Hands down, anyone who has access to 3G would prefer to use that on any smartphone, Android or not. However, I keep running into situations where 3G is not available, and I have to fall back on 2G, that is GPRS or EDGE. I have already written about such experiences on a Windows Phone smartphone. Today, I was without 3G service and had to make do with 2G mobile internet on my Xperia P. How fast is 2G on an Android phone, and how was my experience with it?

How Fast Is 2G Internet?

Let’s look at the theoretical maximum speeds first. 2G encompasses three different technologies – GSM, GPRS, and EDGE. Here are the full names of those abbreviations and their theoretical maximum speeds:

  • GSM / 2G (Global System for Mobile Communications): 9.6Kbps
  • GPRS / 2.5G (General packet radio services): 35Kbps to 171kbps
  • EDGE / 2.75G (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution): 120Kbps to 384Kbps

I use the term “theoretical maximum speed” because in real life conditions, your internet connection will not achieve those speeds due to several factors, including: network congestion, natural obstructions, the limitations of your device, among others.

My Social Networking Experience with 2G on an Android phone

With the official Twitter app for Android, I got a lot of “Cannot retrieve activity at this time…” errors and very few tweets posted.

Social Networking on 2G Internet - how fast is 2G

My Experience With Instant Messaging with 2G on an Android phone

For the most part, chatting via WhatsApp worked well. Facebook Chat was a bit more epileptic. I have observed over time that WhatsApp handles poor internet better than Facebook Chat does, even over a 3G connection. Google Hangout didn’t seem to like EDGE much either, and it wouldn’t even load my online contacts.

My Experience using Email with 2G on an Android phone

Both my email accounts kept chugging along silently, receiving and sending mails without issues. It was much slower, of course. But email worked, slow as it was. If I was attending to hundreds of emails daily from customers, using 2G would be a bad idea. I would definitely need a 3G connection, at the very least.

My Experience Using Play Store with 2G on an Android phone

Here was where I ran onto the greatest problem. For the most part. I got a “No connection: Retry” error when attempting to open pages or menus in the Play Store. I never got to the page with the download link for any app. Play Store just didn’t seem to play well with anything but a fast internet connection.

In all, it was an experience that was less than pleasant. I kept wondering how we got by years ago, but then remembered that the smartphones of years gone by were not as advanced as what we have today. The mobile webpages of years gone by were also much leaner than today’s bloated pages. Those older mobiles were designed to function on lean resources in every way.

This is not an attempt to do a comprehensive review of 2G internet on Android. I just do wonder how those who live with only 2G coverage get by. Which is why I am going to ask: If you live with only 2G coverage, what has been your experience with using your Android smartphone like? Feel free to share too if you use any other type of smartphone or even non smartphones.

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By Mobility Daddy

Tech blogging since 2003, I have owned and reviewed hundreds of smartphones running EPOC, Symbian, Palm, PocketPC, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.

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