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CDMA vs GSM: Which one is Better and why should you care

If you have purchased a smartphones in the recent years you might have noticed that some of the devices say they support GSM and other support CDMA. These 2 different radio system technologies are currently used by the mayor cellular carriers around the world. While the US is mainly a CDMA country, lets take a closer look at the technology, the difference and why you should care.

The Technology: The difference between CDMA vs GSM

cdma vs gsm

CDMA stands for Code Division Multiple Access, invented in the 1940’s it was originally designed to control torpedo’s during the second world war. The technology is currently patented by Qualcomm and is being used by Sprint, Verizon and GTE.

GSM stands for Global System for Mobiles and doesn’t have such an interesting history as CDMA. This technology is mainly used in in Europe and Asia while CDMA is more used in the US. There are currently more then 450,000,000 subscribers and the network supports international roaming.

Advantages and Disadvantages of using CDMA and GSM

  • Pros CDMA is an incredibly secure communication channel that lets you carry out several conversations at the same time, it also consumers much less power then GSM and is much more efficient then GSM.
  • Pros GSM  is more used then CDMA and supports international roaming. One of the mayor advantages is because it is used so much, a stable network has been established giving users almost always great coverage and little issues. Another advantage is that it is much easier to swap phones since user information is stored on the SIM card
  • Cons CDMA There is only one real disadvantage, the lack of support for international roaming.
  • Cons GSM Since the US is ruled by CDMA, users can have issues when it comes to accessibility.

Which carriers are CDMA and which carriers are GSM?

We have previously mentioned it briefly, but currently in the US Verizon, Virgin Mobile and Sprint are CDMA while T-mobile and AT&T are GSM. It is interesting to note that GSM technology is overall more used because it became an European standard as of 1987, this means that companies started adopting it at a faster rate making the equipment used to keep everything running cheaper.

Which should i buy? GSM vs CDMA?

If you live in the United States it might be better for you to go for CDMA instead of GSM, like mentioned previously, there is a lack of GSM support in the US. However, if you live outside the United States (specially if you live in Europe) it might be best for you to get a GSM smartphone.