Mobile phone buying guide

Whether you're buying an iPhone or a BlackBerry, Samsung, Nokia, LG, Motorola, or Sony Ericsson phone, we show you what to look for

Jargon buster: Mobile phones

2G: 2G is a second-generation mobile phone network.

3G: 3G is a third-generation mobile phone network that supports higher data capacities, enabling features such as mobile Internet access. A 3G network is also capable of video calling.

Bluetooth: Bluetooth is a wireless technology that provides a way to connect and exchange data between mobile phones and other devices.

Capped plan: A capped plan is a monthly contract where you only pay a certain amount per month if your usage doesn't exceed a maximum value.

GSM: Global System for Mobile communications. GSM is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world.

HSDPA: High-Speed Downlink Packet Access. HSDPA is a 3G mobile protocol that offers higher data capacity and transfer speeds. This means that more information -- such as video -- can be transferred wirelessly to your phone at faster speeds.

MMS: Multimedia Messaging Service. MMS is the sending of messages that include multimedia such as images, audio, video and text.

Pre-paid: A pre-paid mobile phone account is where credit for phone calls is paid for up front, and not billed by the month.

Push e-mail: When new e-mail is sent to you, it is instantly transferred (or “pushed”) to a mobile phone handset.

SIM card: Subscriber Identity Module card. A SIM card is a removable “smartcard” that is inserted into a mobile phone. SIM cards store the service provider details and identify the customer to the mobile network. You need a SIM to connect to a mobile phone network and make calls.

Smartphone: A smartphone is a mobile phone with computer-like features that can include e-mail, an Internet browser, a touchscreen or a full QWERTY keyboard.

SMS: Short Message Service. SMS is the sending of short (160 characters or less) text messages, to and from mobile phones. Receiving SMS messages is free of charge, but sending them costs 25 cents across all networks in Australia. Some networks may offer discounted rates for SMS messages sent across their own network.

Touchscreen: This is a display that's controlled by touching the screen. The touchscreens on mobile phones use either resistive or capacitive technology – the former can be controlled via a stylus, while the latter only responds to touch using your fingertip. Generally, capacitive touchscreens are more responsive than the resistive ones.

Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity and is a wireless technology that allows connection to the Internet when in range of an “access point”. It is normally associated with accessing the Internet from a computer, but many mobile phones -- particularly business smartphones -- have Wi-Fi as a feature.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World
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