The Smartphone Buyer's Guide 2015 (2015)

Business or Pleasure:  What is the purpose of your cellphone?  **Bonus** A Quick Budgeting Guide For Cellphone Buyers!

 

 

Whew!  Now that is a lot of information to take in about the technicalities of the mobile phone.  Now, it’s time to come down from a technical level and settle to a more personal level.  It’s time to think about what mobile phone will work for you, and the mobile phone you choose will serve its intended purpose in your everyday life and business, activities, and responsibilities.  This is the part that can be quite confusing and can cause so feelings of indecisiveness with the numerous options that are available. 

 

Knowing what you want

 

Choosing a cell phone that is just right for you can end up being a very difficult.  It’s no surprise since the market is flooded with many options.  Today, there are over 100 cell phone manufacturers and thousands of phone carriers.  With this vast selection, it can be easily understood why picking out a cell phone can be a daunting task.  Mobile phones are offering accessible features unlike any device on the market today. 

 

Consumers now have easier SMS and MMS services, web browsing, GPS navigation, and social networking while staying in tact with work and their everyday lives.  The smartphones are leading the charge due to operating systems like Windows, Android, and Apple.  These phones’ advanced operating systems can run many varieties of applications that offer you access to information that are not easily accessible to you. 

 

These phones have helped people become more successful with business, time management, money management, and other important factors that human beings depend on for sustenance.  However, conventional or lower-tech phones are not far behind.  They offer convenience with their large screens, QWERTY keyboards, and web browsing capabilities.  They also contain email applications, but they are not as robust as the email applications that you will find accessible with the smartphone.  However, conventional phones offer email applications that are a lot simpler to use. 

 

Hold off on dashing out and buying that new phone, there is still a lot of information to cover before you get to the fun part.  It is important to consider a few underlying factors when your decided to purchase a mobile device. 

 

When you're ready to buy a phone, you'll first have to decide which of the two types, conventional mobile phone or smartphone. Choose a conventional model if you mainly need voice and text-messaging capability, and perhaps a music player and camera. Smart phones, with their advanced operating systems, larger displays, QWERTY keyboards, and other computer-like features, are a better choice for people who need frequent access to multiple e-mail accounts, a sophisticated organizer for appointments and contacts, the ability to open Office documents, and Internet-based services. One compelling advantage of most smart phones is their ability to access a host of applications consisting of productivity tools, shopping, multimedia, games, travel, news, weather, social, finance, references, etc.

 

What do you use your phone for?

 

When picking out a phone it is very important that you know how it will fit into your lifestyle.  Knowing what you will use your phone for, how you will use your phone, and how often will prepare you for the road ahead.  If spending money is a science, and planning for something that you would like to spend that money on is Quantum Physics mixed with a serving of Calculus on the side.  Thinking about all the things that you may or may not do with your phone will require you to sit down and really think about who you are.  Will you use your phone for leisure, for business, or for the basic purpose?  These are some of the questions that you will need to ask yourself before picking up that credit/debit card. 

 

If you text more than you talk, why would you buy get a phone plan that’s unlimited talk and text and vice versa?  If no one ever calls you and you rarely place calls then why wouldn’t you get a mobile plan that’s suitable for your use?  The scariest thing about a majority of consumers today is that most shopping is done on impulse anyway.  There is no thought behind their purchases, they just simply buy.  Blindly picking out your phone will be just like walking into a grocery store hungry.  You will end up finding a lot of stuff that you don’t really need.  So, sit down and write out the things that you do every day and see how your phone can accommodate you.

 

You will need to also look at other features like the screen size, applications, and other features of the phone.  Ask yourself if this phone will be the right one for you.  Ask self if this phone will phone be a distraction, and aide, or a helpful business tool.  Are you going through a life changing event such as working from home or retirement? If so, you may need to go for a phone that compliments that transition.   If your lifestyle is relaxed you need to have a phone and a phone plan that is relaxed as well.

