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Mobile Phones

Mobile Phones Buying Guide

In this day and age, Mobile Phones are as much a part ...
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Mobile Phones Buying Guide

In this day and age, Mobile Phones are as much a part of us as our everyday clothes are. They go in our pockets or on our belts the minute we get dressed and come off when it's time to sleep at the end of our day. These phones provide not only the typical phone calling and text messaging that they are most known for, but the advancement of “smart phones” introduced the ability to bring email and internet with us as well. When you're carrying the world in your pocket, it's a good idea to have a generalized understanding of what you're after before you even enter a mobile phone store. This also includes what service provider you may want to go with and what styles of phones interest you the most.

Provider Types
I'm going to touch briefly on mobile phone providers here just because they play a really big link in the kind of phone you have to get.
There's two main mobile phone network styles used today; GSM and CDMA. GSM networks use a small SIM (subscriber identity module) card that goes into the back of your phone. This card, or more so, chip, is your link to their network with your phone. When you buy a mobile phone from a mobile phone provider's store, it will typically be locked to allow only their SIM cards in it. The advantage with this style of phone is that you can also buy unlocked phones or unlock your current phone so that you can use any mobile phone provider's SIM card in it. This gives you network freedom and allows you to use phones with your carrier that they may not sell themselves. However, if you aren't a North American citizen then you may have to look into your country's laws regarding this because some countries prohibit the unlocking of Mobile Phones.

The second network style is CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access). This style of network does not require a SIM card to access it because the information that a SIM card would contain is essentially programed right into the phone. For this reason you can't just buy any CDMA phone to use with your provider, it must be one of the phones branded to their network so they can program your information into it. That is why you are best buying only from your provider or a safe classifieds website when looking for a CDMA style of phone.

If you're the kind of person who has needs that can only be met by a certain network style, then make sure you research some cell providers ahead of time to find out which providers use which network style in your country.

Phone Design
Traditional “candy bar” style? Slider phone? Flip phone? Double-flip phone? Camera phone? All are many questions you may get asked when you tell a salesman that you'd like to buy a mobile phone today. This part, however, will really depend on your personal desires with the phone. Having a better understanding of all the different design technologies will only be able to help you with the decision making process.

Traditional style, or “candy bar” phones are just that, a standard phone with no special design twists or anything. These are the straight phones with a screen and buttons right below it. Flip and slide phones aren't for everyone so a lot of companies are still making phones in this style, especially smart phone manufacturers because almost all those phones are of this design type. These phones are sometimes a bit bulky and long in the pockets, but there are plenty of holsters available to take care of that. A lot of phone manufacturers are also starting to make “candy bar” phone models that have an emphasis on an ultra-thin design which is obviously a lot more pocket friendly. Other than the larger size downside to these phones, the other major downside is that the screen and keys are all left unprotected and very volatile to scratches or accidental button pushes if the phone isn't locked.

Flip phones are still one of the more popular designs on the market because of the small footprint they have when folded up (and of course some of the cool designs manufacturers are starting to release with these phones). Flip phones used to be known for being a bit bulky when folded but most phones made in the past few years are now substantially thinner in this regard. Double-flip phones are a newer style of phone that introduce a couple ways to be opened. You can flip them up like you would with standard flip phones when you want to make a call but they also flip on the other axis as well. When opened this second way they commonly operate the screen in a landscape mode while allowing a QWERTY keyboard between the number keys to be used for text. Alongside the small size and flashy looks of flip phones, they also bring along protection from the keys being bumped and pressed when they are closed, and protection from the screen being scratched as well. With the traditional “candy bar” style of phone, users generally have to enable a keypad lock before sticking it in their pocket or in a holster to prevent unwanted key presses.

Slide phones are the newest of the three major mobile phone designs. These phones look very similar to a flip phone but instead of flipping open, the top panel slides back revealing a keypad on the bottom panel underneath it. These phones are great for keeping the keys protected while still leaving the screen open to view new text messages, alerts and other visual information. Since the entire top panel of these phones is usually dedicated to the screen with only a couple small buttons below it, slide phones generally have very large displays on them. These are great for viewing pictures, video and even steaming TV if you have a plan that includes that. Although most slide phones slide out in the method described above, there are some smart phones with sliding abilities that slide the other way. For these phones, you would hold them sideways and slide out a full QWERTY keyboard the long way. When slid out, the screen re-orients itself so you can hold and operate it the long way which is nice for the emailing abilities of these phones.

Camera Phone
Camera options are available on all three of the above mentioned mobile phone types. The abilities of the camera itself however, will vary by phone. Some phones have a simple low mega pixel camera for quick and decent snapshots while others may have cameras that can rival a lower end digital camera for quality. You'll also want to look if the camera phone you're after has a flash or not. Although these flashes generally aren't anything to write home about, they can greatly aid in getting decent pictures in low-light situations. If the camera phone you're after does not have a flash then you will be slightly more limited in where the camera can be used. Alongside the picture camera abilities of these phones, you will also find many models that offer a video camera ability as well. If you're going to get into using your phone's camera feature alot then make sure you can expand the memory on the phone because pictures and videos can use up a phone's internal memory very quickly.

Smart Phone
Although this category is previously unknown to most mobile phone users, “smart phones” are starting to make a huge debut to everyday cell users with models starting around the same price as any other good quality mobile phone. What makes smart phones different is their ability to handle data plans which gives them the abilities that you have with your internet at home. With these data plans users are able to browse the internet, access email and run other web-related applications. On some smart phones the ability to use “push email” is a high-demand feature. With push email the phone does not need to continually poll the server to check for new email, new messages are pushed to the phone the second they arrive. This can help cut down on data costs because a traditional phone that is always checking the server for email will need to continually connect to it, hence using more data. Blackberries are the pioneers of push content and are still one of the biggest known companies for this feature, although they are starting to work with other manufacturers to incorporate this ability as well. For businesses, smart phones offer an integral way to keep employees always connected. For them, the ability to always have their employees linked to email, carry an up-to-date company contact book and be able to schedule meetings (with invite lists automatically emailed out) while on the go can be crucial to smooth operations. With smart phone prices starting to drop into a range that everyday users can afford we're now starting to see a large portion of the general public carrying these devices around as well. Although some are just for the “cool” factor, others do actually make full use of these phones with a data and emailing plan for work or pleasure. Due to most smart phones using either a full QWERTY keyboard or large touch-sensitive interface, most are of the larger “candy bar” design with almost no flip-phone smart phones in existence yet.

The Small Things
Mobile Phones will also come with many smaller features that are worth making mention of. Bluetooth is becoming a standard on practically all new phones and allows interfacing with other bluetooth devices. This is commonly used for bluetooth headsets for hands free communication although some phones support bluetooth headphones for streaming music, and some photo printing machines also support a blueooth link with phones to make prints of your favourite camera pictures. Expandable memory is also becoming more and more common on most newer phones. This memory will give you lots more space to store your pictures, videos, music and any other files that your phone can make use of.

There you have it, the big world to those small phones you carry around. I hope I've been able to give you a good outline of the basics of mobile phone buying and that your next mobile phone purchase will be able to be a good extension of you.

Written by Steve Blackwell for TestFreaks


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