Get the right mobile phone

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Get the right mobile phone

With the holiday season fast approaching, people are looking everywhere for the 'perfect' present for loved ones (and possibly themselves!). If someone you know is looking forward to a mobile phone as a gift, or simply needs one as an emergency aid or any other reason, eBay is a great place to look for bargains on new and used phones. Hopefully this guide will help you choose the right mobile for you or a loved one.

First Things First

Before you start to look for listings on mobile phones, think about what the phone will be used for, and who it will be used by. Consider these uses:
1. Strictly as an emergency phone - this type of usage doesn't require a fancy phone with camera, 3G (video calling) feature, MP3 player, polyphonic (real music) ringtones, etc. You can use a £20 for this purpose, on any PAYG (Pay As You Go) network, and be very happy. This type of phone is also good as a phone for an elderly person, mum or dad, a first phone for a child, etc.
2. Work phone - the type of phone chosen for this will vary depending on if you are in a trade or are mostly an office worker. Do you travel quite a lot? You will want either a multi-voltage wall charger or an extra car charger. Will the phone be taking many bumps and scrapes? Stay away from thin 'fashion' phones which may be more fragile than sturdy rubber-coated 'extreme' phones. Will you do any calls whilst driving? You might want to use a cordless Bluetooth headset, or at least get a phone which includes a corded headset free in the box.
3. Style or 'lifestyle' phone - We've all seen these: super-slim, glossy, fashionable colours, with flashy screensavers and easily changed fascias. Perfect for clubbers and teens (and anyone else who can afford the inflated prices), these are the phone models that beg to be shown off to mates. Keep in mind that first attempts by even the most reputable manufacturers can have a few mistakes or problems, so be prepared to put up with a few niggles as the cost of being ultra-cool.
4. Camera phones - While nearly every phone released these days has a camera, some phones pack a very good camera into the phone case. If photography will be an important side occupation of your phone, make sure you have USB connectivity (or an optional memory card for the phone plus a card reader for your computer). If you'll be emailing pictures about, don't settle for less than a 2 megapixel camera. Some phones have 5 megapixels or more, and at that point you're heading into dedicated digital camera territory. Many current phones even feature picture editors in the phone itself! Also, consider whether the phone has a flash, it's vital in dark pubs and clubs. A proper camera-style flash is best, the simple superbright LED bulb is a poor second.
5. MP3 player phones - perfect for sports enthusiasts and bored office workers, MP3 players and phones are another perfect match. The most important thing to look at here is memory capacity - 20mb of space is maybe 4 or 5 songs, not even a CD's worth. A memory card slot is ideal, but in this case find out what type of memory card is used. Sony Ericsson phones use the proprietary Sony Memory Stick, other phones use the newer Mini-SD or Transflash memory cards, which are super-small. As mentioned above for camera pictures, make sure you can connect to your computer via USB connection (usually Mini-USB) or you have a card reader for your computer (and an adapter for the newer tiny memory cards).

Other Things to Consider

Tri-Band, Quad-Band, etc. - if you travel overseas, to the Middle East, to Asia, etc., you will need a tri-band or quad-band phone. Research what type of phone networks you will need to connect to, and make sure whatever you choose can connect to that type of network.
USB connection - a phone with USB connection may use it to transfer data, charge and connect headphones, so you won't be able to do more than one at a time. You may also need a new car charger. The good thing is, if you have a PDA you probably already have a USB charger, also it's not manufacturer-dependant - a USB charger for one device will work on your phone!
Video playback and capture - if your mates enjoy doing silly things at work or on a night out, video capture is a fun feature to have.
Weight and size - if you carry your phone in a pocket or a tiny purse, its size and weight will start to affect you before you think. Find out the specs of your current phone (or a friend's phone) to compare.
Other features - some Nokia models include a torch, which doesn't seem very useful until you actually need it.

Here is a general guideline to phone costs, and what you can expect. Prices and features will vary on phones from different manufacturers and networks, so this is list is hardly set in stone, it is meant only to provide a guide to people who need a rough idea of what to spend to get particular features. In most cases you can expect most expensive phones to have all or most of the features of the less expensive phones - although, strangely, on the most expensive 'fashion' phones you sometimes don't get as much as you expect in the way of features!
up to £20 - 'candy bar' style phone (not flip or slide), no camera, small size, probably no colour screen
up to £50 - candy bar style, basic camera available, colour screen, colour screen
up to £75 - flip styles available, 1.3 to 2.0 megapixel camera, dual-band available, video playback, MP3 player on some models, polyphonic ringtones
up to £120 - flip and slide styles availalbe, 2.0 to 3.0 megapixel camera, video recording, dual- and/or tri-band available
up to £200 - even better camera, 3G capability on some phones, tri- or quad-band, very good MP3 player, extra features like photo editing, etc.
over £200 - the newest fashion phones, with more or less features depending on the size of the phone and how quickly they were rushed to market :)

I hope this guide has helped you decide on a phone for yourself or someone else as a gift. If you feel it has helped, please select 'yes' below.
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