How To Choose Your Cell Phone
It's largely a matter of personal taste and budget; the latter depends on what promotions are being offered, which tend to fluctuate almost weekly. Size and battery life are the most important factors.
Your choice of phone depends on your choice of carrier. All carriers have their own mutually incompatible digital networks. This means that a Sprint PCS phone, for example, won't be compatible with VoiceStream Wireless or AT&T Wireless service.
Most cell phones look like smaller versions of your phone at home, with the addition of a screen and a few extra buttons. Flip phones fold in half and open to reveal the screen and keypad. Web sites offer phone ratings and reviews that can help you make your choice. You might also want to go into a store and see how a phone looks and feels.
Above all, make sure the phone you pick has the features you need, or think you might soon need. Dual mode phones are essential for anyone who travels between the city and the country, because they shift to analog coverage when digital isn't available.
To take advantage of special discounted phones (some are offered free), a customer may need to sign up for at least one-year's service.
If you desire certain features, ensure the phone is equipped. For example, hands-free microphone so you can talk and drive, memory dialing to pre-program numbers; radio mute will automatically turn down the volume when you make a call; auto answer will pick up the phone for you after two rings; voice mail, etc
What to Consider
The things you'll probably care most about are size, looks, ergonomics, robustness, screen size, Web features, and how long the battery lasts between charges.
- Transmission Technology
- Battery Type
- Talk Time
- Standby Time
- Hands Free Optio
- Internet Capability
- Phone Book Storage Capacity
PriceAnalog phones tend to be less expensive than digital phones. However, the rules of cell phone pricing are changing because cell phones are purchased mostly with an accompanying service plan. Through various licensing and marketing agreements, cellular service providers can often offer phones at a discounted price or even gratuitously to their customers when they order a phone activated with one of their plans. As cellular companies expand their digital service, digital phone prices will continue to drop, adding new options for the price-conscious wireless phone shopper.
- Low cost cell phones (< $100) : typically larger and heavier with minimal features, although they generally perform just as well as more expensive phones.
- Mid-priced cell phones ($100-$300) : smaller and lighter with extended-life batteries, alphanumeric text features and more.
- High-end cell phones (>$300): offer the latest features, the smallest designs and the most attractive styling.
Functions seem to be one of the most important thing to consider when people choose a cell phone. Besides calling and receiving calls, people are demanding more out of their mobile phones. To keep themselves amused while waiting for anything, they expect a phone to come with more computer games. For those who drive, phones that come with voice dialing and voice answering seem to be popular as they can keep their hands off the cell phone while driving but still be in touch.
Features to consider when selecting a cell phone:
- Screen size
- Included functions
- Special features
Are you looking for analog or digital? Do you prefer PCS or cellular? TDMA or CDMA? Look for dual mode/dual band phones if you travel a lot.
Look for fast recharging, long lasting batteries
Note both the talk time and standby time when comparing phones. Also, check to see how long the battery takes to recharge and whether a rapid charger is available. Most cell-phone batteries are removable, but some of the smaller models have a built-in battery instead.
All cell phones have LCD displays, but the specific features of the display can vary:
- Size - A large, multi-line display is typically more expensive, but it's necessary if you plan to use the phone for wireless Internet. * Color vs. monochrome - Most cell phones have monochrome displays (16 grays), but a there are a growing number that have color. Cell phones with color screens need more memory and tend to be more expensive.
- Reflective or backlit - Almost all cell phones have backlit screens, which are good for low-light conditions.
Most phone include basic functions such as phone directory, clock, calculator, automatic redial, last number recall and the ability to customize the ring tone of incoming calls. Most premium phones offer all of these features:
- Phone directory
- Personalized/custom sounds
- Appointment reminder/calendar
- Incoming-number storage
- Automatic redial
- Last-number recall
- Mute/hold button
- One-touch dialing/speed dialing
- Voice-activated functions
- Vibrate mode
- Call forwarding
- Multi-party calls
- Hands-free headset/speakerphone
- External volume/ringer control
- Car adapter
Additional features such as teh ones listed here can greatly affect the price of a phone. Make sure that youare not paying a premium for features that you never intend to use. Some cell phones have special features such as:
- Text messaging
- Wireless Internet
- Modem function
- PC synchronization
- MP3 player
- GPS receiver
When looking at phones with a headset or speakerphone connection, check to see if the plug is proprietary. If it is, then check the cost and availability of the headset or speakerphone. Also, all phones come with a charger, but not all of them come with a rapid charger.
