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The mean effective gain is an attractive performance measure of mobile handsets, since it incorporates both directional and polarization properties of the handset and environment. In this work the mean effective gain is computed from measured spherical radiation patterns of five different mobile handsets, both in free space and including a human head & shoulder phantom. Different models of the environment allow a comparison of the mean effective gain obtained for realistic models based on measurements with the total radiated power and the total isotropic sensitivity. All the comparisons are based on the mean effective gain values obtained for different orientations of the handsets in the environments. For practical measurements it is important to minimize the measurement time. The paper includes a study of the variation in mean effective gain when the number of samples in the spherical radiation pattern is reduced. Furthermore, the frequency dependence of the mean effective gain is investigated, and a method is proposed for reducing the required number of measurements on different frequencies.