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How To Choose a Cell Phone

If you’ve been to a cell phone store recently, you know how confusing it can be to choose the right one – unless you’ve thought ahead.


  • Step 1: Think about how you use your phone. For quick calls? Constant chatting? Emergencies only? Text messaging? Sending photos? Checking E-mail? Do you need Bluetooth or international roaming? Refer to your old bills, if you have them.
  • TIP: Find out if you can upgrade your phone with your current plan.
  • Step 2: Ask family and friends if they’re happy with their phones. Find out what their plans are and who provides their service. If you can, join the same carrier as your family; many companies won’t charge you for in-network calls.
  • TIP: Find out what local carrier has the best service. There’s nothing worse than signing up with a new carrier just to realize the service stinks.
  • Step 3: List what you like and dislike about your current phone. Does it fit in your pocket? Do you wish it had a camera? Does the battery always need charging? Do you just plain not know how to use it? This will help you decide what to look for in a new phone.
  • TIP: Go online and research what other people think about their phones.
  • Step 4: Decide how much you want to spend. Do some comparison shopping online. Phones range from free to pricey. If what you want is too expensive, go for fewer features.
  • TIP: You can donate your old cell phone to a charity that will refurbish it.
  • Step 5: Compare cell phones with each other online.
  • Step 6: One you’ve narrowed the field, check out the different models in person at a store. Hold them to your ear, punch the buttons -- get a feel for the phones in your budget.
  • TIP: When researching, be sure to find out what accessories are included in the price of the phone, such as chargers, headsets, and protective pouches.
  • Step 7: Ask the salesperson plenty of questions. He likely receives a lot of feedback on each model, and should be able to give you the pros and cons of each.
  • Step 8: Before leaving with your new phone, ask if there’s a “trial period” that will allow you to exchange your phone.
  • FACT: The first cell phone call was made in April 1973 by Motorola manager Dr. Martin Cooper, who is credited with inventing the cell phone. He phoned his counterpart at AT&T-- to announce he had beaten him to the punch!

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