Comprehensive Guide to Mobile Phones
Thinking of buying your mobile phone handset as part of a 24 month contract plan? Most people do, but remember that this means you will have to keep the phone for at least the next two years, or risk paying exit fees. You’ll want to know that it’s capable of handling all the tasks you need it to and still be reliable in two years time. But how do you know which is the right mobile phone for you?
Your choice of mobile phone is going to be a very personal decision. To make the best decision possible, take a look at our guide.
Popular Mobile Phones
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Finding the best mobile for you
To narrow down your selection, consider the following:
What excites you most about a new phone? Apps, Games, Music, Movies, Facebook?
Top Handsets for Apps, Games and Multimedia:
Will it be for work? Do you require a larger screen due to your bad eyesight? Do you need mobile access to the web?
What handsets can you realistically afford?
Comparing Mobile Phones
To avoid being stuck with the wrong phone for two years, you can compare mobile phones before buying. The comparing process will enable you to weigh up the specs of different phones against each other and compare online reviews to find out which phone best suits you.
There are four key phone shopping essentials you need to consider before you begin shopping for a new mobile phone:
1. Cost - Skimping Doesn't Always Save
Chances are you will have your handset with you for at least the next two years, so consider paying the extra money to get a phone that will survive the test of time. There are cheap handsets available that might seem like a good deal right now, but will they be obsolete by next year? Will you be able to get these handsets repaired if something goes wrong?
Choosing a mobile phone plan is often the most affordable way to get the right phone to suit your needs. For this reason, you should take the time to find one that will be worth hanging onto for the contract term and pay the extra to ensure it lasts.
2. Phone Features - Be Frugal
Be selective about what features you want included in your phone. While it might be nice to have access to all the latest features and perks available, you need to be honest about how many you’ll really use. A good example of this is the amount of storage available in newer phone models. Do you really need 64GB to store photos, videos and downloaded files? Or do you only require a 16GB model?
When you set out to make a decision on the best mobile phone for your interests, needs and budget, you’ll want to consider the following:
- Your Mobile Phone Usage - How much talk time do you use on your current mobile phone? Having this figure will help you determine which plan to get, if you should even go on a plan. If you use a lot of data, that'll determine if you need a 4G phone or not.
- What Do Use Your Phone For? - Look at your current mobile phone habits. What are you using your mobile for the most? Those are the features you’ll want to look for in your new mobile handset. Read online reviews and articles and make a decision based on the mobile that will integrate the best into your current usage habits.
- Your Personal Style - Your choice of mobile phone can say a lot about you, similar to the way your style of dress or your choice of car can. You may want to make a fashion statement with your mobile device or you may just want a handset that fits your personal style. Either way, you have a lot of choice with this year’s current models.
If you’re looking for a phone you can use straight out of the box, you would love the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3. With iPhone’s ‘Siri ‘and Galaxy’s ‘S Voice’ voice activated commands, you can just tell your mobile phone what to do and it’s done for you.
All the handsets on the market today are designed to be as user-friendly as possible. Compare the top 3 user-friendly mobile phones.
The iPhone 5 is said to have a spectacular new camera on the back and most say that the front facing camera isn’t too bad either. The Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X also have improved cameras. So if you are looking for a phone that will allow you to point and click with ease, and one that will produce beautiful photos and videos, it’ll be a tough call between all three handsets mentioned. View our best camera phone comparison.
On the other end of the spectrum, the LG Optimus G and the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx both fell flat in both camera design and image quality they’re capable of producing.
Maximum Coverage Area
When checking handsets for coverage area, consider where you live. You might want to read online reviews from those in your area to see how the best handsets performed. Most of the newer batches of phones run on the 4G LTE networks, providing blazing fast speeds, as long as your area supports such speeds and has access to the network.
All of the handsets we’ve mentioned run on the fourth generation or 4G network, and thus you’ll be quite impressed with their data speeds. The iPhone 5, for instance, is said to be twice as fast as the iPhone 4S, which was no slouch in the speed stakes. Even the Galaxy S3 loads web pages like you wouldn’t believe. If fast is what you’re looking for, you should be pleased no matter which mobile device you choose.
Faster Processing Speed
With a faster A6 processor, the iPhone 5 surely won’t disappoint those looking for faster processing speeds. All of the other phones on our list are also quite fast, with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X sporting either dual or quad core processors.
Long Battery Life
There is nothing worse than trying to use your phone when you only have a tiny bit of battery life left. Do the current phones available satisfy those heavy users who need longer battery lives? Some do, such as the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx.
