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What is the Difference Between Triband and Quadband?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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The prefix tri- means three and the prefix quad- means four. This means that quadband phones have one more band or frequency than triband phones do. How this affects cell phone service depends on the type of service that a person needs, since the more places an individual needs to be able to use his or her cell phone, the more frequencies he or she needs.

People who need service internationally or globally will need a greater number of frequencies than someone who only uses a phone close to home. In other words, between triband and quadband, the latter would be the better option for service that covers more area. For phones that are only going to be used locally or regionally, triband should be sufficient.

Service can be provided utilizing six different frequencies, ranging from 450 to 2100 megahertz, but the lowest and the highest are not typically used by triband or quadband phones. Most of these cell phones operate using a combination of 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz, with quadband using each of them.

The biggest difference between triband and quadband phones may be the location from which service originates. In Europe and Asia, for example, a cell phone service provider may equips its phones with the 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies to cover local use, but also add the 1900 frequency to allow for roaming. In North America, it may be basically the opposite: North American cell phone service providers generally use the 850 and 1900 MHz frequencies, and add 1800 for use outside the continent. Since the majority of cell phone users are not continent hopping on a regular basis and instead tend to use their cell phones closer to home, many new phones are triband.

It pays for a shopper to do some research to find out what type of cell phone and service package will best meet his or her needs. People who do travel regularly, especially outside the country, are likely to find definite differences between triband and quadband options. Quadband phones may offer not only greater versatility but also greater savings.

In the past, some users had to buy more than one phone and more than one service package, using one at home and one abroad. As entrepreneurs increase in numbers and may need to travel regularly, quadband phones may well be used more frequently. They can cover both personal and business needs without the need for an extra phone and service package.

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Discussion Comments
By Glasshouse — On Jul 27, 2010

@ Georgesplane- I would also like to add that you still have to have your CDMA carrier unlock your CDMA quad band phone if you want to use it as a world phone. This is a simple procedure, and only involves calling your service provider for an unlock code and directions. Once your phone is unlocked, you can insert a SIM card from any carrier.

By Georgesplane — On Jul 27, 2010

I would like to add an important bit of information. Quad band and tri band technology is only concerned with phones on a GSM network. CDMA networks do not use any of the four frequency bands mentioned in this article.

This means that neither a Verizon nor a Sprint phone will work in many countries outside of the United States unless the phone is a dual mode phone. You would have to buy a phone that is capable of using both a CDMA network and a GSM SIM card.

In fact, CDMA carriers are no longer developing their networks. CDMA will eventually be dropped in favor of LTE, which will likely become the 4G global standard.

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