A 3G phone is a phone built to work on a 3rd generation cell phone network. The 3rd generation of telecommunications replaced the 2.5G. 3G allows for higher efficiency, which in turn lets carriers offer expanded services. Some things that people associate with 3G networks are video calls, broadband data services, and wide-area wireless, all piped through a mobile phone. Speeds through HSPA can get as high as 14.4 Mbit/s downloading and 5.8 Mbit/s uploading, which are substantially higher than those on older generations.
It is important to note that although 2.5G protocols may be able to use 3G services, they are not in fact 3G protocols, and a phone that uses these networks is not a true 3G phone. EDGE for GSM, for example, is a 2.5G protocol that can use many 3G services, but the speeds are quite a bit slower than they would be on an actual 3G protocol. Some people differentiate services like this by referring to them as 2.75G, showing that they are even closer to 3G than 2.5G is, but are still not entirely there.
Early 3G networks began appearing in 2001 in Japan and Europe, but it wasn’t until 2003 that Verizon introduced a 3G network to the United States. The benefits were immediately apparent to consumers, many of whom had begun using their cell phones for more than just phone calls. As a result, the rush to 3G, especially among businesspeople, was fast and large. Most major phone manufacturers came out with a 3G phone, and in recent years they have become even more sophisticated.
Buying a 3G phone is largely a matter of personal preference, as different phones offer very different looks, feels, and features. Buying a 3G phone may often mean buying into a specific network, as well, which is an important consideration. The new 3G iPhone, for example, is an extremely popular 3G phone, but requires buying into the AT&T network, which is not the most popular 3G network. In many cases, a good first step to deciding what 3G phone is right for you is to decide what network works best for you, and if you choose to stay with your own network, to look at the 3G options they offer.
The next step is to decide whether you want to use your phone primarily for business, or whether you want it to have features that are fun for personal use as well. For some businesspeople or government employees, for example, a camera like that found on the iPhone would not be allowed in secure areas, requiring the phone to be left behind. Many professional-grade Blackberries, on the other hand, do not feature a camera for precisely this reason.
Text input is also a large part of using a 3G phone, since one of the main benefits is the ability to browse the web and write and send emails. As a result, the text input the phone offers is a major buying factor. There are two main types of input: touch-screen based keyboards, and mini-keyboards.
The iPhone, for example, features a large touch screen on which a keyboard pops up, allowing users to type by touching the screen. Most Blackberries, on the other hand, have actual miniature keyboards. Some phones contain both options, and this is becoming more common. As this is largely a matter of personal taste, it is recommended that potential buyers spend some time writing on a phone before buying it.