Comparing CDMA And GSM Mobile Phones: Which is the Best Choice?

By Jay Shah | Cell Phones

Mobile phones today, run on one of two major telecom standards: GSM and CDMA. While choosing a carrier, you have to know whether you are going for CDMA or GSM, because each has its own unique features, advantages and drawbacks. A random decision may adversely affect your user experience.

So, let’s try to find out which among GSM and CDMA is the best choice.

CDMA or Code Division Multiple Access is the dominant network standard in the US since it was developed by Qualcomm. GSM or Global System for Mobile was developed way back in 1987 by the GSM Association and has greater international acceptance than CDMA.

CDMA Vs. GSM Phones

In terms of coverage comparison, CDMA is easily outdone by GSM. CDMA is currently supported in the US and parts of Asia while GSM is available almost all throughout the world. However, in smaller cities, towns and rural areas in the US, CDMA networks are stronger.

With a quad band mobile phone (850-1900 MHz) you can travel almost anywhere in the world and yet be connected via GSM. With CDMA that is not the case and so if you travel a lot, internationally, there is no doubt that you should get a GSM phone.


As far as data access is concerned, CDMA scores with technologies likes EVDO making data transfer at speeds up to 2mbps a possibility. GSM used EDGE as a dedicated data transfer technology till very recently, but now HSDPA is in the horizon which should match up to EVDO.

The standard procedure followed by CDMA carriers is to program the user account information in the phone itself. So, a change of phone has to be done via the carrier, which will reprogram the same information in the new phone. GSM carriers provide removable SIM cards which can be shifted between phones, so you are more in control of how you use your number. However, a new removable User Identity Module cards are now available on some CDMA phones.

CDMA phones are generally known to consume more battery than GSM phones because their operations are more complex.

So, your choice of opting for CDMA or GSM cell phones should ultimately be decided by what you need. Simply put, unless you are a frequent flier, CDMA is as good as GSM as an option. The best Verizon Wireless phones such as the Motorola Droid X and the BlackBerry bold are CDMA devices, while AT&T offers amazing GSM phones such as the iPhone and the Samsung Captivate. So, take your pick!

About the Author

Jay simply loves any tech that can make life easier, better, faster and more enjoyable. And with hundreds if not thousands of Gadgets, Apps, Games being launched everyday, there's more than enough out there to keep this hardcore techie occupied and obsessed!