 

Budget

 

Your budget is affected by a few factors, your shopping style, your preferred phone service, and your needs.  You will consciously or subconsciously base your purchasing decision on these three factors.  However, to make the budget work the best for you it is vital to be able to channel these factors in the direction that you need to. 

 

There are new and enticing phones being released frequently that offer greater accessibility than previous or outdated models.  Even the outdated models contain some appealing features.  But to pick the perfect phone, you will need to sort through the available selections, sort through all of your wants and needs, and come to a sound, mature, and responsible decision. 

 

This may seem like a hard task, and many will not know where to start.  However, the easiest place to start is to know your budget, the factors that will affect your budget, and what types of strategies to adapt to make your budget work for you.  Let’s become knowledgeable of the things that will come into play so that you can strategize your purchasing decision.  Here are a few basic tips of budgeting that you can adopt and apply to your phone shopping. 

 

Write Down All Expenses

 

Bills are the heart of your budget, and what keeps us motivated to keep making money.  Whether it is a food bill, rent, car note, gas, education, citations, credit card payment, it doesn’t matter how big or small the bill is.  Bill should have a permanent place in your budget.  Adding your bills and expense to your budget will also keep you up-to-date on the due dates as well.  Many people are late on bills simply because they forgot about the due date.  It not that they weren’t can't afford to pay the bill, it’s just that there are other things that they would rather spend their money on.  To get a good grasp on your finances, include everything that deals with your money in your budget. 

It would also help if you categorized all of your bills based on how you spend and life events.  For example, birthdays and other special occasions can be something that you set aside or budget.  Or maybe you can pencil in a little money to include for that perfect phone that you’ve been looking to buy.  To make the process a lot faster and easy on the eyes, you can enter your budget into a spreadsheet.  This will help with organizing the categories of each expense as well, and make looking at your budget less stressful. 

 

Be Consistent

 

Never stop budgeting.  This is the most important thing to remember about budgeting.  The rule is to never spend more than you earn.  However, many tend to forget this rule even though it’s pretty straightforward.  Spending more than you earn breaks the cardinal rule of money management, because that puts you in the category of deficit spending.  It doesn’t matter if you are a middle class citizen or a millionaire, if you are always spending more than you ear, you will always be in debt.  Another helpful tip is to add up all of your expenses and compare them to how much money you actually make to determine if your bills are trumping your earnings.  If this is the case, then you must reconstruct your budget.  You will need to make the must-have your top priority, along with cutting off all of your luxuries and things that you can live without.  There should be no shortcuts taken, or you will only be cheating yourself. 

 

Have a Nice Treat

 

All budgeters know that treating yourself will help the budgeting process go a lot smoother than if there was no treat at all.  However, these privileges are planned and added to the budget.  They are not just based on an impulsive purchase.  Treating yourself within a budget will help relieve the stress of paying bills and sticking to your budget.  The best ways to think of these rewards are as treats for outstanding money management.  So, when you are making your budget think of something that you would really want that can safely fit into your budget without jeopardizing any of the money for the necessities.  Choose the reward carefully and apply it to something constructive, and something that really makes you happy.  It could be a hobby, shoes, a dance class, or anything that makes you tick.  Just make sure it’s budget friendly and modest.  So, don’t deprive

 

Plan for the Worst

 

Those individuals that are keen on budgeting know that planning for the worst is vital.  Life brings along many unexpected events and accidents.  They are always lurking somewhere waiting to attack.  It is the best practice to plan for those unexpected events accordingly, and neutralize the effects of those events that you were never looking forward to.  You can do this by maintaining your greatest assets frequently and to the best of your abilities. 

