Originally Posted by OldFrog75
Southern California Coastal Cruising. I consider high speed to be fast enough to stream videos, internet websites, skype, etc. without buffering. My cell phone carrier calls that 4G.
I have tethered/hotspot with my cell phone (which works) but the data plans are limited = no matter what data plan you sign up for they limit the amount of high speed hotspot tethering and then kick down to 2G speeds (buffered) after that. Problem is, 1GB of data provided is only about 1 hour of high speed tethering with my service (Sprint).
I thought an unlimited cell plan would be a great solution but apparently cell phone carriers (mine at least) are hip to the fact that unlimited high speed data is worth more than what they charge for their various data plans. Even the "unlimited data" plan is limited to only 3GB of high speed streaming/month, which works out to about 3-4 hours.
I've recently done some research
in this area and although I'm technically savvy, I was surprised at a few things I didn't know.
What started it all was Nettalk connect's unlimited talk and text plus 10GB of 4G data for $25/mo. plan. This is an intro plan for 7 mos., then it kicks up to $40/mo. That's still cheaper than my current
plan with Straight talk for $45/mo for 5GB of 4G with AT&T.
What's nice about Straight talk is they use 3 carriers, you get to choose who you want between Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T.
The Nettalk plan is on T-mobile and includes 10GB/mo. with a 20GB signing bonus and you can roll over up to 20GB per mo. for up to a yr. So I started with 30GB the first mo. and all of the streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, Iheartradio, etc. do NOT count against your data usage. That was the big deal that caught my eye, since streaming Netflix can burn up data really fast.
The part that I found out the hard way is that 4G LTe is not transmitted the same for all cell carriers, or from country to country, or even within the same carrier, depending on location. I started with a Samsung Note 2, GT-N7100 which is an unlocked international phone. I took that to mean it works in the US and overseas. What it really means is it will work ok for HSPA+ in the US, it will work on some LTe bands in some foreign countries, but it will NOT work on T-mobile.
So I bought the Note 2 GT-N7105, also an international phone. It will get LTe as advertised, but only AT&T LTe, since it only receives the frequency bands allocated to AT&T.
I dug deeper into it, and there are over 40 "bands" used to transmit 4G LTe worldwide, and no phone does them all. Iphones do cover a lot of them, Samsung makes a wide variety of each model to do the same, like an N910T, N910W, N910V, N910U, etc.
I ended up buying
a Note 4 SM-N910T which was designed for T-mobile and happened to be unlocked for AT&T. So far, I've seen D/L speeds up to 65Mb/s and U/L speeds of about 15 Mb/s. I've also seen as low as 3Mb/s, but it was still streaming Netfilx with no buffering.
T-mobile uses Bands 2, 4 and is rapidly expanding band 12 in a lot of areas. Band 12 is relatively new (Q3 of 2015) and thus why all of my previous phones weren't getting LTe service.
Here's a website that lays out who uses which bands of the LTe spectrum.
Cheat sheet: which 4G LTE bands do AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint use in the USA?
Here's a website that shows full specs and allows side by side comparisons of 3 phones, but only GSM phones, not CDMA (Verizon and Sprint.)
Compare phones - GSMArena.com
I chose Samsung because I love their features and battery
life. However, there is a whole new crop of cheap
smartphones in the 5.2-5.5" range and they are very impressive for $200 and less. Blu has a few (Vivo XL, Vivo 5, Life One X) and Huawei has the Honor 5x, all of which have a pretty comprehensive list of radio
bands they receive, making them more future proof than older phones made before 2016. These phones may be inexpensive, but they come with great cameras, Gorilla glass, dual SIM card slots, up to 128GB microSD card slots and very good screens, they look and feel like $500-600 phones. I don't really need it, but I'm VERY tempted to buy an Honor 5x just for a backup phone, just to have one...