A new generation of hi-tech handsets will spearhead the launch of the new ‘4G’ network in the UK this year - with mobiles from Samsung, HTC and Nokia leading the charge.
Laptop dongles from Huawei will also be among the first to use the new hi-tech network, which offers downloads faster than most home broadband connections.
Everything Everywhere is to launch its ‘EE’ network ‘within weeks’ in the UK, and it is already testing in cities - offering wireless connections far faster than today’s 3G mobile networks.
Users will need to buy new phones to use the network, with a list of handsets already confirmed by the network (see below).
The new network could have a huge effect on how people work - offering office-type web connection speeds from anywhere in 16 cities by the end of the year.
Huawei will also offer dongles for laptops so mobile PC users can enjoy the same blazing speeds - five times faster than current 3G mobiles.
The network will cover 16 cities by the end of the year, and 70% of the UK in 2013 - spearheaded by Android handsets.
It’s not yet confirmed whether Apple’s new iPhone or upcoming products such as the rumoured iPad Mini will be compatible with the new network.
"With speeds up to five times faster, consumers will be able to enjoy more rapid downloads, better connectivity and a far superior web experience through their phones,’ says Ernest Doku of mobile site uSwitch.com.
"To give an idea of what this will mean, it will take around 3 seconds to download a 4 minute song, compared to 16 seconds using 3G. Downloading a 2 hour film will take 7.5 minutes compared to the current 37 minutes with 3G."
Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820
Nokia’s Windows handsets will offer 4G connections from launch, in glamorous handsets armed with Microsoft’s new Windows Phone operating system, which will allow users to share information easily with Windows 8 PCs.
A Carl Zeiss lens and Nokia’s proven track record in mobile phone cameras should make the Lumia 920 the go-to handset for serious phone photographers, with an 8.7 megapixel camera built to capture images even in low light, a traditional weakness for phone cameras.
The phone’s 1280-by-768 screen is 4.5 inches, and the handset comes armed with a 1.5GHz dual core processor. What’s less likely to appeal, though, is the fact that the Lumia 920 is a Windows phone. While critics have raved about the new tile-style Windows 8 operating system, the public has yet to buy into it, and sales have remained low.
Huawei Ascend P1/E589/E392
Huawei is a world leader in ‘dongles’ for laptops which offer mobile connections for portable PC users - and will offer USB sticks and other PC-friendly 4G kit from launch in the UK, allowing mobile workers to connect wherever they are. The Taiwanese phone maker will also offer its 4.3-inch Ascend P1 smartphone, a fast Android handset which shoots Full HD video.
Samsung Galaxy S3 4G
Samsung’s Galaxy S3 will be one of the first phones to offer 4G in the UK - with a special handset designed to work with the new EE network.
The S3 has become the go-to device for Apple refuseniks - with the highly publicised patent case between the two companies serving to highlight for many that Samsung’s Android handsets are really quite similar to iPhone.
The flagship S3 has become as cultish as its predecessor, the S2, which helped catapult Samsung’s smartphone sales ahead of Apple last year.
HTC One XL
Taiwanese phone maker HTC has seen its signature handsets lose out to hits from Samsung over the past two years, but will be among the first handset makers to offer 4G handsets in the UK, in the form of its One XL.
The 4.7-inch Android One XL is a fearsome handset, particularly for photo fans and gamers. The screen only shows 720p HD, rather than Full HD - but the Tegra 3 chip that powers the One X is built for gaming, and looks superb with titles such as Dead Trigger.