 

Avoid and Ignore the Delusions

 

To become a master at budgeting, you will have to change your way of thinking and perception of budgeting altogether.  What is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to budgeting for you?  Do you secretly hate the idea because you wish you had more money to spend?   Are you afraid that creating a budget and sticking to it will change your comfortable lifestyle?  Well, it’s time to get rid of those beliefs, and realize that even the richest people in the world budget.  Just know that budgets are not as constricting as you think.  You can still have fun on a budget, and a carefully thought-out and planned budget will allow you some special rewards in the end.  These rewards are your aim.  However, it is best to think of your budget as a spending plan unique to you.  With this plan you will be able to accumulate the great skill of money management.  This will give you a more responsible way of spending money.  Having a set budget will cut out impulsive spending, and give you control over your money, expenses, financial goals, eliminate debt, and help all of those bills fade away. 

 

What type of Shopper Are You?

 

When shopping for a mobile phone it is important to keep three things in mind your budget, your shopping strategy, and your needs.  Your budget and needs are the most important of the three.  This is important to keep in mind because it is almost inevitable that the phone you decide to invest in will be something that you would want to stick with for a while.  So, the best place to start is to know who you are as a shopper, and what type of shopping strategy to adapt to pick the best phone possible. 

Let’s take a look at the various types of shoppers to determine your purchasing style.  Knowing the type of shopper you are will help you decide your strategy when you finally go decide to go out and purchase your phone.  This will also supplement your budget and help you determine where you should buy your phone. 

 

Discount Shopper – This shopper is the type of shopper that loves to saves where there is any opportunity available.  This person loves to make every purchase budget-friendly.  Discount shoppers will always have coupons, discount codes, the latest information of sales, and all price comparison information handy at all times.  Hunting down deals is second nature to this individual, and that’s a good thing because this person can see all opportunities to save.  It’s best to adapt to this style if your budget is really low but you want to buy a phone that is much more expensive than you can afford.  Since the mobile phone market is so full of options, it won’t be hard to find the most budget friendly phone with the most advanced features.

Best Places to Shop for a Phone:   Anywhere and/or Bidding sites (e.g. eBay, Quibids.com, Craigslist, Propertyroom.com, Ubid.com, CowBoom.com, and Listia.com); Pre-paid phone service providers; Stores with marketplaces (e.g. Amazon.com, BestBuy, etc.)

 

The Researcher – This person partakes in long and extensive research that can last for months.  They are keen to all off the latest and future product releases.  They carefully and articulately strategize when it comes to shopping and purchase only when they feel the time is right.  They might make a decision to buy something right away or they make wait for months to purchase the thing that they’ve had their eye for a while.  This is one of the smarter and less stressful ways to shop. 

Best Places to Shop for a Phone:   Anywhere

 

The Impulsive Buyer – If this shopper sees something they buy it.  However, this shopper is not the best kind of shopper to be if you have a very tight budget.  If you adapt this shopping strategy when purchasing a phone, you might end up with something that you will regret.  So, if you buy on impulse now is the time to take a step back and think about a different shopping strategy that will work for your benefit.  Another option is sitting down and thinking very hard about what you truly want in a phone.  Write this information down and take it with when you visit your preferred phone service provider and ask a salesperson for their insight and help.

Best Places to Shop for a Phone:   Mobile service providers or any place where there will be staff to help. 

 

The Negotiator – This shopper knows that no price is every set in stone.  Everything is always debatable.   Their main goal is to get what they want at the cheaper price by bargaining with the salesperson until they can’t bargain anymore.  If you think that you have what it takes to walk into any store and talk the salesperson down to a price reasonable for you then go for it!  However, this may not work so it will be better to settle for purchasing a phone through bidding. 

Best Places to Shop for a Phone:   Anywhere and/or Bidding sites (e.g. eBay, Quibids.com, Craigslist, Propertyroom.com, Ubid.com, CowBoom.com, and Listia.com)

 

The Loyal Customer – This customer buys everything from the same place.  Not only that they have a slew of membership cards, discounts, and reward points.  This shopper knows what stores suit their needs and they are going to stick with the store that perfectly meets their needs.  Especially since they have all the reward points in the world to save them a nice chunk of change. 

Best Places to Shop for a Phone:   Phone service providers, electronic stores the offer reward points (e.g. Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc.)

