What are LTE Phones?

Jeffrey L. Callicott

Long Term Evolution (LTE) is the designation for a wireless communication standard that was introduced in 2010 and featured data speeds far faster than previous technologies. LTE phones are simply cellular phones incorporating the hardware necessary to utilize LTE networks. There are other LTE devices, such as universal serial bus (USB) modems and tablet computers, that also can take advantage of LTE networks.

Many LTE phones have both front- and rear-facing cameras for capturing still pictures and video.
Many LTE phones have both front- and rear-facing cameras for capturing still pictures and video.

LTE is commonly publicized as being a Fourth Generation (4G) wireless technology. This not necessarily true, because there are actually two variants of LTE: Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) LTE, and LTE-Advanced. As of early 2011, most people talking about LTE phones tended to be referring to 3GPP LTE — the only variant available on the market at that time — and not LTE-Advanced.

LTE phones are some of the most powerful phones of their generation.
LTE phones are some of the most powerful phones of their generation.

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Although 3GPP LTE can deliver information much quicker than older standards, it is not a 4G data protocol. It does not satisfy the standards for 4G cellular wireless networks as defined by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). LTE-Advanced is a backward-compatible successor that builds upon the advances of 3GPP LTE, and it meets the ITU 4G standard. Thus, it is a true 4G data technology.

An LTE phone can utilize LTE networks.
An LTE phone can utilize LTE networks.

The high data rates promised by LTE mean that nearly all LTE phones are smartphones. In addition to calls, they prove useful for a wide variety of applications. Utilizing the latest data technology at the time of their release, these phones are some of the most powerful phones of their generation, more resembling handheld computers than cellular phones.

Some LTE phones can transfer content to televisions.
Some LTE phones can transfer content to televisions.

After the availability of LTE was announced, many of the largest phone manufacturers rushed to provide information about their LTE phones. These devices typically feature a plethora of ways of interacting with the device. Nearly all LTE phones are built with color touchscreen displays of very high resolution. Many of these phones have both front- and rear-facing cameras for capturing still pictures and video. Additionally, many come with high definition connectivity options in order to hook up and transfer content on televisions and computers.

In contrast with previous smartphones, some LTE phones come equipped with dual-core processors. These chips enable the phones to run software more quickly or operate older programs while using less battery power than previous-generation devices would have. Among the types of software available for these phones are games, web browsers and limited content creation. One of the most desired applications, however, is video calling, considering the vast data speeds that LTE can deliver.

Videos may be streamed and downloaded more quickly with a 4G connection than with older types of connections, such as 3G.
Videos may be streamed and downloaded more quickly with a 4G connection than with older types of connections, such as 3G.

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Discussion Comments


@JessiC – I commend you on your stance of the constant cell phone interaction movement; unfortunately for me, I am totally addicted. I can text faster than I can type.

An LTE is just a new advancement that will likely be outdone by an even newer, faster, more convenient way of connecting before too long. Then the price will go down. If I were you, I would wait until then to get my new hook up.

However, me being who I am, plan to get one as soon as humanly and financially possible.


I am totally one of those people that are not really big on getting tracked down all of the time via cell phone. So, if you ever come down south and see that one little lady without a phone attached to her ear or hands, you will know it’s me. I think I am the only one in a hundred mile area, at least.

I don’t care one bit about getting on the internet from my phone. I have a computer for that, and it is with me almost all of the time.

So, for a lady like myself who has not yet caught on to the phenomenon of constant phone attachment, is there any reason that I should get one of these expensive LTE models. My phone company seems to think that I should, but I’m not yet convinced.

I'm actually thinking of downgrading to a prepaid cell phone. That's how little I use my plan now!


@stl156 - I think I'm going to get an LTE phone at my next contract renewal with my cell phone company. They sound really amazing. Unfortunately I'm not due for my upgrade for about another year. Although hopefully then the prices will have dropped a little bit!


@kentuckycat - I believe most of the e-readers that are currently on the market offer either wi-fi or 3G connectivity. It sounds like yours is probably a 3G model, maybe a Nook or a Kindle.

With advances in technology maybe someone will come out with an LTE e-reader but I kind of doubt it. It seems like most of the new e-ereaders, such as the new Nook and the most recent Kobo have decided to offer wireless only.

In my opinion the next place LTE will show up is the tablet market, probably in the iPad first.


@jcraig - That is a very good question. I hadn't even heard of WiMAX until recently. My understanding is that WiMAX works much like a wireless router. A service provider can simply broadcast a signal over a certain area. I believe it works using towers rather than satellites.

If WiMAX truly has the same signal strength as WIFI, I would have to say it wins in the LTE vs. WIMAX battle. I'm sure LTE will make more advancements in the coming years, though.

Maybe someone else can shed more light on the subject, but I'm not sure where WiMAX can be found at the moment. I live in a fairly large city, and I've heard no mention of it being available. It does sound like a great idea, though.


Is anyone here familiar with how LTE and WiMAX are different? This article helped me understand more about LTE and 4G, but I've heard talk about WiMAX lately.

From what I know, the service can be used to connect cell phones and computers to the internet, but I'm still lost as to how. Is this even correct?


When the article mentions tablet computers that can use LTE wireless technology, does this include e-readers?

I recently bought an e-reader that is able to connect to the internet from anywhere with a signal. It is not WIFI, though. My connect is very strong, and I can download new books in a matter of minutes.

Maybe the day will come when this technology advances to the point where it can be used with a desktop computer. The fewer wires the better, right?


It's amazing how quickly cell phone technology can advance. I recently switched to a carrier that offers LTE technology, and the difference is amazing.

I remember the 2G technology of a few years ago. It was still impressive that we could access the internet so quickly on a phone, but compared to current advancements, there is no contest. What will they come up with next?

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