GSM vs CDMA – Is There a Clear Winner

Every industry definitely has its eternal debate that never seems to end. Hey, can you blame people for being passionate? Of course not! However, when you’re new to the industry and all of these terms get thrown around, it can be hard to figure out which technology is actually going to be the best.

In the mobile technology field, the eternal battle is over two main technologies: GSM and CDMA. It’s a battle that has two very passionate sides. Some people will never own a CDMA phone if they can help it, while others love them to pieces. Which one is right for you? Let’s find out, shall we!

A few pieces of information to start us off: GSM stands for Global System for Mobile Communications, and CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access. GSM is the older technology that has a longer history, while CDMA is seen as the young upstart. However, you’ll find both types of networks in North America. Yet GSM rules the roost if you go overseas; just something to think about.

What a lot of people like about GSM is that they can retain their information on their SIM card and switch phones as they see fit. CDMA phones store everything on the phone. So when you upgrade, you’re going to have to hope that you can uplink your information to your computer and then replace it onto the phone. Sometimes that works, but often it doesn’t. This can lead to a lot of frustration — especially when you’ve paid for premium content like ringtones, games, and wallpapers. However, most carriers will allow you to send your ringtones to a new phone, as well as all of your games and wallpapers. It would be a bad day to have to pay for all of that content all over again — some people have spent literally thousands of dollars on ringtones over the years!

One area that both technologies focus on is definitely speed. On the GSM side you have EDGE, and on the CDMA side you have EVDO. GSM’s EDGE technology goes up to 340kbps in theory but only 140 kbps in practice. The speed you get will depend on a lot of different factors, including the distance from the towers that you’re currently standing at. If you’re in a rural area, then EDGE service will be harder to come by than if you are in the middle of a big city with a lot of easy EDGE coverage.

Yes, there is 3G coverage, but we don’t mention it much because it still needs to be expanded to other areas outside of major cities. We’re not saying that 3G isn’t powerful, but it’s something that can be on multiple platforms.

When it comes to figuring out which one is better, you have to think about what you actually value in your cell phone as well as your actual carrier. If you find that you want to switch phones a lot, you might want to go ahead and get a GSM phone, as this will let you switch phones a lot easier than if you stuck with CDMA. Of course, when you’re talking about smartphones, you actually have a lot more options because many of these phones allow you to upload your personal information to your computer. This way you don’t have to worry about losing a thing if you want to switch phones. However, we recommend still going with a GSM network to be on the safe side.

It might take you some time to figure out a balance that works for you, but this guide should help you out just fine!