Mobile Phones

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What's Your Mobile Style?

What is your style and preference? A flip phone , a candy bar phone  or something more cutting edge? Competition among cell phone providers has forced them to offer free or highly subsidised phones with many wireless plans, if you sign a year or two-year contract. They aren't always the smallest or lightest, or even the best looking. However, basic phones do what they're supposed to: make phone calls. Free phones can usually take pictures and have text messaging capability as well. For a larger range of features you will need to purchase a phone in addition to the service plan and the extra features do cost more. Mobile phones can cost as little as $10 (with a plan) or more than $300. Plus, don't forget to factor in additional fees for texting, sending photos or using an Internet microbrowser from your phone.

Basic Types of Phones

The Clamshell (a.k.a. Flip Phone)

  • Prevents the buttons from getting pushed by accident.
  • Generally open up to have a greater distance between earpiece and microphone.
  • Some models have external caller ID features, but many do not.
  • Can be a bit larger than single-piece phones.
  • Generally have larger screens; most phones with cameras are flip-phones.

Candy Bar Phone

  • Can be smaller and slimmer than flip phones.
  • Buttons can be pushed by accident, even when locked.
  • Screens are usually not as big.
  • Always have caller ID on the outside.
  • Displays can get scratched easily, especially if you tend to carry your phone in your pocket.

Slider-Style Phone

  • The compact phone slider cover keeps the buttons from getting pushed accidentally.
  • The phone maybe slightly thicker than other types.
  • Slider expands to talk, but sometimes don't offer enough space from earpiece to microphone.
  • The slider isn't always the smoothest to open, which can sometimes be a hassle when you want to take a call.
  • Caller ID shows up on the full colour screen.

Cell Phone Features

Now that you've decided what kind of body you want your phone to have, it's time to start looking for features. Most phones come with a few of the basic features, like caller ID, call waiting, answer phone, and a phone book. Here are a few other features that you'll want to consider, from the basic to the high-end.

Fun Stuff

  • Games
    • Fun, but not necessary. You will pay more to have them on your phone, either if they come pre-installed or if you download them via the Internet.
  • Ringtones
    • Can you download more if you aren't satisfied with your preprogrammed choices? Can you program your own? It might be a little superficial, but ringtones can give your phone more personality and distinguish them from other phones.
  • Multimedia Options
    • MP3 ,FM radio , and photo/video capabilities .
    • These options are becoming more widely available on today's newest cell phones.
    • Camera phones  have already gone in and somewhat out of style. Video phones  that capture stills and streaming video are the new "camera phone," but still, one question remains: How much do you really use the camera/camcorder on your phone? Remember that sending videos and photos costs money. Also, the quality of these devices is usually mediocre compared to a digital camera or camcorder. The only plus is how portable a camera phone is.
    • FM radio might be a selling point for some.
    • Bottom line: Don't pay for something you won't use.

Getting Productive

  • Voice Dial/Speed Dial
    • If you are constantly making calls, or if you have a lot of people you frequently call, voice dial is a great time saver.
  • Text Messaging
    • Often this is associated with the younger generation of cell phone users, but it can be useful for sending someone info on the go, such as a time or place to meet, and it won't disturb the person as much as a phone call.
  • Speakerphone/Conferencing
    • Speakerphones act as a hands-free medium and are useful if you need to concentrate on driving, or doing other things with your hands while talking on the phone.
  • E-mail/Internet Access, aka, WAP or microbrowser
    • This doubles as a fun factor and a productivity factor. You can use the microbrowser for downloading games, ringtones, and even applications, or you can use it for checking the news, stocks or e-mail.
  • Sound Recorder
    • Instead of carrying around an extra device for voice recording, have it integrated in your phone. It can be useful for making voice memos or to do lists. Keep in mind that the quality is usually pretty basic.
  • Connectivity
    • Bluetooth  and Infra-red  (IR port) are the two most important connectivity features on a phone besides a web browser. Use the Bluetooth to create instant communication between peripherals and your phone, and link up your PDA via an IR port.

MP3 Player Phones

For years, Bill Gates and other industry insiders have speculated that cell phones will eventually overtake MP3 Players as the music playing devices of choice. Though continuous innovation in the Portable Media Device market has extended traditional devices' reign, the new age of music playing phones has begun. Although current models do not rival the capabilities of PMPers, that standard is rapidly changing.

Phones With Other Features

The new LG VX5200  "Chocolate" model combines a traditional portable media player with a feature-rich phone. It has Bluetooth compatibility and a MicroSD memory port for storage. Unfortunately, the phone has taken some knocks for its interface, so proceed with caution.

Also available is the critically praised LG CU500 . In addition to being the first provider-offered HSDPA phone in the U.S. (making it one of the fastest phones on the market), the LG CU500 has a cool design, music play abilities and a camera with a rotating lens. A Micro SD card slot and a speaker phone round out the excellent model.

The Motorola MPx220  is a traditional clamshell phone that also has significant PDA capabilities, but without the usual qwerty keyboard. The Motorola MPx220 is based on Windows Mobile OS and functions like a smartphone. If you want to receive up-to-date e-mail alerts, but primarily want to use a pocket-sized flip phone for regular calls, then the MPx220 may be right for you.

The Samsung MM-A900  combines many state-of-the-art voice features into one phone. It has a speech-to-text input for text messaging, voice-activated dialing and an audible status reports on the phone's battery life and signal strength.

Cell Phones For the Kids

Firefly  is a unique little device for youngsters, preferably pre-teens. It is a cell phone, however, its features are more restricted than a phone you would give to a 16 year old. Text messaging is not an included feature, and the numbers that the phone is allowed to receive and call are limited to the ones entered in the phone book (20 number limit). Plus, the mini cell phone only has five buttons, making it super simple to use.

The LG Migo  is another children's cell phone. It has text messaging and 4 programmable numbers, plus 911. One battery charge supplies about 3 hours of continuous talk time.

Please also see this article by Consumer Affairs. It has various links to other sites that discuss the use of cell phones by children and the possible negative effects of using them.

Prepaid Mobile Phones

For people who don't use a cell phone that often, a prepaid phone  may be the right choice. They are also good for teenagers or for keeping as an extra phone in the car in case of emergencies.

You Might Also Want...

Mobile Accessories 

Ringtones  and Games 

Smartphones 

Prepaid Mobile Phones 

Additional Products

Mobile Phones 2, Mobile Phones 3, Mobile Phones 4

International Resources

For this resource in your home country, please see:
NL: Mobiele Telefoons Shopgids