Have you heard or seen GSM and CDMA abbreviations on your phones or elsewhere? If yes, I know you must have thought of many things concerning the two terms, some of which are true. However, do you know there are many other details you may not be aware of regarding GSM and CDMA phones? GSM and CDMA are among the most popular networking standards that phone manufacturers must adopt in their production. CDMA technology is way old compared to GSM technology and is familiar to specific phones. On the other hand, GSM is the foundation of advanced cellular networks, igniting the growth of 4G and 5G phone manufacturing.
In this article, we will give the difference between GSM and CDMA phones and tell you which technology phones are better. Now let us kickstart by knowing what CDMA and GSM phones are.
What Is A CDMA Phone?
To answer what a CDMA phone is, let us first look at what CDMA technology is. CDMA is an abbreviation for Code Division Multiple Access, defined as a digital radio system supporting a mobile phone network. This network is responsible for giving all CDMA phones accessibility to the network spectrum. As a result, it allows many users to connect to the carrier’s network simultaneously.
In the past, CDMA phones did not use SIM cards but were linked directly to the network provider of that specific phone using the phone ID in the phone’s hardware. However, recently this has changed because many providers operating CDMA use SIM cards to support LTE coverage (Verizon). Therefore, a CDMA phone is a phone that does not use a CDMA network previously characterized by a lack of SIM cards.
What Is A GSM Phone?
GSM is an abbreviation of Global System Mobile communication that breaks signal transmission into separate time slots for every device. The primary reason for creating GSM technology was to help advance wireless communication. GSM phones are characterized by SIM cards allowing users to access their specific carrier’s network towers (T-Mobile and AT&T). You can use another unlocked GSM phone with a SIM card, which is impossible with CDMA phones. This allows you to switch your phone number and personal information to any unlocked GSM phone. We can conclude that any GSM phone phones are phones that will enable you to use a SIM card to access the network from your provider.
Lists Of CDMA And GSM Phones
Are you a US resident and wondering which phones are CDMA or GSM enabled? Worry no more. Most phones manufactured nowadays are compatible with GSM and CDMA technology. If you have an older phone, most likely, the phone has been restricted to either CDMA or GSM, depending on where you bought it. For example, if you purchased your phone from AT&T or T-Mobile, it is a GSM phone. Other GSM carriers include Broadpoint, DTC Wireless, Indigo Wireless, etc. Likewise, if you bought your phone from Verizon or Sprint, it is a CDMA phone. Also, we have US Cellular and Cricket running on the CDMA network, which translates to their phones being CDMA.
You can use the compatibility checker on your provider’s website to know if your phone is GSM or CDMA. Most of many Nokia, Samsung, and Apple iPhone brands support GSM technology. For example, Unlocked Nokia 225 4G, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Samsung Galaxy S9, among others. If your carrier supports CDMA technology, you can get some phones from popular brands like iPhone, Samsung, and Nokia, among others.
The Evolution Of Mobile Communication Technologies
What is 4G?
GSM technology is known to be the backbone of the generation of cellular networks. Since its introduction in the market, cellular networks have been advancing, 4G being one of the advancements. So, 4G is the fourth broadband generation of cellular network technology, which evolved from the third generation, 3G.
Kindly note that 4G and LTE are not the same type of network. However, in most cases, the LTE network is advertised as 4G LTE though they are not the same. 4G network has internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps, which are better than its predecessor, 3G, which was 10Mbps.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of cellular networks, fully rolled out in 2020 in the United States. After its introduction, some carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile have rolled out 5G operations in some cities across the country. 5G has better internet speed when compared to the 4G network. It is believed that the 5G infrastructure will likely retire the 3G network operation in the country. 5G supports the operation of the Internet of Things which is evident through driverless cars, medical robots, etc.
What Are The Advantages Of 4G
You are going to enjoy the following benefits if you are connected to a 4G network;
- Fast browsing, download speeds than 3G due to high internet speeds of 100 Mbps
- Smooth video streaming compared to when connected to 3G.
- There is no network congestion for users connected to 4G.
- It works best in real-time, which is good for you if you like online games.