The LG Optimus G is the only one that didn’t live up to expectations when it comes to a longer battery. That long boxy screen produces beautiful images, but it uses a lot of power to achieve this.
Lots of Storage Space
Do you need a lot of storage on the handset? If so, you may need a handset like the GALAXY S3 which offers a SD memory slot for additional storage. Alternatively, the iPhone 5 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models and the HTC One X comes with 25GB of cloud storage from Dropbox for 2 years. Depending on your needs, you should be able to find a mobile device with plenty of space to accommodate your media and other files.
3. Phone Design - It's What's on the Outside that Counts
The majority of people who own a mobile phone won’t leave home without it. Mobile phones have become an accessory, so it makes sense that the design suits you and your needs. Aside from colour choices and overall aesthetics, your phone should fit comfortably in your hand too. It’s up to you to find one that will match your needs, but that you don't mind looking at for the next two years as well.
If looks are important to you, you might want to go with the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S3 or the HTC One X. Each of these has been restyled from previous models to produce futuristic angles and lines that fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.
At the other end of the spectrum is the awkward and bulky LG Optimus G and the neat but not futuristic enough Motorola Droid Razr. Of course, this all depends on personal preference. Just as people have different fashion styles, some might like the LG Optimus G while others prefer the iPhone 5 or the Galaxy S3. It’s all about individuality.
4. Screen Size - Bigger is Better?
The ideal screen size for your mobile phone comes down to the individual. Many smartphones tend to offer screen sizes of between 4 and 4.5 inches, but there are devices out there that offer much larger screens of up to 5.5 inches such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. While the bigger screen can make it easier to browse, it may also become uncomfortable when you’re holding it in your hand. If you're hard of seeing, this might be a plus for you, but most users should stick to a phone that'll let you use it one handed.
Top-rated mobile for 2012
The best mobile phone on the market is a highly subjective opinion. After all, you’ll receive comments from Apple fans pushing the advantages of the iPhone and you’ll hear equally biased viewpoints from Android fans for their particular handset, such as the GALAXY S3.
When searching for the best handset, sometimes it pays to look at the top handsets rated by consumers and industry leaders alike. The following phones have received the best reviews by various sources online and offline.
#1 - Samsung GALAXY S3 4G
What’s inside the Galaxy S3 4G?
- Runs on the 2G and 3G Networks and it also supports the high speed HSDPA network
- It runs on Android OS v4.0 and comes with 16GB of storage and 1GB of RAM
- The S III is 136.6mm long, 70.6mm wide and 8.6mm high and is much lighter than it looks
- All of this produces an ultra-smart, fast phone that provides you with 660 minutes of talk time and 770 hours of standby time.
According to most sources, the GALAXY S3 4G the best smartphone on the market at the moment. With a space-age design, an ultra-fast processor and running on the super-stable Android operating system, you’ll find that this handset provides you with a lot of bang for your buck. The screen offers very clear picture quality and the camera quality is very good for taking photos and videos.
When you hold the Samsung Galaxy S3 in your hand, you’ll immediately notice how comfortable it sits. The outside case is very solid and the screen is huge compared to other smartphones on the market. The camera is top-notch for a smartphone and the battery should provide you with enough juice to multi-task or whatever else you want to do with your new mobile device.
#2 - Apple iPhone 5 16GB
The new iPhone 5 16GB:
- Offers a faster A6 processor that provides the newest Apple handset with the lightning fast speeds fans expect
- Measures 123.8mm high, 58.6mm long and 7.6mm wide and it weighs in at just under 112 grams
- Sports an 8-megapixel iSight camera, 1.2MP video recording in 720p HD that can provide 30 frames per second
- Bluetooth ready and can connect to 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi signals.
- Get up to 8 hours of talk time on 3G, 225 hours of standby time, up to 8 hours of Internet on 3G, up to 8 hours of Internet on LTE and up to 10 hours of Internet on Wi-Fi. You also get 10 hours of video playback and 40 hours of audio playback on a single charge.
Considered the best Apple smartphone to date, the iPhone 5 was released only last month. The sleek aluminium/glass design and aluminium back give this handset a futuristic look that feels just right in the palm of your hand. Even the camera on the back and the LED flash are seamlessly incorporated into the phone’s design.
The newest iPhone also comes with a Retina Display, which Apple seems to be quite fond of. This type of screen makes it so that the human eye can’t distinguish the pixels, making the screen look just like a printed page.
