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What Should I Consider When Buying a Cell Phone?

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  • Written By: J. Beam
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2014
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Buying a cell phone isn’t a major purchase any more, but having one is an ongoing expense. When considering purchasing a cell phone, you have to first consider your wireless phone provider and type of service. There are several major cell phone service providers to choose from, with varying plans. Typically when acquiring new service, providers offer deals on the phone when its purchased through them and in conjunction with new service. Sometimes the phones are free with a service contract.

Whether buying a cell phone independently or as part of a new service agreement, there are a few things to consider about the phone itself. One of the primary complaints of many cell phone owners is the ring tone. Make sure that the cell phone you are considering has a ring tone that is audible to you. Some cell phone owners who carry their cell phones in a briefcase or handbag don’t hear their phone when it rings. Different ring tones may be more audible than others to different people, so test the phone before buying.

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Other features to consider when buying a cell phone include Internet capabilities, built-in cameras, directory capacity and ease of use. The actual features and capabilities included on phones vary greatly and you should determine which features are essential to you before buying any phone. When browsing, retailers should be able to provide you with details and comparisons of different phones and features. You should also ask about expected battery life and power saving features.

Buying a cell phone isn’t complicated once you know what capabilities you want to have both at home and on the go. Choosing a cell phone service provider can actually be more complicated than choosing the phone, but thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Local Number Portability (LNP), you can at least switch providers without switching phone numbers in most instances. This means buying a new phone isn’t limited by providers, but rather your own personal preferences and budget.

Before choosing a service provider, make sure to compare costs and plans including network range, roaming charges, rollover of unused air time, and Internet access fees. Ask for the details of each plan in writing before you sign a contract and make sure you understand early contract termination charges. Also keep in mind that getting a phone with a new service agreement means you get to keep the phone even if you cancel service, so be sure you like the phone.

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Discuss this Article

wander
Post 4

If you are not into using a cell phone much, but need one for work, are there any available that just call and text?

I really don't need one that takes pictures, or plays MP3s or plots my location via satellite. I would love something simple. If you can suggest a model I would really appreciate it.

Sara007
Post 3

I think if you don't want years of your life tied to a single provider you should try a pay as you go service when you consider buying a cell phone.

While these plans don't give you access to the latest models of phones for "free", but they do leave you with the flexibility to use as much time as you want and to set a budget, all while not get surprised come bill time.

Also, cell phone provider contracts are often filled with stipulations and penalties. I had an experience with terrible customer service and a poor signal, so I wanted to quit my contract. It cost me $250 dollars to get free when all of their charges were figured out. This was especially horrible because I didn’t even get a “free” cell phone through them. I paid for mine outright. I swore never to do a contract again.

clyn
Post 2

It's important to remember that not all cell phones work with all service providers - different providers often use different technologies, so it's important to make sure that, if you buy a phone separate from a service plan, it is compatible with your service provider. You may get to keep your phone after you've canceled your contract, but that isn't much good if you can't use it.

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