 

Shopper on a Mission – You are more of a get in and get out type shopper.  Time and budgeting is your most valuable resource. To make shopping easier, you craft your budget all the way down to amount of sales tax before you go shopping.  Your goal is to always match or stay under that budget and get out as quickly as possible. 

Best Places to Shop for a Phone:   Anywhere or places where there won’t have a long wait time. 

 

Different Types of Phones

 

As stated before, there are a lot of phones on the market today.  This section will help your narrow your options down by breaking these many phones down into simple categories.  Take a look at the information below to receive some first-hand information of what the phones are really made of. 

 

Conventional Phones

 

The phone market is steadily shifting over to smartphones, and conventional or regular mobile phones are slowly being pushed out of the way by their descendants.  However, prepaid phone services seem to keep a great supply of these phones.  These phones are also very inexpensive when compared to the smartphone.  The best features that these phones offer is their compactness and the easy to use keypad/keyboard.  Many have cameras and support for wireless Bluetooth headsets for hands-free communication. Many can access high-speed data networks to enjoy music and video-based services. Other capabilities might include a touch screen, a QWERTY keyboard, a full browser, a multi-megapixel camera, memory-card storage for music and pictures, and more options for custom ring tones, games, and other services. If you are searching for something functional, then this phone will be the right one for you.   The same advice we gave above about form factors also applies to feature phones. In this case, in addition to touchscreens, sliders, and QWERTY slabs, you'll also have basic voice phones that are either candy-bar shaped with numeric keypads, or flip phones that open up to a larger, more comfortable numeric keypad. Flip phones have the added benefit of not needing a keyboard lock; close the phone and you won't mistakenly dial someone while it's in your pocket. For the accident-prone, some are even waterproof or ruggedized.

 

Smartphones

 

Their advanced operating systems give them access to a host of applications: productivity tools, shopping, multimedia, games, travel, news, weather, social media, finance, references, etc. Popular, high-profile models such as the Samsung Galaxy and the iPhone command the highest prices.  But there are a massive number of older model smartphones that can achieve most of the same functions for about a fraction of the price.  These older smartphones perform much better than the conventional phones, and the offer the appeasing accessibility.   

 

Form Factors

 

The form factor refers to the position and layout of the phone’s major elements, shape, size, and style.  These form factors are prevalent in flip phones, bar phones, slider phones, their subcategories, and uncommon models.

 

Bar Phones (Also known as:  Candy Bar, Block, and Slab)

 

This phone takes on the shape of a cube and has rounded edges and corners.  It vaguely resembles a chocolate candy bar, thus the name bar.  The bar is a form factor this is used by a large number of phone manufactures, and they all have a similar layout.  All bar phones contain only a few buttons on the outer shell of the phone.  This small group of buttons includes a power, volume, and camera button on the outer left and right edges of the phone. 

There are a few buttons located at the very bottom of the touchscreen, the home button, the back button, and the search button.  The earphone jack is located at the top left or right corner, and charger jack on either the bottom-center, left, or right corner of the phone.  If the charger jack is located on the left or right, it is usually located on the side opposite of the power button.  Only the QWERTY virtual keyboard is available with this phone.  This is the most frequent form factor that you will see in mobile phones today. 

 

Touchscreen (Also known as: Slate Phone; Subcategory of the Bar Phone)

 

The touchscreen is prevalent in smartphones and all advanced mobile devices.  It consists of an onscreen QWERTY virtual keyboard.  Nine out of ten smartphones worldwide are manufactured in touchscreen form. 

 

Phablet (Subcategory of the Touchscreen)

 

The name ‘Phablet’ is a combination of the words phone and tablet.  These are the larger smartphones that can function as both a phone and a tablet.  The screens of phablet usually measures to about 5” to 6.9”. 

