The UK saw its first, belated, 4G network appear for use late last year thanks to EE, which managed to wangle approval from regulator Ofcom to launch an LTE service before the other main providers.
But now Vodafone and O2 have launched their new high-speed 4G networks, or, to put it another way, your mobile may soon give you quicker uploads, downloads and ping responses than your home broadband thanks to these new mobile networks.
The downside is that you’re probably going to need a new phone to use this super-super-fast data connection, as many older mobiles don’t have the necessary radios inside them to hook into the frequencies used by 4G systems.
Luckily for you, though, the mobile networks are falling over themselves to stock new 4G-ready phones and updated versions of popular current models, with some of the best handsets from the top makers supporting our new LTE bands.
And we’ve done the hard work for you, so sit back, relax and check out the best 4G phones compared.
The iPhone 5S isn’t as tricky as the iPhone 5 because, along with the iPhone 5C, it supports the most 4G bands of any smartphone currently on the market. This means it will happily play with any 4G network here in the UK.
It’s not all plain sailing though, as O2 still needs to do some work to its 4G service before the iPhone 5S will work on its superfast network, although we’re told this will be sorted “soon”.
Meanwhile over at Vodafone and EE all is well with the 5S, and Three tell us Apple’s latest flagship will also play nicely with its 4G when it’s launched in December.
As for the phone itself, the iPhone 5S isn’t an enormous update over the previous models, but Apple has managed to squeeze a faster A7 processor inside the chassis, along with an updated camera module and a nifty fingerprint scanner hidden under the home button.
This is HTC’s best phone yet, and that’s saying something. The HTC One is 4G-ready from the offset, so can be bought on any of the networks peddling the super fast connection.
The HTC One earned rave reviews for its metallic chassis, superb low-light camera performance and the general smoothness of HTC’s updated user interface, with the new HTC Sense social features also going down a storm.
This phone and a 4G data connection would make most people very, very jealous indeed.
Samsung Galaxy S4
This year’s Galaxy S series update was not without controversy. Its launch event was a bizarre music hall experience that some said was rather sexist, the phone’s full of so much bloatware and additional Samsung software it’s been complained about on TV, but none of these whinges have stopped the Galaxy S4 shipping in record numbers and making it the most popular Android phone around today.
It’s not just good marketing either, the Galaxy S4 is an excellent handset in its own right and while it may be trumped by the HTC One it’s still worth a look.
The only model sold in the UK comes with a 4G-friendly radio inside it, so once you’ve got it, you’ve got the 4G power on EE, Vodafone and O2.
Nokia Lumia 925
Nokia’s latest Windows Phone 8 model isn’t to be sniffed at just because it’s not running iOS or Android, it’s a decent handset with some great features and a premium build which goes hand in hand with the premium price you’ll pay for 4G.
It’s main attraction, and you may have spotted it in the TV adverts, is its 8.7MP camera which Nokia boasts produces the best low light pictures around – and we’re inclined to agree.
The Windows Phone interface is slick and provides something very different from the Apple and Google offerings, plus support for all the key UK 4G bands means the Lumia 925 is future-proofed connectivity wise.
If you want something a little more avant garde, BlackBerry’s new Z10 is also an early member of the UK’s 4G phone club.
The first phone to run the company’s new BB10 mobile OS, the Z10’s software is a little quirky in places, but the powerful, feature-packed web browser and 4G connectivity makes it a decent contender for those after something fast and a little different.
Plus, with a relatively modest 4.2-inch display, it’s one of the more pocketable modern smartphones and less of a slab than other big name models. Don’t ignore it just because it’s BlackBerry.
The camera is the obvious winner here. While 41MP seems like overkill for a smartphone, it does have its benefits. Images are sharper at larger sizes, and the 5MP photos are crisper than you’d normally find on any other 5MP or even 8MP smartphone camera.
To top it off, battery life is pretty good on the Lumia 1020, so that should give you confidence when leaving home without a charger or battery pack.
You can pick the Lumia 1020 up from O2, Three, EE and Vodafone, with 4G supported on all networks which offer the superfast connection.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
If all these fancy smartphones are just too big for your dainty little hands then fear not, for 4G also comes in smaller packages and one of those is the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.
Borrowing the styling from its big brother the S4 Mini comes in at a cheaper price point but still packs a decent punch for a mid-range mobile.
A bright screen and capable camera make the S4 Mini an attractive proposition and its broad 4G prowess means its available from EE, O2 and Vodafone.
If you want traditional QWERTY BlackBerry hardware to accompany your futuristic 4G data speeds, there’s only one choice (well actually there’s two now thanks to the BlackBerry Q5) — the Q10.
The phone looks like your usual old BB with its chunky keyboard and landscape display above, but comes with the updated BB10 OS for adding a bit more style to proceedings.
The phone also includes NFC support, for transferring mobile data rather more slowly over distances of a couple of centimetres, should that ever really become a thing people want to do. Oh and it’ll work on EE, O2 and Vodafone – phew.
Like the 5S, the iPhone 5C provides the widest range of 4G band support out of any phone, so you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues – that is unless you’re on O2.
Grab the iPhone 5C on Vodafone and EE and you’ll be enjoying 4G from the word go, but O2 is yet to get its 4G house in order for the new iPhones, lumping customers with a 3G connection for now – but a fix is “coming soon“.
The iPhone 5C is a bit of an odd handset. It’s plastic body, yet slick operation should see it compete with the likes of the One Mini and Galaxy S4 Mini, but it’s premium price tag means it prices itself closer to the big brothers – both of which have more features. It does come in some bright colours though.
HTC One Mini
Another “mini” 4G handset to break into the ranks is the HTC One Mini, arriving on EE and O2 – but currently shunned by Vodafone.
Would we recommend the One Mini? Absolutely. We love the aluminium shell, the UltraPixel camera and BoomSound speakers.
You also get to play with the latest version of Android as well as all the cool apps like the Music Player, which show lyrics to songs as they‘re playing.