Welcome to The 411, my column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have similar queries, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.
Question: Now that Sprint's 4G is finally coming to New York City, I was thinking of getting a 4G phone. Are the speeds really that good? Should I get a WiMax phone from Sprint, or will I regret it if LTE becomes the new standard? -- Michael, via e-mail
In general terms, yes, 4G is faster than 3G, at least where Sprint is concerned. Sprint's 4G WiMax can offer speeds of up to 10Mbps down, though real-world speeds average out to around 3Mbps to 6Mbps. This is far faster than Sprint's EV-DO, which tops out at around 3Mbps.
As for whether it's faster than 3G in general, at this point, it's about on par with T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, which is still technically 3G technology. However, WiMax and LTE have the capacity for much faster speeds--up to 40Mbps or more. These are early days for 4G, so we expect speeds to improve as carriers grow their infrastructure. As for whether you should place your bets on WiMax or LTE, you shouldn't fret. Sprint has already mentioned that it has the ability to switch from WiMax to LTE without too many headaches. In our opinion though, it does seem like LTE will be the more globally accepted standard, as both Verizon and AT&T have come out in support of it.… Read more