3) Sharing Your LTE Connection via Mobile Hotspot
I've been using mobile hotspot features on a number of smartphones for a couple years, but I never realized the true value of mobile hotspots until I got an LTE phone. My LTE mobile hotspot is as fast as or faster than the Wi-Fi in my home office. Because I live in an area with widespread LTE coverage, I got Wi-Fi-like speeds in most of the areas I visit in an average day. That means I can bring my laptop and my LTE device and actually work without any interruption or frustration over slow data.
In the past, when I used an HSPA+ device with mobile hotspot to work on the road, posting blog entries and uploading images and video, I'd often have to stop due to insufficient coverage or data speed. Just last week while traveling by train from New York to Boston, the Amtrak Wi-Fi, which was spotty to begin with, got so slow that it was practically useless. I turned on my LTE mobile hotspot and I forgot all about slow Internet connections.
But again, mobile hotspot functionality is an add-on to your data plan, so you'll pay more for the convenience. And you'll also likely use more data when connected to a hotspot, and possibly paying more for data overages.
4) Videoconferencing over LTE
Mobile videoconferencing isn't new; Skype has offered mobile videoconference functionality for years and Apple brought it to the masses of iPhone users with FaceTime.
But LTE makes smartphone videoconferencing actually work. And work well. If you've ever tried to use a videoconferencing client over an HSPA+ or slower network, you know the experience is rarely a smooth one. Either video quality is poor and audio is delayed or video is choppy. Videoconferencing gets old quickly when your network isn't fast enough to offer a seamless audio and video experience.
LTE speeds are fast enough for videoconferencing to work the way it's supposed to. Personally, I don't really use videoconferencing that often, but I can say that experience is much more enjoyable when two people with LTE phones and solid coverage connect than when one or both parties is on a slow wireless network.
Bottom line: If you live in an area where LTE is spotty or nonexistent, you shouldn't rush to upgrade to a compatible device and wireless service plan. But if you live in an urban area like Boston where LTE is alive and well and you want to do more with your smartphone, the future is now.