One of such features is that commonly known as “Network Mode.” Basically, network mode is a feature found in your mobile’s Settings menu. It allows you to peg your smartphone to 3G mode, 2G mode, or auto mode. The issue is this: not all mobiles allow you this complete array of options. Here are the three possible options again:
- Auto (3G/2G) mode
- 2G-only mode
- 3G-only mode
You don’t have to understand all the technicalities, but you do need to recognise what the names/tags stand for so that you don’t get confused. One manufacturer may use the label “GSM” instead of “2G.” Same thing. If you see GPRS or EDGE, that’s 2G too. I hope I expressed that in a way you can understand. Here, in simple terms:
2G = GSM/GPRS/EDGE. 3G = UMTS/WCDMA.
Also, note that 2G/GSM/GPRS/EDGE = slow, while 3G/UMTS/WCDMA = fast.
Many phones give you the options for either auto or 2G only. Just two options. That may sound good and okay, but in my experience the full options is essential. Why? There are times that I need high-speed internet, but having only an auto option means that the device switches between 2G and 3G depending on which signal is stronger per time and location.
Meanwhile, a weaker 3G signal still delivers much faster speeds than the strongest 2G signal. At those times that I need 3G-only service, the full range of options come in handy. I simply peg the device to 3G-only and problem solved.
I have been in such a situation too many times, so I appreciate the full options being available on my mobile devices. So, how do the different mobile platforms fare?
Symbian: Full Options
Symbian always gave the full range of options. Every single Symbian smartphone has the full options.
Android: A little here and there
On Android, it is a mishmash. Some devices (be they smartphones or tablets) give you the full range, while others give you only auto and 2G-only.
iOS: Auto & 2G-only
On iOS, iOS allows you to switch between auto and 2G-only too (at least iOS 5.1 on the iPhone 3GS).
On the few Windows Mobile devices that I have seen, it is just auto and 2G-only options too.
Nokia S40 and other feature phones
My experience with feature phones, but I have used a few Nokia S40, LG and Sony Ericsson feature phones. I still have access to a Sony Ericsson W595 and it gives only two options: auto and 2G-only. I however do not remember what the network mode options on Nokia’s S40 phones look like. Same goes for other manufacturers.
Need 3G-only at times?
At the moment, I am certain that Symbian/Belle devices and some Android smartphones/tablets gives the user the liberty to peg their devices on 3G only should there be a need. Take note: not all Android devices, so you have to do some research.
If 3G-only service is important to you under certain circumstances, do take note and be sure to look out for this when purchasing your devices.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.