O2 & 4G
07/10/13 11:23 Filed in: Industry
O2 4G - What’s it like?
One of the advantages of jumping up to an iPhone 5S on an O2 carrier is gaining access to their 4G service - this isn’t compatible with the 5/previous handsets unfortunately. Also, bear in mind that if you’ll also need a 4G compatible SIM Card so you may need to get another one - you can pick them up for free from any O2 store, and then use Swap My Sim to change over your number to the new SIM.
O2 has a setup assistant - you can use that to see what you need to gain access to their 4G service. It’ll let you know if you need a new SIM or whether your handset is compatible.
Took about 5 minutes on mine however I understand it can sometimes take a while. Bear in mind that if you’re mid-contract you’ll just be adding 4G access to your existing contract - a fiver a month I think.
Now, something else to be aware of - if you’ve changed your SIM you can’t change your tariff until at least 24 hours later. If you try and immediately enable 4G it’ll fail with a ‘Oops, something went wrong’ non-informative message. Annoying. Wait 24 hours though and it’ll go through just fine.
So, what’s the performance like? Well, being in relatively Central London I’d expect a reasonable service....and this is what I get on my 5S handset:
Not too shabby at all really! This compares to usually around 4Mbps on 3G. Does it make a difference...? Well, growing on the phone - not so noticeable. It’s always been pretty fast on 3G anyway doing general stuff, so it’s not so obvious.
I’m a big user of tethering however - and this is where 4G seems to come in to its own. Firstly, I tend to tether my iPad mini to my phone when I”m out and about. That works well but can stutter a bit over 3G. On 4G however the performance is pretty solid - this is over WiFi tethering from an iPad mini to my 5S:
So again very solid performance with only minor degradation due to the pairing. I have to say this is where 4G starts to come in to its own - it’s brilliantly quick on the iPad and it makes the browsing as fast and as usable as any WiFi type connection.
Same goes for when tethering to my laptop - again another common usage scenario for me. 3G works, but can struggle now and again to keep up - on 4G however:
It has changed the way I use my laptop I’ve noticed - I’ve started using it like it’s connected to my normal services. Lync Voice/Video, Skype etc. - I’m placing far more demand on the connection than I would have previously. It’s made it far more useful when mobile.
The flip side to that of course though is the data consumption when mobile. I’m quite a big remote data user - my contract has 4Gb/month in it and I often get close to using it - so it will be interesting to see what my consumption will be on the 4G network. I reckon it’s going to go up, and substantially too. I’ll keep any eye on that and come back to you...But if I’m not careful, that’s going to hurt.
I guess on that front there’s a value issue isn’t there - am I really getting more value out of the higher speed? I don’t mind paying an extra tenner a month per Gb of mobile data as long as I think I’m getting real productive use out of it - but that’s the killer question isn’t it?
We shall wait and see...
Actually, it’s worth looking at the general 4G contracts by the way. Current tariffs are below and I don’t think they’re too shabby? Bear in mind of course that they don’t include the phone piece. If you don’t buy your phones SIM free, then you’ll be paying more on top of the figures below.
Also of course you don’t necessarily have to have an iPhone 5S to access O2’s 4G service. Other phones are available - or so I’ve heard. In fact you should be able to see a list of compatible handsets here.