CELL PHONE BASICS
Today's Cell Phones Do More Than Make Calls
If you've read our related article about choosing a cell phone plan and carrier, you'll know that the first step when choosing your cell phone is actually choosing a carrier and cell phone plan. Once that's out of the way, you're ready to choose your phone. You can usually get a good deal on cell phones through your service provider. They will often give you rebates on the pricier models, and may even give you the basic cell phone models for free. Your choices include very basic models which make phone calls and perhaps do text messaging, up to the more elaborate, and expensive, models which will take pictures and video clips. The choice of phones is up to you--depending on what you want from your phone--and your pocketbook. The two basic styles--"candy bar" and "flip phone," are available from all manufacturers. Read on for more information.
Cell Phone Manufacturers
The best-known cell phone manufacturers include Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Panasonic, and Toshiba. Here is information on the basic brands and their most popular models:
- Nokia is the world's largest manufacturer of cell phones. They offer four styles: flip, block (or candy bar), slide, and internet tablet. Available features on some styles include games, camera, video recorder, MP3 player, FM radio, web browser, and more. To buy a Nokia phone without a cell phone plan can cost you upwards of $500 or more, but there are deep discounts available when you sign up for a cell phone plan. For example, the Nokia 6030 would sell for about $100 alone, but with a cell phone plan and rebates, it could cost as little as $0. Well-known carriers who feature Nokia phones include T-Mobile, Cingular, Sprint, and Verizon.
- Motorola currently offers several of their models for as low as $29 after rebates and with a 2-year contract through Cingular Wireless, T-Mobile and Verizon. Several basic models of Motorola phones are free with rebates and contracts.
- Samsung is another well known brand. They also offer many models, and best prices come when you sign up and purchase through one of the cell phone carriers. You can get some models free with rebates and plans. Samsung is featured through Cingular, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.
- Sony Ericsson phones are also available through the major cell phone carriers. With rebates and a cell phone plan, you can get an expensive cell phone for nothing.
Cell Phone Features
No longer do cell phones simply make phone calls. There are a host of other features available on your cell phone, including:
Organizer applications: calculators, calendars and alarm clocks are available on most of the basic phones.
Text messaging and email
Camera and video recorder
Speakerphone and/or conference calling
Bluetooth, which has wireless capabilities
Multimedia options such as MP3 player, FM radio, streaming video & audio
Accessories & personalization options.
How to Choose the Phone that's Right For Me
Consider your personal needs when selecting your cell phone. Do you only want to make phone calls, and perhaps basic text messaging? Then a basic model will suit your needs. Comfort and ease of use should also be considered. Hold the phone in your hand and put it up to your ear to see how you like the feel of it. If you have bigger hands, you'll probably be more comfortable with a bigger keypad. Test out the keypad and how comfortable you are with dialing. Consider what features you'll enjoy having with your cell phone. The above section dealt with the features currently available. Decide which ones you'd like to have as you consider your choices. And if you plan on using your cell phone as your primary phone, you'll want one with a good battery life--more than three hours of talk time and five days of standby time is recommended.
There's a lot to consider when selecting your cell phone, cell phone plan and carrier. But if you do your homework by talking to friends and checking some online sources before signing up, you should find the phone, the plan and carrier best suited to your needs and your pocketbook. Being better informed will allow you to make better choices.