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Mobile data transfer: Speed vs. ease of use

Posted: 11 Aug 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:data transfer? Wi-Fi? USB? 3G?

There are a number of ways to transfer content onto your cellphone. The most common method for years has always been by using a USB cable and connecting the phone to a computer. Over the past few years, and more recently over the past year, wireless networks have created alternatives to the USB connection approach. While these methods are more convenient, the benefits do not outweigh the drawbacks.

The concept for this article is to look at download speeds across three different interfaces, USB, Wi-Fi and 3G, to compare and contrast the speed and ease of use. The testing was done across three different cellphones in the industrythe Apple iPhone 3G and the Research In Motion BlackBerry Bold on the AT&T network and the Research In Motion BlackBerry Storm operating on Verizon. These phones were chosen, first because they are all able to utilize a 3G network which offers the greatest amount of flexibility in terms of ease of use, and their popularity on their respective networks.

USB
The first type of test to look at is across a USB connection. All three of the phones under investigation have gone through this type of testing already, so I will draw on those articles for this purpose. It has been noted previously that the Bold takes advantage of the Cypress WestBridge Controller to allow for faster download speeds than either the iPhone or Storm.

To download content using a USB connection, a cable must be physically connected from the phone to the computer. There are a few different types of phone connections, although recently the most common are MiniUSB (Bold) and MicroUSB (Storm), as well as the proprietary Apple 30 pin connector (iPhone). This requires that the user have access to the particular cable that is needed, which reduces the portability of the interface. Take an example of going to a friend's house and wanting to download a copy of a song or a presentation file. You would have to have the necessary cable on hand to be able to do this which adds to what you have to carry.

As well, USB connections require you to be within a certain range of a computer, typically a foot or two depending on the length of the cable. This means that you will not be able to move your phone too far without severing the connection.

Finally, many phones enter a standby mode when they are connected to a computer through USB. The Bold and Storm are exceptions attributed to the Cypress chip mentioned which allows it to both transfer content and operate simultaneously, but the iPhone and Storm are not able to operate as a phone or allow access to the phone's features when they are downloading content to the phone.

With all of these disadvantages there are, however, some advantages. First, the amount of time it takes to transfer a file is considerably faster than wireless alternatives that will be looked at later. This means that, while it can be a hassle to connect the phone to the computer, it will take less time to get the content that you desire onto your phone and then disconnect it.

Second, connecting the phone through a USB cable also charges the phone. So while you are transferring content from the computer to the phone you are also recharging the battery so that you can enjoy the content when completed.

Finally, USB is designed to operate in a plug and play scheme. This means that it does not require any set up on the device or the PC. The phone simply has to be connected to the computer and the files can be transferred making it simple for anyone to perform the task.


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