Mobile Phones

They're everywhere and everyone has them. So unless you want to remain in the dark ages, check out our buyer's guide to Mobile Phones.


Features & Functions

Understanding the numbers, jargon and acronyms on a mobile phone spec sheet is not always an easy thing to do. But it makes a big difference to how a phone functions and what you can do with it.

Design - Mobile phones typically come in a candy bar, clamshell or slider form factor. The candy bar phones are the most common; they are narrow and long, slip easily into a case and most can be operated with one-hand. However, their size and shape can limit screen and keypad size. The clamshell or flip-phone has the advantage of a small size that opens up to a keypad and screen. Some high-end models even swivel for taking photos at different angles. However, most need to be open to be used and therefore can't easily be slipped into a protective case. The slider phone, where the keypad slips out underneath the screen, offer space for a screen on one side and keypad on the other, while keeping a neat, small shape. Some models even feature a swivel keypad that is used horizontally for two-handed operation.

Colour screen Nokia

Screen - Colour screens are standard in almost all models, but size, resolution and colours vary. A Thin Film Transistor (TFT) screen gives better resolution and brightness because each pixel is lit individually. Resolution ranges between 101x80 pixels and 353x288 pixels with between 4000 and 16 million colours. Screen size varies with the shape and size of the handset. Good screen resolutions also allow images to be displayed as backgrounds or linked to contacts as a graphical identifier to give your phone a personal look.

Memory - Standard internal memory ranges between 10MB and 96MB, unless it's a dedicated gaming or MP3 phone, in which case it may have up to 500MB of internal memory with a separate memory card slot adding an additional 2GB of storage space. (See the buyers guide on memory cards for more on storage.) A model with a card slot is preferable for storing a decent number of MP3 files and digital photos.

Battery - The most common battery type is Li-Ion, short for Lithium-Ion, which has greater energy storage capacity than standard batteries. Models with 700 or 800mAh are common, with a few hitting 1600mAh with the higher number indicating longer battery life. Standby times ranges between 10 days and 14 days, with 11 days about the average. Talk time ranges between two hours and eight hours, but depends on features and use.

Camera - Even the most basic mobiles phone now comes with a digital camera. A 1 megapixel or higher resolution camera is preferable. Many models now have flash, auto-focus, continuous shooting, macro mode and self-timer. Video recording is available on most models as well, although resolutions are usually of low-grade-VGA quality. It is also possible to receive streaming video and to use video conferencing on more advanced phones. These usually come at an extra expense though.

Multimedia & Gaming - Mobile phones that play MP3 music tracks are almost standard nowadays, and give the phone another facet of functionality. Storage capacity is important so consider 64MB the minimum, but look for a model with a memory storage card slot. Models with an FM tuner will provide music without the need to fill the phone with files or worry about storage capacity. Some handsets are designed as dedicated MP3 players and others are designed for gaming. Most handsets come with Java games and as sound and graphics have improved, so too have the games. Phones with internet access can be used to download more games from the Web. A Java-enabled phone usually means it can be used for downloading games and Web browsing.

Connectivity - A mobile phone with USB connectivity can be used to connect to a desktop to synchronise and transfer files using a standard cable that is sometimes included in the sales package. Bluetooth and infrared provide wireless connectivity for synchronising with a PC or transferring files, such as music, video or images, between other mobiles or devices such as PDAs. Bluetooth also allows wireless headphones and headsets to be used for hands-free communication. Some newer music handsets include the A2DP Bluetooth profile that allows the wireless streaming of music to a pair of compatible Bluetooth headphones.

MMS/Email/Internet - A GSM/GPRS phone can be used to send and receive MMS messages, such as photos, music, voice and video files. It's also possible to send MMS files to an email address using GPRS. In phones with a Web browser, it's possible to access the internet and send and receive Web mail through Yahoo! Gmail and Hotmail as well as ISP mail that has a POP3/Web function, such as BigPond, OptusNet, TPG and iPrimus among others. A phone with an inbox can send and receive email directly through accounts with POP3/IMAP support. Most phones also feature Wireless Access Protocol (WAP) browsers that allow users to browse internet sites configured specifically for mobile phones. However, this technology can be painfully slow and not all sites are compatible. Some newer handsets, particularly those at the top end of the price spectrum, support push email; whenever new e-mail arrives it is instantly and actively transferred ("pushed") to the handset.

Extras - Voice-activated dialling can be used to record a word that will activate a call to that number when the word is spoken. Voice recording can also be used to record audio memos and send voice MMS. A speaker phone allows the phone to be used hands-free away from the ear. Mobile phones that play polyphonic and MP3 ringtones have the ability to play more than one note in an audio file at a time and produce a better sound. They're usually downloaded from the Internet for a charge.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?