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How can I Prepare to Buy a Cell Phone?

By David White
Updated May 16, 2024
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A cell phone can be an important part of your life, or it can be merely a convenience. How much you use it and for what purpose is up to you. With today’s technological advances, a cell phone can do just about anything you may want to do out on the open road. When you prepare to buy a cell phone, you should keep several things in mind.

First of all, a cell phone allows you to take and make phone calls. In today’s global village, you can call anyone in the world as long as you know his or her number. Most cell phones look just like small phones, with keypads that have numbers and letters. The letters aren’t just for show, however. Most cell phones also allow you to send text messages using the letters on the keypad.

Cell phones also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from very tiny flip phones to full-on multimedia devices, so before you buy, ask yourself how big a phone you are willing to carry around with you.

Many cell phones today have other features as well. Among these are cameras, music players, email access, and even full Web browsing. Each of these features is available in varying degrees of functionality and technology. For example, some cell phones offer more Web access capabilities than others. To prepare to buy a cell phone, ask yourself how much Web browsing you plan to do.

Most cell phones sold in the U.S. are part of a phone company’s service plan. A few of the largest cell phone companies are Verizon, T-Mobile, and Cingular. When you buy a cell phone from Verizon, for instance, you are enrolled in the Verizon plan, which gives you a certain amount of free minutes each month and allows you other features as well, such as being able to talk to other Verizon plan members for free. Think about how much you are going to use it on a regular basis.

Basically, when you prepare to buy a cell phone, you need to determine just how much you want your cell phone to do. If you are happy with basic phone call functionality, then you don’t need to pay the extra money for a Web-enabled phone or an expensive high-access plan. On the other hand, if you anticipate that your cell phone will simulate a mini laptop computer, then you might want to look into the so-called smartphones, which can do just about everything a stripped-down computer can, though with a much smaller viewscreen.

Another thing to keep in mind is that costs associated with cell phones routinely go up corresponding to the amount of features offered. If you have the opportunity to download MP3 files to your phone, then you will probably do so. Such downloads cost money, which can add up if you become music-obsessed. When you prepare to buy a cell phone, ask yourself how much music you plan to download.

Other cost factors to keep in mind are the various service plans that cell phone companies offer. For example, if you plan to use your cell phone a lot, you might want to invest in a plan that offers more free minutes than other plans. When you exceed your maximum number of free minutes in a month, the extra time that you talk is generally expensive.

One last thing: you will be charged whether the conversations you have on your cell phone are initiated by you or by other people. In other words, just because you don’t make the call, doesn’t mean that you won’t pay for it. Free minutes are free minutes, whether you are taking or making calls.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Melonlity — On Feb 07, 2014

Wow. If you don't have a cell phone already, you might as well plan to get one soon. How many people even have home phones anymore? Cell phones are just too convenient, most offer affordable plans and you won't get as bothered by telemarketers and folks begging for votes, either.

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