous stuff they will barely use.
But today the mobile landscape has changed. 4G is launching in the UK on 30 October from EE, although no prices have been announced yet. That means there is something else to worry about when you are weighing up which smart phone to buy -- which 4G bands it will operate on.
To give yourself the best chance of ending up with a phone that will work on O2, Vodafone, EE, Three and all the rest's 4G services, you will need a phone that supports the 800, 1,800 and 2,600MHz bands. Of those, the iPhone 5 only supports the 1,800MHz band, which means it is likely it will only ever be able to use the 4G service from EE and Three. That's going to suck if you want to switch to a cheaper deal on a different network, or if other companies can provide a better signal in your area.
But EE has confirmed to me today that the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE it is selling supports all of them. You need to make sure that you buy the LTE version and not the normal 3G model that's been on sale for months though. If you need a phone that's as future-proofed as it's possible to get in the world of cutting-edge tech, that's the one I'd recommend buying. Yes, I know that technically other phones are available that support 4G, but do they particularly matter?
One caveat here -- we don't actually know how easy it will be to move from one network to another's 4G. It's possible the phone networks will use the switch to prevent people from unlocking their phones and hopping over to a rival once their contract is up. But it seems sensible to try to pick a phone now that supports all the UK 4G bands, which will at least make switching providers technically possible.
Another related question -- is it even worth buying a phone without 4G capability now? For those at the cutting-edge with iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 amounts of money to spend, I'd say no. For those with more modest budgets, 4G will take a couple of years at least to be available across the country, so you can mostly ignore it for now, providing you're okay with buying a new phone when your contract is up.
Do you have any questions about 4G? Ask me in the comments below and I will try and find out the answers for you. And while you're here, check out our speed test video of every 4G-ready smart phone EE is selling as of today.