“Buying a cell phone” can mean a number of things. Whether you’re taking advantage of an upgrade in an existing contract, signing a contract with a new carrier, or buying a pre-paid cell phone for short-term use, this article offers prudent advice to ensure that you get a great a product, and a great deal.
Before going to a dealer,Assess yourself as a consumer. From the nature of your device to the specs of your plan, there are an overwhelming amount of options when purchasing a cell phone. Conducting the right research beforehand can save time and give you a leg up in the purchasing process Answer the following questions to determine the type of research you should conduct.
What’s your budget and do you have an existing cell phone plan, and if so, do you have a free upgrade?Are you looking to switch carriers, or to sign your first service contract?
How is your credit? Are you willing to sign a service contract at all?
Research service carriers in your city or a town nearest you. Assuming you are willing and able to sign a contract, you should look into options of larger, and smaller, more local service carriers before researching your preferred device. This may seem backwards, but there are good reasons to prioritize researching your carrier:
Carriers offer a wide array of contracts at a wide array of prices. Some carriers may simply be out of your budget. No use researching their products.
Talk to your neighbors and coworkers. Once you think you’ve pinpointed the ideal carrier, double check with people who spend time in the same areas as you.
What carriers do they use?
Are they satisfied with their service?
Are there particular places that your neighbors or coworkers don’t get service?
Consider a pre-paid cell phone. Pre-paid cell phones are available at a much larger range of retailers. They come with a set number of minutes (sometimes with the option of purchasing additional minutes), and they are a one-time purchase, as opposed to a cell phone with a contract that you pay every month. As an investment, a pre-paid cell phone doesn’t make much sense, but depending on your circumstances, it can be a logical option.
Consider what features are important to you in a cell phone. You’ve done the carrier research; now it’s time to start thinking about what’s important to you in the actual device. Smart phones have gotten so sophisticated that it’s impossible to list all their capabilities, but use the following features as a jumping off point for your consideration. (If none of these features are important to you, and your only priority is a phone that can make and receive calls, you probably don’t need a smart phone at all. This is fortuitous, because more basic cell phones are inexpensive, and require much less research to pick out.)
Camera. Most cell phones have cameras, but there can be a huge range of camera quality from one device to the next.
Research prices and consumer reports. Now that you know what features you’re seeking in your new phone, you should take advantage of the multitude of online consumer report guides. Everyone knows about the iPhone, but that’s not the only viable smart phone option. Cross reference prices and features of available devices with the features you want. This should narrow down your list, and put you in a better position when you go to the store to buy a phone.
Ask your family and friends about their phones. Online research is great, but talking to people you trust can give you a whole new perspective. Take into account what you know about the people you’re asking. Are they tech savvy? Are you? Do they share your priorities? Factor in the answers to these questions as you ask your friends about their experiences with their phones and whether they would recommend the devices.
Check which carriers support the devices you’re interested in. These days, most of the larger carriers—Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.—support a large range of cell models. But there are plenty of exceptions. If you’ve fallen in love with a certain model of phone, double check that a carrier supports it before taking the time to discuss contract options.