 

The Swivel Phone

 

The swivel phone is made up of two segments that are connected by a central axis which swiveled past each other in a way that usually resembled a kick.  .  These phones were made to allow the consumers to have a physical keyboard accessible to them without being too large in size.  Some later slider phones came equipped with both a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard and a physical QWERTY keyboard.  

 

The Brick Phone

 

The Brick phone mainly refers to what will now be considered a chunky, passé bar-shaped phone.  These phones usually consisted of a very large battery and an alphanumeric keypad.  Earlier “bricks” were accompanied by an antenna protruding out of the top of the phone.  However, many apply the brick to older touchscreen phones and other form factors like the slider phone and the flip phone. 

 

The Flip Phone (Also known as:  The Clamshell)

 

The flip phone consists of two sections that are connected by hinges that allow the phone to open close just like a clamshell.  This design allows for a much more compact and portable phone.  When open, the top section of the phone exposed a screen along with a speaker, while the bottom exposed a keypad, a few command buttons, and a microphone.  The bottom half is where the battery was housed, while outer top housed a digital clock display. 

 

The Slider Phone

 

The slider phone is a phone that is made up of two or more sections that use a rail system to slide open.  Once the phone slid open the bottom half mainly revealed a small QWERTY keyboard and the top half house the phone’s screen, microphone, and speaker.  These phones were made to allow the consumers to have a physical keyboard accessible to them without being too large in size.  Some later slider phones came equipped with both a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard and a physical QWERTY keyboard.  

 

The Taco Phone

 

The taco phone was very short-lived.  The phone resembled a taco when talked into, due to the microphone being located on the side of the phone.  The phone consisted of a display screen on the front center, a keypad of the right, and a group of command buttons on the left. 

 

The Watch Phone (Also known as:  Smartwatch)

 

This is a wristwatch with Bluetooth support and full 4 band Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) to allow the user to make a phone call. 

 

 

Phone Manufacturers

There are many phones on the market today,

Samsung Galaxy

The Samsung Galaxy or Samsung GALAXY is the dominating mobile device for all Android phones.  This phone is manufactured, designed, and advertised by Samsung.  The Galaxy line of products includes state-of-the-art smartphones, a tablet series, and phablet series.  The mobile devices are definitely making a statement, and it’s obvious that everyone is paying attention.  The Galaxy phones are the runner-up to the iPhone when it comes to the most purchased.  However, this phone has had extraordinary success.  Due to its selection of over 50 devices, Samsung has been able to break in to all pricing options, every mobile carrier, every country, and every form factor. 

 

The development of the Samsung galaxy began in 2009 with the release of the Samsung i7500 (aka Samsung Galaxy).  This was the beginning of Samsung’s race into the Android market.  Today, the Galaxy is in great competition with the iPhone.  Ironically, until recently Samsung had been manufacturing chips and phones for the iPhone.  If you plan to purchase this phone, then it would be a great choice due to the level of its accessibility and user – interface.  However, be aware of the cost of the phone. 

 

Apple iPhone

 

The iPhone is a line of smartphones designed and marketed by Apple.  The phone was released back in 2007, and has dominated the smartphone market since its release, and it sold approximately 6.1 million iPhone units over five quarters. There is currently eight generations of iPhone, and eight generations of Apple operating systems.  The first generation phone was a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) phone, some of the designs and physical features of the first generation iPhone have been replaced with better features by the newer models.  The newest model of the iPhone has a screen that measure to about 4.7” to 5.5”.  The earlier versions of the iPhone had smaller screens that measured to about 9 cm. 

 

This phone has amazing capabilities that no other phone has on the market today.  Features like a talking personal assistant named Siri that helps you get all of your tasks done and interacts with you through this outstanding natural speech voice recognition feature.  She can also ask you questions if she needs more information about your commands. 

 

The iPhone has been a well-publicized competition with Samsung and Apple seems to winning by the long haul.  And now that Samsung is no longer manufacturing chips and phones for Apple, the competition just got easier for Apple.   It will be impossible for Samsung to beat the accessibility of the iPhone.  Also, just like the Apple computers, the iPhone was built to last. 