#3 - HTC One X
HTC's amazing One X features:
- An 8MP camera is capable of rapid-fire continuous photo shooting as well as taking simultaneous 1080HD video. This camera is great even in low-light conditions.
- A 4.7 inch touchscreen is crisp and clear and the curved glass design gives it a stand-out finish.
- While the on-board storage might not be over the top, you are given access to 25GB of cloud storage space on Dropbox, so you’ll always have plenty of room to store files, photos and videos.
The sleek HTC One X has really come out as a strong contender in the smartphone market stakes. Operating on the Android operating system, this stylish phone really does offer super-fast processing speeds, thanks to the quad-core processor running inside it.
#4 - LG Optimus G
LG's latest smartphone is a serious competitor with:
- Coming in 2013
- Popular Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Operating System
- 1280x768 IPS display in a tiny 0.33” handset casing
- First smartphone to run using the incredibly fast 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm CPU processor. This gives it the fastest processing speed of all smartphones tested.
- LG Optimus G boasts LTE 4G technology
- Bluetooth 4.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi
- NFC Chip
LG’s new flagship smartphone really does pull no punches when it comes to standing up to the big names in the industry. In fact, it boasts some excellent features that help it to stand apart from its competitors.
#5 - Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia have delivered a new 4G smartphone, the Lumia 920, offering:
- One of the first phones with Windows Phone 8 operating system
- A huge 4.5” screen display with a 1280x768 display resolution
- Highest pixel density in its display of any smartphone on the market. At 332ppi, this is higher than even the iPhone 5’s 326ppi.
- Nokia have replaced the Google Maps app with the Apple Maps app.
The phone design is very similar to previous Lumia models and features brightly coloured plastic backing made of durable polycarbonate. Unfortunately, the handset is a little bulky compared to the sleek Samsung Galaxy S3 or the iPhone 5. It’s slightly thicker and heavier on both counts.
The Nokia Lumia 920 uses Windows 8 operating system, which instantly makes it stand apart from its Apple and Android market-share competitors. The biggest issue with the Windows Phone 8 operating system will be third-party apps. At the time of this writing, there is a severe lack in the variety and number of apps available as compared to iOS and Android apps.
Most Popular Mobile by Sales
Sometimes it is helpful to know what mobile device everyone else is buying. Whether you want a smartphone or a regular mobile phone, we’ve got you covered.
In 2012, the race is already on to sell the most mobile devices:
- Samsung Galaxy S III has sold 20 million phones so far
- Nokia Lumia 900 is a close second with 12 million
- iPhone 5, which has only been out for a month, is in at 8 million
- Samsung Galaxy Ace, another Android smartphone, logs in at 5 million.
So if you want to treat your mobile shopping as a popularity contest, you’ll want to go with the Samsung Galaxy S III, which seems to be everyone’s favourite. The iPhone could catch up, though. We’ll have to wait and see.
Latest Mobile Phones
Getting the newest mobile phone means different things to different people. For some, it means making a fashion statement. For others who may be more technically inclined, they may want to see the latest technical advancements in mobile technology. Then there are those who just like being one step ahead of all other mobile consumers. Whatever your reasons, you want one of the latest phones on the market.
The Latest Phones – Far More Than Just Phones
Today’s smartphones are like tiny computers in your pocket. They’re also like having the latest digital camera in your pocket. With most mobile devices today, you no longer have to carry a bulky camera along with you. That’s because you can oftentimes take just as good or even better photos with your new mobile camera phone. Since you always carry your phone with you, you’ll always be ready to snap your friends, family and take those impromptu shots that can’t be planned for. And you can do all of this at the touch of a button with full knowledge that the photos will come out clear and brilliant. Check out the best camera phones.
Or maybe you’re interested in the latest touchscreen phones. The latest touchscreen handsets are filled with features and come with a host of new technical capabilities that most fans are dying to get their hands on. And to top it all off, the mobile devices on sale today are incredibly user friendly.
The smartphones offered today give us a glimpse into the rapid advancements of mobile technology. Whether you need your phone for business or pleasure, you’ll find a handset that fits your needs perfectly. Do you want a phone that can sync to your email account and calendar so that keeping up with your daily schedule is easy and convenient? This can be done with ease with any of the latest handsets available.
You’ll find fast Internet access, high-quality multimedia facilities, apps and much more that will truly make that handheld device you choose seem like a device out of the future. One thing’s for sure: if the phones of today are this smart, what will the future hold? We can only guess.
