Cellular Antennas for 5G, 4G/LTE and 3G

The demand for wireless devices that are compact, efficient and connect over large distances has grown and will continue to in the near future. Cellular networks are largely responsible for this demand given their fast speeds, low latency and 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G cellular bands that each have their own characteristics for a range of IoT applications. Cellular antennas are the solution to providing a reliable connection, long-lasting battery life and long range connections to devices across industries.


What are cellular antennas?


countries have 5G networks available as of June 2021, via 169 mobile operators

60 %

the number of countries with 5G deployments increased by over 60% in 2020


Since the popularisation of mobile devices, the demand for cellular network access has been exponential across a wide range of IoT applications. The fast speeds, high bandwidths and large coverage of cellular networks make them a perfect choice for long range and remote devices as well as precise, real-time applications. Cellular antennas are designed to take advantage of the potential of cellular connections through the 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G bands. The applications of the devices that use these antennas can vary from smartphones and wearables to remote surgery and self-driving vehicles. Challenges of sacrificing battery life for speed and PCB space in these industries are prevalent. That said, the small ground plane size of cellular antennas has little impact on their performance and makes them the perfect solution to these hurdles.

Cellular antennas for small devices

A major challenge in many design processes is managing the limited space available on the PCB. This is particularly the case for small wireless devices that cannot afford to waste valuable space on antennas with moderate to large ground planes. Whether it’s a transponder chip or smartphone antenna, size can be just as important as or even more important than speed or latency when it comes to certain applications. The wide range of frequency bands used by cellular networks allows for small ground plane measurements without causing a significant impact to efficiency. This makes cellular antennas perfect for the small devices used for specialised IoT applications such as miniature chips and sensors. Their good performance and small PCB footprint allow them to be used in remote locations for prolonged periods of time whilst simultaneously saving space for other necessary electronics.

cellular-antenna-frequency-table Diagram showing efficiency of different ground plane lengths

What are the features of cellular antennas?

Compact, saving on PCB space
Can be used over vast distances
Easy to integrate

The compact nature of cellular antennas makes them a great choice for a range of devices. They save valuable PCB space without major sacrifice to efficiency, speed or latency, making them perfect for miniature wireless devices.

Because of their ground plane size and frequency bands, cellular antennas can be used over vast distances whilst still maintaining the same reliability in speed and latency. Through the use of fast networks such as LTE, GSM, CDMA, DCS and PCS, cellular networks can have fast speeds over extreme distances, which is especially the case for 5G connectivity.

The characteristics of 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G each benefit different applications and devices. 3G and 4G both offer the smallest ground planes whilst maintaining high efficiency and long range, making them perfect for medical chips and microdevices. On the other hand, 5G offers an extreme boost to speed (100 times faster than 4G) and significantly lower latency (1ms), whilst also boasting greater bandwidth. The flexibility of cellular antennas through being able to use multiple connections makes them easy to integrate into a wide range of applications and industries.

Cellular antenna applications

These benefits of size, efficiency, range and speed make cellular the choice of antenna for many IoT and industrial devices.

Long range

Their long range capabilities have seen widespread use in smart grids and intelligent transport systems. Devices that do not necessarily need superior data transfers like petrochemical plants and vending machines also benefit from the range that cellular antennas provide.

Fast speeds

IoT devices that require fast speeds at low latency can take advantage of 5G connectivity. Compared to 4G, 5G offers 1000 times larger bandwidth per unit area, up to 100 times faster speeds and extremely low latency at 1ms making it perfect for industrial applications that need automated and efficient production.

Compact size

Miniature technologies like chips and sensors also see many benefits from cellular antennas, especially those in remote applications like ventricular assist devices for medical patients. The compact and long lasting batteries of these products results in sustained service without maintenance or short-term complications.

What are the best cellular antennas?

Deciding on the right antenna for a cellular device is paramount to success in its respective application. Understanding the right frequency band, ground plane and speed for a device is necessary in finding the perfect choice of antenna.

Antenova offers a wide range of cellular antennas that provide the perfect properties for a multitude of IoT applications. We have cellular antennas that support 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G that are a future-proof choice for designs that will migrate to 5G in their lifetime. Antenova antennas have outstanding performance, efficiency and small ground planes to enable maximal flexibility in device design.


SMD antennas are directly mounted onto the surface of a PCB. These types of cellular antennas have the smallest ground planes and are perfect for compact IoT applications.

Our Pharaoh is an SMD cellular antenna that has the smallest ground plane (60-50mm) out of all our 4G models. It has a ready to fix design and boasts fantastic efficiency and performance for its compact size. Pharaoh is the perfect choice for a wide range of devices due to its ease of implementation, small ground plane, and excellent performance.


A flexible printed circuit board (PCB) antenna is thin and flat with an adhesive back. These cellular antennas are flexible and can be affixed to a device in a number of ways without using a ground plane, making them a versatile choice for specific applications.

Our Affini antenna is the perfect example of the versatility that FPC models provide. It is easy to integrate as the host PCB ground is not used and has high efficiency that covers most 4G and 5G bands.


Terminal (sometimes known as external) antennas are typically located outside of the device’s housing, offer greater efficiency levels and outperform embedded cellular antennas across most RF parameters.

Our Draco terminal antenna boasts very high performance and efficiency. Its ergonomic styling blends well with the exterior of a device and works efficiently in various ground planes and/or in free space. Our models SREL036-IPP and SREL036-xxP are also waterproof rated to IP67, making them a fantastic choice for a range of devices that require an external cellular antenna.


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