The iPhone’s concept as an all-screen machine is a curse and a blessing. You may curse it when you’re trying to type text, wishing you had real keys. But when you’re online—oh, baby. That’s when the Web comes to life, looming larger and clearer than you’d think possible on a cellphone. That’s when you see real email, full-blown YouTube videos, hyper-clear Google maps, and all kinds of Internet goodness, right in your hand.
And it’s fast, too—as long as you’re in one of the cities covered by 4G LTE cellular towers, and the gods are smiling.
The iPhone can get onto the Internet using either of two kinds of wireless networks: cellular or WiFi. Which kind you’re on makes a huge difference to your iPhone experience.
Once you’ve accepted the miracle that a cellphone can transmit your voice wirelessly, it’s not much of a stretch to realize that it can also transmit your data. Cellphone carriers (Verizon, AT&T, and so on) maintain separate networks for voice and Internet data—and every year, they spend billions of dollars trying to make those Internet networks faster. Over the years, they’ve come up with data networks like these:
Old, slow cellular network. The earliest, slowest cellular Internet connections were called things like EDGE (AT&T) or 1xRTT (Verizon and Sprint). The good part is that these networks are almost everywhere, so your iPhone can get online almost anywhere you can make a phone call. You’ll know when you’re on one of these slow ...