Keeping an Eye on the Latest Phones
Mobile technology is advancing very quickly and it’s hard to say where the next developments will take the handsets of the future. That’s why it always pays to keep reading up on the subject, to study the latest and newest devices on the market and to keep tabs on this growing industry that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down just yet.
Who said you have to be wealthy to own a mobile phone? These devices aren’t just for top-ranking business officials. Mobile phones are so popular and the great advances in technology have made the devices smaller and more accessible, and all of this has driven the cost of mobile phones lower than anyone could have ever suspected. These days it’s common for nearly everyone to have a mobile device thanks to how inexpensive many of them have become.
Yet even with all the cheap phones out there, it can be hard to find the ideal one that fits your needs. This guide should help to provide you with some tips when cheaper mobile devices are on the menu.
Why Choose a Cheaper Phone?
Sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with many of the mobile handsets today. Sometimes you don’t need 3D graphics or ultra-fast Internet. Sometimes you just need the basic phone and maybe text messaging and that’s it.
When that’s the case, you can often save hundreds of dollars by choosing a simpler handset that is better suited to your needs.
Are Cheap Phones Badly Constructed?
While this is a common myth, it has no basis in reality. Cheap mobile phones come from top manufacturers like Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC and Nokia. Many of the cheaper phones look and act just like their higher-end counterparts. You might lose some technical function, but it’s likely you won’t notice the difference.
Cheap Phone Functions
You may have to forego the fancy bells and whistles when deciding on a less expensive mobile device. Some features you can expect on your cheaper mobile handset include a music player, a camera, web browser, the ability to use applications and access text messaging capabilities. You will even be able to email and engage in conversations and activities on social networks.
Keep an eye out for clearance sales, which often happen when a new model is about to be released. This is a great chance to get even higher-end phones at cheaper rates. At any rate, you’ll be able to find a handset that fits within your budget, even if you have to settle for one of the lower end mobile devices.
Free Mobile Phones
In some cases, you can get your phone for free. Thanks to subsidies, many phone carriers allow you to get a free handset when you sign up with one of their call plans. As long as you sign a contract and pay monthly, you’ll be able to get one of the newer handsets, like the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 at absolutely no cost. Keep a lookout for one of these deals to save even more money on your mobile purchase. Just be sure you read all the terms and conditions of any plan and contract you intend to enter to ensure you’re not paying more than you should in hidden charges.
Mobile Phone Reviews
With so many smartphones on the market to choose from, it’s important to look at all the evidence available before you make such a big buying decision. Even if you get a cheap phone, it’s still going to cost a chunk of change and you don’t want to make that kind of decision on a whim. Even if the store you get it from allows you to return it, you might have to pay a restocking fee and even then you’re stuck without a phone. If you want to make the right choice the first time as to the ideal phone for you, read as many reviews as you can online and off.
Where to Find Phone Reviews
Whether you are looking for a new phone or an old phone, there are plenty of reviews available. Some review sites offer side by side comparisons and some allow you to shop for your ideal handset based on price and specs.
Here are some leading review sites for the latest mobile phones:
- CNET - With CNET, you can search for your ideal phone by price, provider, manufacturer and more. You can even narrow your search down to compare phones that you’ve selected. CNET also features video reviews and side by side comparisons that offer NET ratings and average user reviews. The latter can help you determine what everyday users such as yourself thought of the device in question.
- Mobile Phone Finder - The Mobile Phone Finder site specialises in offering in-depth reviews and comparisons of the latest mobile phones available on the market. To make your decision even easier, the site also offers reviews of mobile network providers and the various plans available. This will ensure you never pay too much for your phone or your plan ever again.
- Top Ten Reviews - With side by side comparison charts that weigh design, multimedia capabilities, cell features and other specifications, you’ll find phone analysis, pros and cons and other information that can help you make an educated decision.
- Tech Reviews - On this site, smartphones are added as they’re released and users can simply click on the images of the phones they want to learn more about them. Users can also leave reviews, which can give you even more of a glimpse into the mind of the everyday mobile phone user.
- Mobile Tech Review - You won’t find side by side comparisons here or the ability to compare phones with a single click, but you will find good information and reviews from everyday users. The articles on the site aren’t the most detailed, but they’re good for starting your search for the ideal handset.
Visit these review sites and learn all you can about each phone available before you make your ultimate buying decision.
