We recently posted an article about choosing a smartphone in these confusing times but, in doing so, failed to address the issue of 4G LTE devices. This was not because we feel that 4G doesn’t deserve a discussion, but rather because we’re so used to 4G being limited solely to Telstra’s network and we don’t like expressly promoting one carrier over the rest. However, just to make choosing a smartphone at this juncture a little more difficult, we should mention that we’ve been hearing a lot of rumours that Telstra’s 4G monopoly in our fair country is about to come to a close.
Currently in Australia 4G LTE is pretty hard to come by. As it stands for standard mobile phone plans, 4G LTE is only available on the Telstra 4G network. It is true that Optus recently launched its own 4G network (July 31st) for select business customers in both Sydney and Perth, but those plans are very restricted and should be considered as part of an initial testing phase.
That being said, there are more than a few rumours circulating that strongly suggest Optus may be aiming for an early September consumer 4G mobile phone plan launch. These rumours are currently unconfirmed.
We’ve also been hearing talk of Vodafone joining the 4G race, but probably not until sometime around February next year.
If you’re not entirely sure what the big deal with 4G LTE is we suggest you head on over to our helpful guide section where we answer the question: why would I need 4G?
So what is an aspiring 4G device owner to do? Well right now there are two options: either go with Telstra immediately or wait it out and see what Optus has to offer, if anything, in a couple of months.
All in all we’d suggest waiting just a little while. If Optus is truly aiming for an early September 4G plan release then you’ll only be waiting around a month for confirmation. That’s not to say that anything will come of it and even if Optus does announce a consumer 4G network on the very first day of September there is no guarantee that said network will have any smartphones on it from day one.
Using Telstra as an example in Australia and both Verizon and AT&T as examples for the 4G rollout in the US, mobile providers tend to start by offering 4G LTE modems, both portable and stationary, for the first month or two before moving on to fully-fledged 4G smartphones.
Of course Optus has a very strong incentive to open strongly that none of the aforementioned 3 providers had: the impending release of the New iPhone (aka iPhone 5). It seems all but confirmed that the New iPhone will sport the new superfast 4G wireless broadband tech, both in the US and globally. If true, Optus will definitely want to establish itself as a 4G smartphone vendor as quickly as possible.
With the New iPhone/iPhone 5 slated for a mid-September release, Optus won’t have too much time between an early September 4G launch and the eventual hoards of iPhone fans beating down their doors come sales time when Apple finally makes its newest toy available to the public.
Unfortunately we have no idea what devices, if any, Optus will be offering when and if it opens its 4G network to the public.
In any case, we’ve compiled a short list of 4G LTE smartphones to consider should you be in the market.
4G Smartphones in Australia (both now and potentially upcoming)
- HTC One XL: Available now on Telstra and is, in our opinion, currently the best 4G smartphone in Australia. Be aware that, unlike the quad-core HTC One X, the 4G capable HTC One XL only has a dual-core 1.5GHz processor. This is because the quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 CPU chipset of the original non-4G One X is incompatible with 4G LTE technology.
- iPhone 5/New iPhone: Likely coming in mid-to-late September. 4G LTE reports are as yet unconfirmed, but it’s a good bet that this device will support 4G networks.
- Samsung Galaxy S3 4G: We haven’t even heard anything about a smartphone like this coming out, but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will eventually make an appearance. Just when that will be is anybody’s guess. The good news is that when the Galaxy S3 is eventually released in 4G form it should still be a quad-core device, as the Exynos processor of the S3 is compatible with LTE technology, unlike the Tegra 3 chip of the HTC One X.
- HTC Titan 4G: Available now on Telstra and the only real option for a 4G LTE Windows Phone handset in Australia. However, as we mentioned earlier no Windows Phone 7 devices will see the Windows Phone 8 update that is hopefully coming in the latter part of this year. We love Windows Phone, but if you’re going to go for this option you should know that you’ll not be making the jump to WP8 with the Titan 4G.
That’s it for now. We’ll try to keep you updated with more juicy 4G news as it comes out, but until then this is the best advice we have to give. In the meantime we hope that this has at least been somewhat informative and that some of your 4G concerns have been laid to rest.