- It provides high voice quality compared to 3G
Differences Between GSM And CDMA Phones
We have discussed GSM and CDMA phones and which carriers you can use with each phone, besides phone brands that you can use with both technologies. Are you able to tell the difference between these two types of phones? Here are some critical differences between GSM and CDMA phones;
- GSM phones basically use SIM cards to identify the phone in the carrier’s network. On the other hand, a CDMA phone identifies itself to the carrier’s network using information stored in the internal memory.
- GSM phones use TDM and FDM technology to identify multiple callers as opposed to CDMA phones that use CDM technology.
- All GSM phones receive network from network towers, whereas CDMA carrier has a physical channel and a dedicated code for a specific phone in a network.
- There is a simultaneous transmission of voice and data in GSM phones, while CDMA phones do not.
- There is high accessibility of a GSM worldwide hence high usage of GSM phones, while CDMA phones are not highly accessible worldwide because of their low acceptability.
- GSM phone experience slower data transmission rates because GSM technology uses GPRS, which usually has a low data bandwidth. On the other hand, CDMA phone users experience faster data transmission because CDMA uses EVDO, which provides a higher data bandwidth.
Those are key differences between GSM and CDMA phones that are noticeable. Now lets us look at what these differences mean.
What Does The CDMA/GSM Difference Mean?
There is high coverage of 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G is being rolled out across the country by almost all main carriers. This is slowly making GSM and CDMA technologies irrelevant. As a result, the difference between CDMA and GSM is becoming less important, and soon it will be irrelevant. We are saying so because LTE phones must have SIM cards to operate, and nowadays, some CDMA phones support SIM card usage. This means these phones can accept GSM networks in places with no CDMA network. Other CDMA phones in the market can use the eSIM, making know-how of whether your phone is GSM or CDMA irrelevant.
Which Is Better? GSM or CDMA phone?
With the evolvement of 4G, LTE, and 5G networks, you can technically conclude that neither GSM nor CDMA phone is better than the other. The reason why it is hard to determine which phone is better is because of the following reasons;
- Both phones provide the same services. In most cases, the quality and coverage of your area determine how better your phone will perform and not the cellular standard used by the phone.
- Nowadays, some phones support both GSM and CDMA technology. This means you can buy a phone that serves both purposes, making it irrelevant to buy a specific phone.
- Modern network standards like 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G are supported by both GSM and CDMA phones.
- With the introduction of 5G and 6G, there is a likelihood that most carriers will leave GSM and CDMA technology standards and adopt the new standards.
So, if you want to buy a phone, you can look for modern series that has the ability to support both network standards. Besides, it will benefit you if you move to an area where one network, GSM or CDMA, is weak.
The Future Of CDMA vs. GSM
Many network carriers are slowly adopting 4G, 4G LTE, and 5G network technologies in the United States. Actually, some carriers have phased off some network infrastructures like 2G and 3G and are commissioning to modern infrastructures like 4G and 5G. This is because of many benefits coming with these higher generation’s standards like HD voice calls and fast speed internet.
The fast adoption of these new network technologies like 5G puts CDMA and GSM’s future in limbo. CDMA and GSM have been providing service to millions of customers in the United States and the world. However, you can be sure that these technologies will be phased off to pave the way for more powerful and faster network standards.
Should I Use CDMA or GSM?
As seen above, the network standard of your phone does not matter, but the network quality of your carrier does. CDMA and GSM provide similar services, so make your selection on which is available in your locality.
How Do I Know If My SIM Card Is GSM or CDMA?
The only way of knowing if your phone is GSM or CDMA is by looking at the phone model number. If your phone has MEID or an ESN number as the model number, it is CDMA. However, if the model number is IMEI, it is a GSM phone.
What Happens If You Put A CDMA SIM In A GSM Phone?
CDMA SIM only works in CDMA networks. So, if you put the CDMA SIM on a GSM phone, it will not work.
Can A Phone Be Both GSM And CDMA Unlocked?
With old phone versions, it is impossible to have a phone unlocked for GSM and CDMA networks. However, nowadays, some phones support both CDMA and GSM technology.
Can I Switch A Phone From CDMA To GSM?
No, you cannot switch because the two use incompatible technologies. GSM uses a SIM card to connect to the carrier’s network, while CDMA uses a phone’s hardware ID.
Can I Put Any SIM Card Into A GSM Unlocked Phone?
You can use a SIM card on any unlocked GSM phone before the 4G LTE network. However, after 4G was introduced, we have CDMA phones that have the ability to use SIM cards.