3G Phones for DummiesWhat is a 3G phone?

 3G is an abbreviation for Third Generation and is used when referring to the third generation of mobile phone technology. 3G services have been defined internationally and include standards for reliability and data transfer speed rates. Many 3G service providers provide a higher speed than the set standard.

3G offers mobile TV streaming, video calls and internet access. Essentially, 3G phones are like laptops and can accommodate e-mail access and various other internet services. The advent of 3G and a larger smartphone market place has seen an explosion in mobile internet access.

What does 3G technology offer that 2G doesn't?

 3G networks have the ability to reach transfer speeds of up to 3 Mbps, which means it can potentially take a mere 15 seconds to download an average MP3 song. However, 2G technology can only achieve 144Kps which roughly mean's it could take 8 minutes to download the very same MP3. 3G is also ideal for downloading and sending content to and from the internet due to its high data rates. 3G technology also enables video calls and as such, 3G phones come with two cameras - one forward and on rear facing. 3G offers the ability to access the Internet wherever you are, unlike WiFi which has a set range and depends on a wireless connection to a hard-wired router connection.

Are there any downsides to 3G?

 Although 3G is fantastic for accessing the internet, it can also quickly drain a phone's battery life due to the amount of power it requires. The only way to prevent this is to switch off the 3G access on your phone whenever it is not in use. Another sticking point will be where you live. The fact is, if you live away from a large population centre, then it is highly unlikely that you will be able to access a 3G network.

What do I need to access 3G?

 The first obvious thing you will require is a device, like a mobile phone, that is 3G compatible. 3G has nothing to do with memory, just a phone that offers 3G functionality. The best known 3G handset is the iPhone. 3G is not to be confused with WiFi which can be accessed free of charge in certain WiFi hotspots. 3G is a subscription based service.

How do I access 3G?

 You can gain 3G access through your handset's sim card. As long as you are within a 3G network, you can connect to the internet just by having your phone’s 3G capability turned on.

Are 3G phones expensive?

 This depends entirely on the phone package your network offers, remember prices will vary greatly between networks. The majority of providers offer a package that can be capped at a certain amount. Research is essential, whether you are buying tour own phone or you are signing up for a contract 3G phone, either way this is a big outlay and your phone will have to last you a few years.

Heather Grey writes regularly about 3G phones. She is not a fan of modern technology but has had to move with the times