 

 

Brands of Other Phones

 

Acer

Alcatel

Allview

Amazon

Amoi

Apple

Archos

Asus

AT&T

Beneton

BenQ

BenQ-Siemens

BlackBerry

Blu

Bosch

Casio

CAT

Celken

Chea Comm

Dell

Emporia

Ericsson

Eten

Fujitsu Siemens

Garmin-Asus

Gigsbyte

Gionee

Haier

Hauwei

Hewlett Packard

HTC

Icemobile

i-mate

i-mobile

Innostream

iNQ

Jolla

Karbonn

Kyocera

Lava

Lenovo

LG

Maxon

Maxwest

Meizu

Microsoft

Microwave

Mitac

Mitsubitshi

Modu

Motorola

Mwg

NEC

Neonode

NIU

Nokia

NVIDIA
OnePlus

O2

Oppo

Orange

Palm

Panasonic

Pantech

Parla

Phillips

Plum

Posh

Prestigio

Qtek

Sagem

Samsung

Seiwan

Sendo

Sharp

Siemens

Sonim

Sony

Sony Ericsson

Spice

Tel.Me.

Telit

Theiraya

T-Mobile

Toshiba

Unnecto

Vertu

Verykool

VIVO

VK Mobie

Vodafone

Wiko

XCute

Xiaomi

XOLO

Yezz

Yota

YU

ZTE

 

 

Basic Phone Accessories that will enhance your Phone Experience

There are some essential phone accessories that you must acquire and maintain to be able to utilize all of the features of your phone and keep it running successfully.  Below is a comprehensive list that will give some insight on why these accessories are needed for your phone. 

Phone Charger

This is will be the accessory that will come with your phone.  The phone charger keeps your battery charged.  New mobile phones come with a charger that has a detachable USB cord to allow consumers to connect your phone to desktops, laptops, and other devices.  This will allow you to transfer files between your phone and other devices.  You can also use the detachable USB to charge your phone through other devices. 

 

The Wireless Charger/Wireless Power Transfer (WPT)

Wireless chargers are the new accessories to the market.  The technology involves the transmission of electrical power from a power source to the mobile device without the use of any wire connectivity.  This allows the phone to be charged when there are times of inconvenience or when there are dangerous circumstances.  The way it works is a transmitter that is connected to a power source sends of power to the phone by electromagnetic fields the surface that will or contains the phone.  The power will then be converted into electric power and sent to the phone. 

 

Secure Digital (SD) Card

Most smartphones require an SD card for the ultimate data storage.  SD cards are interchangeable between devices and usually come with the mobile phone.  SD cards come is different sizes, weights, speed classes, and capacities, and will only fit into matching slots.  The size compatible with your mobile device will be the microSD card and measures to about 15 x 11 x 1.4 millimeters and weigh about 0.25 grams.  The capacity of microSD cards range from 2GB to 32GB.  The microSD card that will come with your phone will have a capacity of 4GB. This card will allow you to store media, contacts, and other applications.

 

Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card

This is an integrated circuit that serves the purpose of securely storing International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) (used to identify a mobile network) and the related key that identifies and authenticates subscribers the mobile device it is assigned to.  These cards are designed to be exchangeable between different mobile devices.  For your mobile phone, a SIM card will be assigned to you be the phone carrier to activate phone service. 

 

Auxiliary Cord

This cord will connect your phone to any headphone audio jack that your cord can connect to.  You will be able to connect the opposite end into the headphone audio jack in your phone to enjoy music and phone audio through the speakers of whatever you are able to connect it to. 

 

Headsets

The headset is not an essential, but it is a very helpful tool.  The most popular headset is the Bluetooth headset.  This accessory allows you to talk on your phone wirelessly.  This accessory is helpful to use while driving, but many new model cars already come equipped with Bluetooth capabilities. 

 

Phone Case

The phone case protects the phone from damage.  This can be purchased through phone carriers and other marketplaces.