To buy a smartphone or not is the question of the day. With as many sales as there are days and as many phones as there are days, how can we navigate through this sea of troubles? Unfortunately, the answer is not easy these days. The phones are not on all the carriers. The carrier service is not strong in all parts of the U.S. The networks are different. Most challenging of all, you are stuck with either the phone of the service for 2 years, usually both. Before the iPhone, we only had a few choices…Windows Mobile, Blackberry, and Palm. Those of us early adopters who went through the heartache and the thousand natural shocks, we remember how “smart” was not so smart. For those who enjoyed the “extra” functionality received through tinkering, we also remember the days spent syncing handfuls of data by docking, linking, or tethering.
While advances have been made, many of them must give us pause. Before venturing out to battle others for the sale, answer these questions:
- What carrier do I prefer?
The details and differences are too plentiful to go through here. Besides, other great individuals have already engaged in this grunt and sweat under a weary life. Check out one of these sources on carriers and networks:
- CNET – http://reviews.cnet.com/2719-3504_7-389-1.html
- TopTen Reviews – http://cell-phone-providers-review.toptenreviews.com/
- Where do I want to use the phone?
The reviews at the sites above list the major and localized carriers. The cost of operating your phone as well as the phone itself will depend on where you would like to use your phone. If you travel, or if you take any type of vacation, stick with the main four. If you don’t the others have great prices and options. In fact, some of the smaller carriers like Cricket, Boost Mobile, and MetroPCS, actually partner with the bigger carriers and are expanding every day. In the Nashville area the major carriers and even Cricket offer some of the most compelling deals and service. Check with friends and family in your part of the city or your state for their service before making that final choice.
- What do you wish to do with your phone?
Consider the following when deciding on features:
- Text – Look at phones with a comfortable keyboard for you
- Browse the web – Look at phones with a larger screen and a usable browser
- Use Apps – Look at phones with an app store
- Make calls – Look at phones with good call quality
- Tether other devices – Look at phones and carriers that offer hotspots or bluetooth tethering
- Send Email – This is where the smartphone comes in…if you do not need this full functionality, consider a feature or texting phone instead
- Play Music – Look at phones that have a good amount of storage and can sync well with the computer system you have…not all devices play well with all systems
- Take PicturesVideo – The quality of the camera and lens is very important if you are going to spend the money to use this as your best, out of pocket option
Check our CNET for additional features and buying guide advice
- Do I really need a smartphone?
If you did not choose all or most of the features mentioned in #3, you may have just experienced the native hue of resolution…No really, you don’t need to worry too much about the who, what, where, when, and how much…choose a phone that feels comfortable to you. If you do need most of the features above, look first and buy later. Your pocketbook, mindset, and sanity will be left in tact after the 2 years and hundreds of dollars later. Remember that each addition you add to the basic phone calling costs money. Here are some items to expect from your bill with a smartphone:
- Calling plan – At the low end, you can find something around $30 for 200 or so minutes…unlimited or family plans hover around $60-$80
- Texting plan – These plans keep going up in cost and can be had for as little as $5 for a small number…while unlimited may be around $30
- Data plan – $15 – $30 is mostly for a limited amount of data…if you think of tethering, you may need to consider adding another $20-$30
- Additional lines – If you wish to add a phone as a home phone or for another member of your household, many places are offering the buy-one-get-one option…however, they will charge you around $10/month for the additional phone
Be careful with the sales out there. Do your research. Answer the questions before you go. Don’t be lured in by the shiny new devices…lest all your challenges be remembered. Enjoy the search, enjoy the experience, and enjoy your new phone…