Options for buying a mobile phone
When it comes to buying a mobile device, you have three primary options. These include:
- Buying the Mobile Phone Outright: This is where you purchase the phone for the retail price or at a discount if it’s one of the cheap or older phones. There is no plan attached to this phone. This is a good option if you are able to find the handset at a great discount, one that would be cheaper than getting the phone with a plan attached to it.
- Post-Paid Plan Options: Some carriers provide free or discounted mobile phones with their post-paid plans. For a contract period of 12 to 24 months, you will pay a monthly fee along with the phone fee. This usually comes out to an affordable plan that provides you with an affordable phone that you can use as much as you’re used to.
- Prepaid Mobiles: If you’re not keen on signing contracts, you can always sign up with a prepaid mobile phone plan. With a prepaid plan, you pay as you go. You fill your account that will allot you a certain amount of minutes and data bits and then you pay again when that runs out. This is a good way to go if you don’t use your phone that much or if you just want to try a particular carrier without making year or two year commitment.
Thanks to mobile number portability, you will be able to keep your existing phone number when you change carriers. It’s always a hassle to change phone numbers and number portability eliminates having to do this. The services you enjoy with your current carrier will not switch over to the new carrier, only your phone number, so keep this in mind. You will also need to be the primary account holder for you to be able to transfer your number to the new carrier.
Simply tell your new provider that you would like to keep your old phone number when changing providers and the person you’re speaking to will accommodate you.
Before you do switch providers, there are some things you may want to consider:
If you’re currently on a plan with your existing carrier and you want to switch to a different provider, you need to consider your current contractual obligations. While you can cancel your existing contract, you will need to work out whether there will be a payout figure involved to terminate your contract. This might involve an early termination fee or a payout figure to pay off the remainder of the handset included in your plan. You can avoid these fees by letting your current contract to expire before you think about changing carriers.
Pre-Paid Package Handsets
If you bought your handset as part of a pre-paid package, you can still move your number to a different provider. You will need to keep in mind that the majority of pre-paid handsets may be SIM locked. This is done to help prevent people from trying to use their SIM card in any other phone aside from the one bought on the pre-paid service. If you want to keep your pre-paid phone handset, you might need to find a way to unlock the SIM. This may cost you a fee to have done.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re considering switching to a new service provider, you will need to inform them that you want to keep your existing number. The new company will ask you to authorise your request in one of three ways; in writing, over the internet, or via recorded voice authority. You will also need to call your current provider to check what termination fees and charges might apply for switching services.
How Long Does It Take?
In most cases, moving your number over to a new mobile phone service provider should only take a few hours, but there are occasions when delays can occur. Obviously, the new carrier will want to make the process as smooth and as simple for you as possible.
Unlocking your Mobile
Steps for Unlocking a Mobile Phone
- If you have a contract with your carrier - you can simply call and have the lock removed in most cases
- If you are on a prepaid plan - your phone is most likely locked to your network. However, if you have been with the same network for a long time, you can usually contact the mobile company to have them lift the lock.
Keep in mind that pre-paid phones on Optus, Boost and Virgin Mobile can be unlocked after an $80 charge has been added to the phone’s credit account.
Contact your phone carrier or go into your carrier’s physical store to get the lock lifted. This usually works in most cases. Keep in mind that if you are calling your carrier, you should call on a separate phone than the one you’re trying to unlock. This is because you may have to enter certain codes into the handset, which can be difficult to do if you’re talking on it.
Why are mobiles locked?
Most mobile phones sold in Australia are SIM Locked to the network they were originally sold through. You will have to unlock the phone if you want to use a SIM card from a different carrier. To determine if your mobile device is ‘SIM Locked’, put a SIM card into your device that isn’t from your normal network and turn it on. If you notice that it reads, ‘SOS calls only’, ‘Invalid SIM’, ‘SIM Locked’, or ‘Network Locked’, the mobile device is indeed locked into the home network.
If you wish to unlock your mobile phone, you may need to contact your service provider and request this to be done. This may cost you a fee, but if you’re saving money on a more cost-effective plan elsewhere, the cost may be worth it in the end.
Hopefully this comprehensive buying guide helps you find the ideal handset for you. Remember to never stop learning and studying as much as you can regarding each phone on the market so as to make the best decision. The perfect phone to suit your specific needs is out there. You just have to spend a little time to find it.
Good luck and may you find the mobile device that does all you need it to and more, in a flashy case with plenty of technical capabilities and the speed to blow you away.
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