Today’s phones come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and there’s no “best”
format. There are, however, certain advantages and disadvantages to each; the standard (or
“candy bar”) shaped phones tend to be relatively rugged and durable, but the exposed
screens can mean that they are susceptible to scratches when placed in a pocket with loose
change and car keys, making a case of some sort essential. Flip, or clam shell phones get
around this problem to some extent.
They can also fit a larger screen in relation to the
dimensions of the phone (although not all manufacturers choose to take advantage of this).
The downsides are that the hinges can sometimes be a weak point if you treat your phone
roughly, and most have a smaller secondary screen for use when the phone is closed. This
can lead to higher cost and lower battery life relative to an equivalent candy bar phone.
The size is also and important factor -you may not want a phone that you can’t
comfortably slip into a pocket, but equally you need to be sure that the keys are large enough
for you to press cleanly. As with all factors, the best thing a potential purchaser can do is try a
variety of phones and find one that they are comfortable with.
The feature list on today’s phones is nothing short of staggering; it’s difficult to believe
that only ten years ago a very basic mobile phone with limited range, battery life, and
portability was the preserve of the very rich. It now seems that everyone has a slim, powerful
phone with built in cameras, mp3 players, and internet access. “Smart phones” are even more
feature filled, and blurring the line between telephone and PDA – some of these can even be
fitted with gps modules and run satellite navigation programs!
With all of these features, the interface becomes very important – if it’s difficult to use
a feature, chances are that you won’t. Most manufacturers put a lot of effort getting their
interfaces to be as intuitive as possible – try a few and find out what feels right to you. One of
the biggest obstacles to changing phones is that after a few years of using a particular brand
you become accustomed to the way they operate. Suddenly changing to a different
manufacturer can then make the menu system feel clumsy and unwieldy, but give it time;
you’ll soon get used to a new way of doing things, and may find you prefer it – always judge
the phone on its own merits.
This rate of change means that you have to be careful when choosing a mobile
phone. Some people are happy to pay a premium for the latest technology and the kudos
attached to owning what are in some cases very fashionable commodities. As long as these
people go into things with their eyes open that’s fine – but you should always be aware that
the latest portable technology costs, and will be out of date incredibly quickly. By choosing to
stay a little behind the bleeding edge (and we don’t mean carrying round something the size
of a halfbrick that runs on AA batteries!), you can have a smart, functional phone AND CALLS
FREE! (See “Getting the best deals”)
Think about what you really need. We, as consumers tend to be blinded by features
for the first week, but after the honeymoon period is over many people use their phone
regularly for little more than telephone calls, texts, and appointments!