There is no doubting the popularity and success of the Samsung Galaxy range of phones.  Since its launch earlier this year it has been selling well across the world, and with new variations to the same theme it continues to grow as a device range with great options for consumers.  Today, Vodafone have announced they are selling the almost identical twin phone – and it offers one key advantage – speed.

The term Cat4 means very little to most people, and that’s the biggest problem for the telcos – so many new terms and technologies that it’s simply getting harder and harder to understand what is what and compare “apples to apples”.

In simple terms though, Cat4 is a faster version of 4G than we’ve been using today.  It is only available when both the device and the network support it.

As it stands, Vodafone has a Cat4 network in all the capital cities, while Telstra has Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide covered – Missing Sydney and Melbourne really does miss a large part of the population unfortunately.

The Cat4 version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 is identical to look at and to use as the plain old 4G S4 we’ve known.  However, when you need 4G speed – you really get 4G speed.

Vodafone 4G Cat 4 Network speed test on a Samsung Galaxy S4

Vodafone 4G Cat 4 Network speed test on a Samsung Galaxy S4

I conducted a range of tests of the S4 (Cat4) over the last two weeks on the Vodafone network – the speeds were in all areas the same if not better than the standard Galaxy S4, with around a 20% increase in speeds the majority of the time.  At its peak I obtained a speed of 127Mbps downloads – this was using the Speedtest app and connecting to the Internode server.

Whether anyone needs these kinds of speeds right now is yet to be made clear, but in the battle for 4G supremacy Telstra certainly have the widest national coverage but you cannot doubt that Vodafone has the fastest speeds.  Vodafone’s smart use and allocation of spectrum (the airwaves the telcos lease from the Government) to create the best possible 4G network across the capital cities would have Telstra execs in a muck-lather.  It could be months if not years before Telstra can obtain the right amount of spectrum to get a suitable Cat4 4G network across the country – until then Vodafone will continue to show as the fastest in side by side tests.

Crucially too, I don’t conduct my tests in the Sydney CBD.  Millions of people live well outside the CBD, so I’ve been travelling the north shore and out west to Blacktown and Mt Druit to conduct tests and in fact the speeds I see are far better in the west than anywhere else.

Having conducted tests previously on a Cat4 tablet device, there is no doubt about the “bump” in speeds you will get with these devices, I’m just not sure yet why you’d need it or how you’d notice it in your day-to-day usage!