What Wireless Terms Mean

No Contract Smartphones – Common Terms

We have included a quick primer of what some of the tech speak of no contract smartphones actually mean in real words.

3G – Also known as 3rd Generation is a popular standard for mobile phones and devices. 3G devices and technologies are designed to meet a industry agreed upon amount of specifications that are able to offer downloads to up to approximately 8 Mbit/s and uploads of around 300 to 600 kbit/s.

CDMA – A cellular phone standard commonly used in the United States. Unlike its competing standard (GSM) cannot be generally used outside of the United States and must be activated by the carrier using the serial number or ESN of the device. Generally, since most mobile carriers keep track of the ESNs and devices they are connected with, they may refuse to activate phones not originally intended for their network. Most US Carriers continue to use CDMA while outside of the US, GSM is the most common.


GSM – The worlds most popular standard outside of the United States. Each device is associated with a Sim card which can be removed and reattached by the user. This card carries the information needed by your service provider in order to identify your device on their wireless network. Sim Cards can be exchangeable among devices and therefore, some have been able to use devices on networks in which they are not offered. Take note that the device much also use the correct frequency offered by the wireless provider and the device must be “unlocked”.

LTE – Sometimes referred to as Long Term Evolution is a 4G technology based on the GSM/EDGE. Incompatible with 2G and 3G networks, but can be used in addition too (specifically as a temporary or permanent downgrade. Able to offer download speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s and uploads of 75 Mbit/s dependent on the equipment used.


Processor – The processor or CPU is the “brain” of the device. It does all the internal calculations for every action taken on the phone. For this reason, the faster in which a processor operates, the faster it can process requested tasks. Devices can no carry 2, 3 and sometimes 4 processors. With each addition comes more capability and more speed when combined with the memory the device has available. Processor speed is given in MHz (Megahertz).


Super AMOLED Plus
Super AMOLED Plus is a Samsung branded technology meant to describe a smartphone display which is considered to be thinner, brighter and more efficient than other smartphone displays currently on the market. Super AMOLED Plus displays are said to be extremely sharp and extra clear, even in direct sunlight.


Unlocked Mobile Phones – Many carriers activate software on mobile devices in order to “lock” a phone to their network. This is done to ensure that someone will not purchase a phone on one network and use it on another one, causing the original network to lose business. This is a technique done on GSM phones and can be reversed by Unlocking phones. In theory, one can unlock a mobile device, take it to a competing carrier that uses the same bandwidth range and purchase a new Sim card to obtain service on the new network. Although many providers frown on this, some will offer the service for a fee (once freed from any contracts and not subject to any additional fees). Unlocked phones have become a popular market among internet and ebay users and if used correctly, can be way to save money.



WiFi– Many devices offer the ability to use WiFi for service. WiFi is achieved by connecting to internet connected networks either at home or on the go. The devices must be configured in order to connect and the network must be open in order to receive the connection (either by password or simply by being free and open). WiFi can offer speeds greater then 3G depending on type of network and traffic. 802.11g has a theoretical max at 54 Mbit/s and 802.11g can potentially reach speeds of up to 600 Mbit/s. In most cases, WiFi usage does not come out of billable minutes or bandwidth and is therefore considered to be more desirable than using your home cellular network.