If you want an all-singing, all-dancing mobile, the 3G network delivers more multimedia features than the older GSM network, and with providers such as Optus, Telstra, 3 and Vodafone on board, competition for your dollar is fierce. The range of models is also improving, with one third of the models in the table compatible with 3G networks. All phones that support 3G are also compatible with local GSM mobile networks. Currently, however, the full functionality of 3G (such as video calls and access to premium content) is available only in capital cities and coastal regions with large concentrations of people.
In the past, mobile phone owners living in remote areas often opted for CDMA phones because of their wider coverage compared to GSM phones. Now, however, with the impending closure of Telstra's CDMA network, Next G could be the only choice for many mobile users in remote areas of Australia.
Telstra’s Next G network, not to be confused with its 3G service, operates on a different network frequency and offers the widest coverage, servicing 98% of the population, including much of the network coverage previously serviced by CDMA.
Although models are being added to the range on a regular basis, your choice of models with be restricted compared to the models available on the 3G and GSM networks. Of the 33 mobiles covered in in Choice's latest mobile roundup, only one (Nokia 6120 Classic) works on the Next G network. However our Smartphone story, where we look at 13 models which are focussed on multimedia and mobile office features, four models support Next G.
All the phones in the table work on the Australian digital GSM networks from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. As GSM is also widely used overseas, chances are you can use your mobile when travelling. You can do this in various ways. If you use your normal network provider, for example, it’s called roaming, and you’ll need to check which countries your provider has roaming agreements with, and what the call charges are. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a new SIM card for the country you’re visiting when you arrive.