1 May 2011
Choosing a mobile phone
Today's mobile phone handsets do everything from simple phone calls to web surfing and email – and take great pictures, too. Take a look below and decide which features fit your lifestyle best.
Cameras & MP3 players
Many people take snapshots with their mobile phone, so it's no surprise they want a great built-in digital camera. Today's mobile phones – with digital cameras of up to 8 megapixels – take great snapshots, and many can shoot short video clips, too.
Some mobile phones also contain radios and MP3 players, so you can listen to music when you're not making calls. In addition, many models can do smart stuff like pausing the music if a call comes in, meaning no fumbling.
Style & shape
The smaller the mobile phone, the handier it is to carry around.There are three main styles: candybar (the standard bar-shaped traditional phone), clamshell (with a flip cover) and the slider (where the keypad slides out from under the screen).
Candybar designs are all-in-one, with screen and controls on a single rectangular block. They're robust and easy to use, so look at candybar designs if your phone gets the odd bit of rough treatment. Clamshell mobile phones are also good for this, as the screen is protected from scratching.
Clamshell designs have a screen that 'folds over' the keyboard, which you open up to use it. They're fun to use, and often have bigger screens and keyboards than candybar designs despite being smaller when folded up. Also, having the buttons protected means the phone won’t accidentally dial your friends when it bumps against something in your bag!
You’ll also see variants of clamshells like ‘twist’ phones, where the screen can turn around 180 degrees to keep everything on display without having to open it up.
Like clamshells, slider designs also protect the screen by keeping the keypad retracted underneath. This often means the screen can be bigger – handy if you're planning to use your phone as a PDA (personal diary and organiser) too. Mobile phones also come in a range of colours, so you can pick one in your favourite colour or that matches your favourite outfit!
Today's mobile phones have excellent clear, full-colour screens. The main factor determining screen size is how you'll use your phone. Do you mostly make calls, and just need clear digits and contact names on the screen? If so, go for a smaller screen, since it should increase battery life and 'talk time'.
If you expect to use your phone for web surfing and email on the go, then look for a larger screen. A screen with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels is ideal for checking email or looking at mobile web pages – and it'll show your To-Do list, calendar, or contacts list if you want, too.
All phones connect to the UK's GSM network as standard. Many also connect to the GPRS data network for light email and data, and increasingly phones are able to use 3G – a high-speed data network.