Buying a mobile phone

A guide to buying a new mobile phone

Imaging

Even the most basic mobiles now come with a digital camera. Low-end phones will more than likely have a VGA (0.3 megapixels) camera, while high-end models should have a camera between 3.2 and 8 megapixels, or even higher. Many models have flash, autofocus, red-eye reduction, continuous shooting, geotagging, macro mode and a self-timer. If you don’t particularly want nor need a camera on your phone, then be sure to look at other features as mobile phone cameras are big selling points.

Music

Do you have an MP3 player? If not, mobile phones that play MP3 music tracks are almost standard nowadays. Storage capacity is important, so if you are planning to use your phone as a music player be sure to purchase one with a memory storage card slot, or sufficient internal memory. Models with an FM radio tuner will also provide music without the need to fill the phone with files or worry about storage capacity, though a smartphone with third-party apps should allow you to listen to digital radio over the Internet.

Connectivity

Nearly all mobile phones feature USB connectivity, enabling them to connect to a computer to synchronise and transfer files using a standard USB cable. This cable is usually included in the sales package. Bluetooth connectivity provides wireless connectivity for transferring files, such as music, video or images, to and from your phone. Bluetooth also allows wireless headphones and headsets to be used for hands-free communication, and wireless music streaming to compatible Bluetooth headphones or speakers. Most smartphones also have Wi-Fi, which means they are capable of connecting to a wireless network, mainly for Internet browsing.

Messaging

A mobile phone can be used to send and receive SMS and MMS messages, and on phones with e-mail capabilities it is possible to send and receive Web mail through the likes of Yahoo!, Gmail and Hotmail, in addition to connecting your work or corporate e-mail account to your phone. Most smartphones support push e-mail; whenever new e-mail arrives in your inbox it is instantly transferred (or “pushed”) to the handset.

Other features

Make a list of what you need or want your phone to do. There are a number of other features that may be useful. 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 and send voice messages. A speakerphone allows the phone to be used hands-free away from the ear, although this isn’t as reliable as a dedicated hands-free headset or car kit. Most phones also feature fully-fledged mobile Internet browsers that allow users to browse the Web.

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