Think about how you plan to use the phone. Will it mostly be a car phone? Or do you plan to carry it in a pocket all day long? This will help you determine if that cheaper phone with the same features that weighs 10 ounces is a better deal than the one that only weighs 5 ounces but costs twenty percent more.
If you are like most of us, price is always a consideration. Weigh the options carefully and make sure that you don't pay for features that you probably will never use. If you are not interested in wireless Internet, then you may not want to pay the extra bucks for a WAP-enabled phone.
Transmission TechnologyMobile phones can use three technologies: digital cellular, analog cellular, and PCS.
Phones are compatible with a specific transmission technology. Therefore, if you already know the plan you want to use, you must get a phone that works with the available technology.
- Analog Cellular: This is the oldest technology of the three, where signals are identical to those sent and received by an ordinary radio. The sound quality is generally inferior to digital cellular and PCS, and phone conversations using this technology are easily intercepted by electronic scanning devices. It does, however, have the greatest coverage, especially in rural areas.
- Digital Cellular: Software inside phones using digital cellular technology convert and reconstruct digitized messages for sending and listening. The sound quality as well as the privacy of your conversations is superior to analog cellular, and digital phones have extended data capability features including voice mail and caller ID. They are also lighter and have a longer battery life then analog phones.
- Digital PCS: Personal Communications Service (PCS) differs from traditional digital cellular service because it operates on the 1.9Ghz frequency band. This allows greater network capacity and data capability then a standard digital phone. The different PCS technologies include CDMA, TDMA, and GSM.
Options: Digital Cellular, Analog Cellular, Digital PCS
Battery TypeThere are three standard mobile phone batteries: nickel cadmium (NiCad), nickel metal hydride (NiMH), and lithium ion (Li-Ion).
- NiCad- This is an older technology and has some technical problems. Memory effect, also known as ledges, can reduce the capacity of the battery if it is charged repeatedly without being fully discharged. Also, the battery must be disposed of properly, because it is an environmental hazard.
- NiMH- A newer technology which does not suffer from memory effects like the NiCad battery. It also holds a charge longer then the NiCad.
- Li-Ion- A long lasting and light battery that does not suffer from memory effects. It is, however, more expensive then the other battery types.
Options: NiCad, NiMH, Li-Ion
Talk TimeWhen you choose a phone, you should consider how long it can last on standby (turned on, but not in use), and how much talk time you have before recharging. If the battery runs out, it simply turns off the mobile phone until you recharge it. Talk time is the amount of time a battery can power a phone when it is being used to make or receive calls. A longer talk time could save you a lot of time and frustration, but if you do not talk on your phone a lot, it could be unnecessary.
Range: 60 - 600 minutes
Standby TimeThe period of time a battery can power a phone when it is not being used.
Why is it important? A longer standby time could minimize the number of times you would have to recharge your phone per week, which could be usful if you travel a lot.
Range: 1.5 - 484 hours
Hands Free OptionMany mobile phones offer you the option of talking into them without actually having to hold the handset up to your ear. Some phones accomplish this by allowing you to plug an ear piece/microphone device into them while others easily install into a car kit that allows you to hear your party through your car's speakers while you speak into a microphone.
WeightThe weight of your mobile phone, measured in ounces.
Things to Consider: The weight of a mobile phone is a very important feature because most people carry their phones with them. If you do get a larger phone there are a number of accessories available that will aid you in carrying your phone.
Range: 2.7 - 13.9 oz
Internet CapabilityA number of high-end mobile phones are capable of basic Web browsing and email functions. Although it will pale in comparison to the surfing you can do on your computer, you can send and receive e-mails and get selected information from specific web sites.
Options: Email, Web Browsing, None
Phone Book Storage CapacityThe number of names and telephone numbers that can be stored in a mobile phone's directory.
Why is it important? A large phone book can serve as an organizer as well as a time saver; putting friends, family, and work contacts at the touch of a button. If you already own a PDA or a similar item, a large phone book may be unnecessary.
Range: 9 - 400 Names and Numbers
Design and form factorAs the teens become more affluent, carrying a mobile phone is not only for the adults. Teenagers are carrying mobile phones not only as a form of contact, but also using it as a form of enhancement for their appearance. Hence you can see them changing the casing of their phones to suit their personality and their clothing. From here we can see that when buying a mobile phone it is important to buy one of great appearance so that you will look good when you are using it. You will also not want to change your phone just because you don't like the design.
In conclusion, there are so many brands and types of cell phones on the market right now that it can be a bit confusing. If you do your research and shop around, I guarantee you'll find the perfect phone for all your needs!