A week with 4G

One of the gripes I’ve always had with internet access on my phone is how slow 3G can be at times. I write a fair chunk of my blog posts while I’m on my way to and from work, as well as answering emails and there’s nothing more frustrating than the connection timing out before a post is saved or a time-sensitive message sent.

I was therefore very happy to hear from giffgaff recently, offering me the opportunity to give 4G a go. To do so, they sent me a Sony Xperia Z3 and a £12 4G goodybag – comprising 1GB of data as well as 500 minutes and unlimited texts – and I’ve been using them for the last week.

Two smartphones loading the same webpage. One has loaded almost completely and the other is lagging behind.
In my side-by-side test, 4G soundly beat 3G for speed

Now, obviously, 4G is superior to its predecessor, but how much so? According to recent Ofcom research, it significantly outperforms 3G with a dramatic difference between the upload and download speeds it can achieve.

This is all very well in theory, of course, but what about in practice? I tried several side-by-side tests with my existing phone with 3G and the Sony Xperia Z3 on 4G and, every time, the latter was much faster.

This was despite a slightly unfair advantage against it as my 3G connection actually seemed stronger in the small town we live in. So despite a connection that, on the face of it, was weaker, it soundly beat 3G.

4G really comes into its own with video, so I’ve been using it to continue indoctrinating Dylan and Xander into liking decent music. We’ve watched loads of Maxïmo Park and Kaiser Chiefs without any buffering issues, so I’m happy. I can now use my phone to use catch-up services for my favourite TV shows too and this just wasn’t an option on 3G.

A smartphone playing a music video
Any excuse to make the kids watch Maxïmo Park videos…

Getting started with giffgaff required a little more effort than I expected, but it was straightforward and the instructions and video tutorials for ensuring the correct settings were in place were very easy to follow and I soon had everything set up.

The pay off for the small amount of extra set-up time is the fact that it’s almost £20 cheaper than what I’m currently paying for my 3G contract every month. The other useful thing to know is that giffgaff uses the O2 network so, wherever O2 has good coverage, so does giffgaff.

In summary, the connection is stronger and faster and costs a third of what I’m paying for an inferior service – it doesn’t take a genius to work out what I’m going to do when my contract with my current provider comes to an end.

A week with 4G has persuaded me to stick with it permanently and I’m happy to recommend it.

Disclosure: giffgaff provided me with a Sony Xperia Z3 and £12 4G goodybag to use and keep.


  1. Morna

    Interesting- I live in edinburgh and at home my 3G is faster than our broadband!! I can only imagine how amazing 4G would be!

  2. John Roberts (Dadyougeek)

    Blimey I have been on 4G for a while now and get unbelievably frustrated with 3G…. How have you coped for so long! Luckily I get 10GB of data with my monthly contract so can always tether my laptop should I be away and have rubbish internet etc!

  3. Iris Tilley

    Gives me an interesting thought as i never dreamt i’d ever use 4g So maybe its time i did

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