Around the world there are 41 different bands of Spectrum being used for LTE 4G, there are currently 22 bands in use for 3G.
Apple released three different versions of the iPhone 5, each being equipped to utilise different sets of these frequency bands to try and cater for as many different spectrum bands around the world as possible. Included in two of the three iPhone 5 models is the ability to use the 1800MHz band. This was great news for EE as this is the band that their 4G network will run on when it is launched on 30 October.
However, in the Summer of 2013 we should see the other main operators in the UK launch their 4G networks. These networks will be launched after the operators have successfully bid on spectrum in the upcoming Ofcom auction. Here lies the issue. The spectrum bands up for grabs are the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands. Neither of which are supported on the iPhone 5.
The recently launched Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE version does in fact support not only the 1800MHz band that the EE 4G netwrok will be running on but also supports the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands for when the other operators launch their 4G networks.
In summary, if you are happy with a phone that will enable you to have 4G capabilities but only on one of the UK network operators, then the iPhone 5 will do just fine. But to future-proof your phone the Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE is certainly the better option.
Do you really want to spend all that money on an iPhone 5 and be stuck with one network operator, not being able to switch providers without losing 4G capability?
We’re not getting into the debate of iPhone 5 vs Samsung Galaxy SIII in terms of what is the better phone, they both have their advantages and disadvantages, but in terms of what is compatible for the UK 4G networks then the SIII LTE is the way to go.
There is one caveat with this. EE had to sell off part of its spectrum, a term that was placed on them during the T-Mobile/Orange merger. So, the UK network operator Three will own 2x15MHz of its 1800MHZ spectrum. If they chose to launch 4G services on this band then the iPhone 5 would of course be compatible with their network also, but so far Three has not announced any plans to do so.
In summary, the iPhone 5 will work on the EE 4G network, and any network Three launch on the 1800MHz spectrum band. It will not work on the 4G networks we will see next year from O2 and Vodafone. The Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE model will work on all of the UK 4G networks.