Mobile phone shopping checklist

What to look for when buying a mobile phone

If you're buying mobile phone there are some important factors that should dictate the model you purchase. Here are some important things to think about before buying a mobile phone.

Accessories
Ask what accessories come in the package. Some phones may include an extra battery, USB cable, case, headset, or a memory card for extra storage.

Pre-paid or plan
A pre-paid account is ideal if you don't want to make a lot of calls or want to easily keep track of your expenditure. If you intend to use your phone extensively, then a monthly, post-paid billing system would be more suited, as they can offer cheaper call rates than a pre-paid account.

Form factor
Do you prefer a candy bar, flip/clamshell or slider phone? Do you travel a lot and require something small and lightweight? Be sure to hold the phone in your hand before purchasing, to make sure it feels comfortable.

Battery
Check the talk time and standby time of the battery. Generally, you should be able to get at least two days of use out of your phone before needing a recharge. Some phones with a lot of features skimp on the battery life to compensate, so be wary.

Connection
Check how the unit connects to your computer. Most connect to a PC via a USB connection (using a USB cable) or wirelessly via Bluetooth. Connection to a PC is required for synchronising data including contacts and e-mails, as well as transferring files to and from your phone.

Camera
If you don't want a camera on your phone, then be sure to disregard it. Cameras are a big selling point, and are often used to woo potential buyers. If you do want a camera, then cameras with 3 megapixels or more generally produce better pictures. A phone with an LED flash will also be best for night-time photography. Keep in mind that no mobile phone camera will be good enough to replace a standalone digital camera.

Bluetooth
Bluetooth is a standard feature on almost all mobiles. It enables you to use a wireless hands-free headset or speakerphone, as well as transfer files without the need for cables.

Additional features
You can send and receive e-mails, browse the Internet, make VoIP (Voice over IP) calls, play MP3 files and watch/record video clips on a wide range of mobile phones and smartphones. Be sure to check the full list of features.

Memory
Most phones have a combination of a small amount of internal memory, and a memory card slot, though some may not have the latter. For phones with card slots, be sure to check if a flash memory card is included in the sales package because if it isn't it will need to be factored into your purchasing decision. Extra memory may be needed should you wish to use your phone as an MP3 player or camera.

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