Chapter 12. Getting Online

Making actual phone calls with the iPhone is fading in importance. Today, Americans send texts five times more often than they make calls. Among teenagers, 92 percent never make calls with their smartphones.

What do they do with them, then? Go online—and use apps that go online.

The iPhone can get onto the internet using either of two kinds of wireless networks: cellular or Wi-Fi. Which kind you’re on makes a huge difference to your iPhone experience.

Cellular Networks

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 they spend billions of dollars trying to make those 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). You’ll know when you’re on one of these networks because your status bar bears a symbol like inline or inline. It’s slow. Dog slow—dial-up slow. You can’t be on a phone call while you’re online using EDGE or 1xRTT, either.

  • 3G cellular networks. 3G stands for “third ...

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