It’s True. Older Mobile Phones Were/Are Better

You often hear people say, semi-joking, that their old non-smartphone was better for making phone calls than their new four-times-the-price ‘smart’ phone. Turns out they are right.


UK-based communications regulator Ofcom has recently released some interesting information.

The previous generation of 2G mobile phones, or cell phones (as they call them in the US), actually were (are) better for making and ‘holding’ a phone call than the latest 3G smartphones.

As professor Sumner Miller might have said: “We ask ourselves, why is it so?”

Well it seems that there are two key reasons why it is so.

Larger Better-placed Antennas

The first and most important reason is that the antennas in 2G mobile phones, or feature phones (as they are now called), were larger and generally better placed—in that they had more free room around them.

The ongoing drive to make smartphones thinner and thinner is causing the antennas to be made smaller and smaller, and, in addition, they are being placed closer and closer to either interference causing or signal blocking components (such as the battery itself) within the phone assembly.

Allocated More Battery Power

Based on the assumption that all major cities in the world now have an overkill of mobile phone cell coverage mobile phone manufacturers are cutting back on the amount power assigned to driving the antenna.

Driving an antenna takes battery power and one of the biggest issues with smartphones is they amount of battery power they draw. Typically it is necessary to recharge a modern smartphone every 24 hours (once a day). Because of this smartphone manufacturers save and conserve power every where they can and one place to save power is how much is allocated to driving the antenna.

With the ‘old’ feature phones there was much less going on that took power from the battery. Certainly there was no 3.5” or 4” backlit LCD display to drive, no 3G data connection, and no layered touch-screen membrane to power. All of which consume huge amounts of battery power.

So feature phones were (are) able to assign more power to driving the antenna when required and still provide a battery life, on average, of around four days.

So the next time you hear someone remarking that they are sure that their old non-touch screen phone worked better as a phone they are not imagining it—it most likely did.