What sorts of devices can use mobile networks?


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What sorts of devices can use mobile networks?

Catching up with friends on Facebook

What's coming up?

Most people will use a smartphone to connect to the mobile data network. There are, however, a few other kinds of devices that can also use this on-the-go internet connection.

This activity will explore some of those devices, and why you might want to use them to go online.

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The origin of mobile data

Original mobile phones were only capable of making and receiving voice calls plus some basic other features.

Over time, these basic handsets evolved to become the smartphones of today, and mobile data was developed to allow these devices to go online while out and about.

Staying connected whilst on a well-earned break
A modern smartphone is like a small computer that you can hold in your hand

The modern smartphone

Almost all new mobile phones today are smartphones. They have a big screen, can use little programs called apps (short for applications) that add extra features, and they rely on a mobile data, or internet, connection.

A smartphone can search the internet, play TV shows and movies, or download photos. It's an all-purpose internet device.

Other mobile data devices

Devices other than smartphones can connect to mobile data. A computer or tablet, for instance, may offer mobile data connectivity in addition to the normal Wi-Fi.

A couple use their tablet at an al fresco café
There will be a clearly marked sticker on the device or its packaging if it's able to connect to mobile internet

How do they work?

Mobile data connectivity on these devices will usually be shown as 4G , LTE, 5G or even Cellular, either in the model name, or on the box.

Like a mobile phone, you need to put a SIM card into a slot on the computer or tablet, and it will connect automatically to your mobile phone plan provider.

Mobile broadband

There's also a type of device sold as mobile broadband. It's a small gadget that takes in a mobile data signal but sends out Wi-Fi. A mobile broadband device lets regular Wi-Fi devices connect to mobile data.

Special gadgets known as mobile broadband devices can be used if there is no local Wi-Fi available
Walking and talking whilst out and about with a mobile device

Pros and cons of mobile broadband

Getting the internet from a mobile broadband device can be expensive, but there are a few handy benefits.

  • Wi-Fi devices can get the internet when the Wi-Fi is down or you don't know the Wi-Fi password
  • You can use Wi-Fi devices when you're on the go
  • Wi-Fi devices can take advantage of faster mobile data speeds.

Well done!

This is the end of the What sorts of devices can use mobile networks? activity. You've learned that most people access mobile data using a smartphone, and that other devices can also connect to mobile data, either directly or via a mobile broadband device.

Up next, in the Getting help with mobile networks, you'll learn where to go to get a mobile phone with data, and how to purchase a mobile data plan that's right for you.

Taking selfies with your friends is fun and easy to do with a mobile device