Ever wondered what the 3G+ icon means on your Smartphone? Is that 4G?

4G pictureI I was reading a well worded explanation of what the catch-all term “4G” is over on blog.three.co.uk.

I was really pleased to hear their plans on 4G. I have heard the term used a lot on US blogs and it didn’t seem very straight-forward. I wasn’t even sure if the UK would be using the term.

3g-plusI have a Samsung Omnia 7 and that gets great data speeds. That could be partly down to the new IE browser on Windows Phone 7 though. In most areas I get a “3G+” icon in the top corner instead of just “3G”. This made me wonder am I getting the HSPA+ service already? That would mean I could potentially get speeds up to 128Mbps!

Knowing that three have a great blog team, I left a comment and also quizzed their twitter account @ThreeUK if that was indeed capable on my phone. Unfortunately it wasn’t really the answer I wanted.

The 3G+ symbol on the Samsung Omnia 7 actually denotes faster HSDPA data transfer as opposed to “standard” 3G. HSPA+ is the next evolution again beyond HSDPA and is not yet common in handsets Open-mouthed smile Moderator: Sedge

According to Wikipedia: “Current HSDPA deployments support down-link speeds of 1.8, 3.6, 7.2 and 14.4 Megabits/s”. I used the Mobile speed test site at DSL Reports and that showed I was getting an average speed of 3Mbps. If you just have a 3G icon that means the UMTS network is connected; If you have 3G+ (or H) icon the HSDPA/HSUPA network connected

So not quite a match for the “4G” LTE-Advanced technology. That will enable mind-blowing theoretical maximum speeds of up to 1Gbps. Hopefully that will arrive in the Windows 8 operating system timeframe of 2012-2014(Phones and Desktop OS alike) and that has the potential to really change the way we work and play

P.S. I found looking at all the related speeds a bit confusing, especially remembering that MB (MegaBytes) is different to Mb (Megabits). Thankfully, I found an old-school Bit Calculator that converts between all the sizes » BitClac

Image Source: mymobile.three.co.uk This is actually a great online “user manual” for the Omnia 7 that explains what all the icons mean and more

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