Is LTE better than 5G

Is 4G and LTE the same?

Differences and similarities between the two names

LTE cellular technology has been providing super-fast data connections on smartphones, tablets or at home as an Internet connection in regions without DSL for 11 years now. But sometimes there is also talk of "4G". Smartphones also show "4G" in the top line, others "LTE" or "LTE +". Is that the same now? Our guide explains!

4G equals LTE?

On that question there is basically two answers. One for everyday life and you as the user, as well as a technical one.

User: For you as a user, it can be summarized in a nutshell that LTE and 4G mean the same thing. Specifically, the fourth generation of cellular technology (hence 4G), which is also abbreviated to "LTE". LTE in turn stands for "Long Term Evolution". The standard ensures significantly higher data transfer rates compared to its predecessors UMTS / HSDPA (max. 42 Mbit). Today's 4G data networks theoretically support speeds of 300-500 Mbit. In practice, however, even under ideal conditions, transmission rates of 50-200 Mbit are more realistic - among other things, since all users in the vicinity have to share a radio cell and its capacity. More about it here.

Technology: From a purely technical point of view, however, there is a small difference! According to the official standardization criteria, the first LTE generation in this country was not yet a “real 4G”. Correctly it should have been called 3.9xG. Only with the introduction of LTE-Advanced (from CAT6) do experts really speak of 4G. On the other hand, 4.5G (LTE-Advanced Pro) is a preliminary stage to the LTE successor 5G, which has been expanded in Germany since mid-2019. The reason why the two were linguistically mixed was purely in the marketing of the mobile phone providers. Because 4G was much easier to market than, for example, “3.95G”. A similar development was also evident in the development towards 5G. Even when mobile communications technology was not even standardized, some hardware manufacturers and network operators around the world advertised "5G" - but what they meant was a kind of "Pre 5G". That was of course a similar nonsense as it was back then with the LTE introduction.

This is also a cause that has sometimes led to confusion internationally. A few years ago in the USA there was talk of “LTE”, which did not necessarily mean 4G. It could also be a fast 3G tariff. Only the combination of “LTE / 4G” addressed what we understand by it today. Here are two advertising posters from 2013 in California.

Symbols on the smartphone: 4G, 4G +, LTE, LTE + or what now?

Confusion is sometimes caused by the inconsistent nomenclature of smartphones and surface developers. Depending on the operating system and model, there may be differences in the display of the cellular standard currently being used. The abbreviations “4G” and “LTE” basically denote the same connection, i.e. at least with LTE according to Category 3 below. If, on the other hand, the smartphone switches to LTE-Advanced (from CAT6), this is marked with a "+" (4G + or LTE +) or with "LTE-Adv".

Helping apps and speed test

If you want to know more, we recommend two apps. Here you can find out more about the exact signal strength (reception quality), the network provider (for example, if you use a discount tariff such as Aldi) or the ID of the cell phone. We consider the app “Network Signal Info” and “LTE Discovery” to be recommended. It is also interesting to test every now and then how fast the internet connection is currently on site. You can use our LTE / 4G speed test for this.

To ask?

Then take a look at our forum. :-)

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