Cell Phone Buyers Guide

cell phone shopping

A cell phone buyer's guide is great for an overview to get you started on finding your ideal plan, phone, and features.

Cell Phone Buyer's Guide Overview

There is a lot to think about when you begin to shop for a new cell phone, especially if you've never had one before. Even if you're a seasoned cell phone user, perhaps something is changing in your life. Maybe you're moving or going on a trip abroad. If your credit score has improved recently, you may be able to trade in your prepaid phone for a contract. A cell phone buyer's guide can help.

Here are some things you'll have to consider when you're buying a phone:

  • The style you prefer
  • The technology you need
  • Which cell phone service providers work best in your area and also cover all the areas where you frequently travel
  • How many minutes do you need per month, and if you're sharing a plan
  • Whether you want to sign a contract

Phone Style

The type of phone you get will tie into the things you want to do with it. If you text or email a lot, you'll probably want a full QWERTY keyboard rather than an alphanumeric one just to increase your speed and cut down on typos. If you just want to be able to dial your friends and family and you want your phone to be on the smaller side, it won't matter so much.

If you tend to be rough on your phones, you may want to look into the ones with a rugged design. Some have rubber around the edges to diminish the impact a drop has on the phone.

If you tend to dial numbers while your phone is in your pocket or purse, you may want to go for a flip style just so the keys will not be exposed. Some slider phone options may work for you, too, as they can often be set to automatically lock when not in use (or open).

The Technology

If you travel the world, make sure that your phone works with a GSM rather than CDMA network. GSM networks are found more frequently across the globe. This can be a very important consideration as part of a cell phone buyer's guide.

The Provider

The best way to choose your provider is to look at maps of their coverage. Check to see if the areas you frequently visit are on their coverage map. From there, when it's time to buy, you can see which providers offer the best price for the number of minutes and features you need.

The Plan

Minutes and Features

To determine how many minutes you'll need on your cell phone plan, first decide if the plan will just be for you or if you will have several phones attached. Then decide how many hours are available to talk on the cell phone during the day (you probably won't use it much while you're at work or school).

Remember, many plans offer nights and weekends free, with nights starting at 7:00 or 9:00 PM. Consider how many of those hours you are likely to use. Another factor to consider is the number of people you will frequently be calling who will be using the same cell phone service provider you do. In many cases, you'll find that you can talk to them for free, anyway.

If you're teetering between two plans, consult with your salesperson to determine whether it's easier to shift to a plan with more or fewer minutes once you've signed the contract. In many cases, it will be easier to shift up. Be sure to check your minutes balance throughout the month so that you don't have overage charges.

Features you may be interested in include data packages, Internet access, text messaging, the ability to download ringtones, music and movies, instant messaging, and more.

Prepaid Versus Contract

In some cases, this decision is made for you. No cell phone buyer's guide can provide a definitive solution, because it depends on your specific situation.

If your credit isn't so great or you have no credit history, you may want to avoid paying a deposit involved with a contract and just buy your minutes as you go. If you tend to talk a lot and want a lot of the features involved with cell phones like Internet use, email, and more, you'll probably do best in the long run by signing a contract. They are often cheaper per minute than prepaid plans and more features are available.

However, if you just want a phone to use in case of an emergency or you plan to use a land line for most of your communication, you may be best served by an inexpensive prepaid service with a few hours' worth of minutes and no bells or whistles.

A Final Word

Choosing the right phone and plan for your lifestyle may take a bit of experimenting and tweaking over time, but with a cell phone buyer's guide, you can make the path to your perfect match a little less frustrating.

Cell Phone Buyers Guide