The Difference Between 2G and 3G Networks

Updated March 23, 2017

Current 2G and 3G networks are both used for cellular communications. While 2G networks focus primarily on voice communications, text messaging and simple web browsing, 3G devices offer near-broadband speeds for web browsing and multimedia integration.


The significant difference between 2G and 3G networks is the faster data speeds offered by 3G. For voice use and text messaging, the differences between a 2G and 3G phone are minimal.


Although 2G phones are less expensive, they cannot offer fast web browsing and file transfers in the way a 3G phone can. The 3G standard allows data, pictures and videos to be uploaded and downloaded quickly.


Not all areas have 3G networks available. In the event that a 3G network is not available, 3G phones will connect to whatever network is available, even if it is a slower 2G network.


A 3G phone can be identified by looking at its screen. Next to the signal strength, look for a 3G or EV logo. Either one indicates you are on a 3G network.


Both 2G and 3G networks allow for easy use of mobile data services. While 3G speeds are faster, both options provide mobile Internet connections wherever there is a cellular signal.

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About the Author

Michael Ryan is a freelance writer with professional experiences in the auto industry and academic training in music. Ryan earned a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Olivet College. Since college, he has been a featured speaker at music conferences at the University of Michigan and Bowling Green State University. Ryan is a published writer, with work featured on websites including eHow and