Now is a good time to get a smartphone. The latest devices hitting shelves in time for the holiday shopping season, and there is likely to be a lull in new versions until next spring. So why wait?
Here are some things to consider before you hit the stores. If you are upgrading from an older model, you can skip the first part for smartphone buyers first.
Need a smartphone?
Maybe you've been doing fine with just a basic cell phone, but many people who buy smartphones discover things they never thought they could do. You can install applications from a museum for a map or learn about current exhibitions, or you can catch up on e-books with a scanning application. You can also check email and Facebook more easily and take great pictures and share them quickly.
But you have to pay more - not just for the device. The monthly fees for voice, text and data tend to be higher compared to basic telephony plans.
What system should you choose?
This is the most important decision that will influence its future smartphones. It is not easy to change once you have all your apps, contacts and bookmarks in a single system.
Apple iOS, you can choose from a variety of iPhone models - ranging from the giant iPhone 6 Plus for older and smaller iPhone 5s and 5c. The iPhone 6 is a good choice in the middle and comes with all the bells and whistles, including a chip to make payments at Apple stores that accept payment. Phones running Google's Android operating system include further options from various manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, ZTE and Sony.
Android is more flexible in the sense that phone makers can be customized to your taste, and application developers have more say in what they write for Android phones. That flexibility has led to a free-for-all environment, however. Settings and features vary so much from one phone to another it is difficult to ask a friend or search online for help. And some Android apps do not work with all phones.
Android gets too fragmented because many application developers work with iOS first. Apple is the only company that makes the iOS phones, and must approve what goes into its app store. This helps ensure the quality, but it means to trust Apple to make those decisions for you. One advantage of iOS is that iPhones work well with other Apple devices, including iPads and Mac computers. Android can not do that because the hardware and software are not as tightly integrated.
There are several other systems competing for third place. Microsoft Windows is the most promising, then fell BlackBerry pioneer of the bunch. Windows is a good system, but has fewer applications.
How should you pay?
Simply used to pay $ 200 for the best phone, and the phone company covered the remaining $ 450 or so, which offset higher service fees for the duration of their contract of two years. Lately, telephone companies have been trying to wean customers off subsidies by having customers bring cell used or pay full price in installments. With T-Mobile, which is the only option. In return, you pay less in monthly service fees.
If I forgo subsidies usually come out ahead if you sign up for a data plan bigger - 10 gigabytes or more with AT & T and Verizon and 20 gigabytes or more with Sprint. The monthly savings are not as great with smaller data plans, so they are giving up more subsidies you get at discounts. But payment plans have other advantages, including the ability to negotiate your phone in for a newer before the typical two-year contract is up model.
You can buy the phone through your wireless service provider or go to a dealer such as Best Buy or Wal-Mart. You can also find phone on eBay and Amazon. Check with your company first to make sure it will work, as the networks in the US vary.
How much should you pay?
It may be tempting to spend a lot for the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, but you should ask yourself if you need all that power. This is especially true if you are paying full price. (If you are getting a subsidized phone with a contract, then why do not pay the phone company for the better?)
There are several phones available for $ 200 or less, at prices no contract, compared to $ 600 to $ 700 for the typical high-end phone. Normally, you are giving up a better camera, better screen and a faster processor. But what you get in a budget phone is usually good enough for such basic things as email, Facebook and even video. Owners of smartphones for the first time will notice a big difference in their basic phones.
Veterans smartphones might want more, especially if the phone is its main access to the Internet. Regular users may even consider paying more for additional storage. Phones fill quickly with photos and video and music downloaded.