Choosing Your Handset
Cell phone selection tips
The reality of shopping for anything these days is the easy comparisons between brick and mortar stores and online retailers. You can always look around in stores and get a physical look at cell phones. Physical stores are no more than an online source. But for a cell phone where the network service contract is a necessary part of the sale, you might want to re-consider buying from anywhere but directly from the service contract provider.
First you've determined what networks you need for your area. Then you've fully investigated which provider can best serve your area with a reasonable plan. Part of this is deciding what networks you'll need, if you're going to need communications between city and rural areas or if you'll need your phone working while traveling abroad. Understanding all these choices will direct you to specific networks, then specific providers.
By picking the service plan before picking a phone you've narrowed your choices considerably, but you're also free to set the rules while picking the phone. It may seem limiting because you'll only have a handful of phones on your final list, but it's far better than letting the cell phone pick you. This is what happens when you see a commercial for the hottest cell phone you must have and then find out it's less than a suitable choice for your purposes. Choosing your service plan first makes you a powerful consumer able to pick the phone that plays by your rules rather than having to justify a substandard choice.
Even though the list has been narrowed down it's still going to be difficult because you'll find that cell phones will fit one of three general categories. Regardless of provider, cell phones come in three price ranges:
- Cheap low end phones: Typically less than $100, sometimes less than $20 or free with the right service contract. Don't expect a lot of extra features
- Mid priced phones with a few features
- High end Smartphones that have most features
Examine the difference between the three basic types by price range and try to decide which category you best fit. Zero in on the features you should look for in a phone - features that most people find the most useful once they've owned cell phone for awhile. Features like voice dialing and easy access to frequently dialed lists aren't the features you'll show off to your friends. Practical features aren't as sexy as multi-media capabilities, but they're going to be used a lot more frequently and should allow you to take them for granted.
Let's take a closer look at cell phones price range.