How to Use Your Android's Mobile Data Network - dummies

How to Use Your Android’s Mobile Data Network

By Dan Gookin

All Android phones and LTE tablets use the mobile-data network to connect to the Internet. For this service, you pay a handsome fee every month. (Phone users pay a second fee for the telephone service.) The fee grants your Android wireless Internet access anywhere the signal is available.

Several types of mobile-data network service are available:

4G LTE: The fourth generation of wide-area data networks is the fastest and most popular network. Some providers may refer to this type of network as HSPA.

3G: The third-generation mobile-data network is available in locations that don’t offer 4G LTE service or where the signal is unavailable.

1X: The original mobile-data network had no name but is now called 1X. This service might be available when the two faster services have been obliterated by some moron with a backhoe.

Your phone or LTE tablet always uses the best network available. So, when the 4G LTE network is within reach, it’s used for Internet communications. Otherwise, the 3G network is chosen, and then 1X networking in an act of last-ditch desperation.

  • Your phone or LTE tablet shows a special icon that indicates the currently connected mobile-data network type.
  • The H+ status icon represents the HSPA mobile-data network, which is equivalent to 4G LTE.
  • The Signal Strength icon represents the mobile-data network connection, though on some phones it refers only to the telephone service.
  • You can still place calls on an Android phone when the mobile-data network is unavailable.

When both a mobile-data network and Wi-Fi are available, your Android uses Wi-Fi for all Internet access. To avoid data surcharges, connect to and use a Wi-Fi network wherever possible.

  • Non-LTE Android tablets use only the Wi-Fi connection for Internet access.

Your mobile-data network subscription has its limits — usually, a certain quantity of data you can use monthly for a flat fee. When you exceed that quantity, the costs can become prohibitive.