What to look for in a Mobile Phone

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Features more technologically informed users will look out for in a mobile handset include:

Address Book Lookup: which shows the name of your caller before you answer the phone if that caller is in your phone's address book. All mobile phones have this, but some make it easier to find entries than others, and some can only store information in the SIM card. The phone may also be capable of different ringing tones so you are aware of who is calling without looking at your phone.

Text messaging: which lets you send and receive pager-type messages to and from the screens of other mobile phones. This is available on all modern handsets, but how easy it is to enter messages or to read them on the display varies a lot.

Roaming: All the networks allow this to some extent. It's not a handset feature, but may depend on the deal you buy, and if you need a phone that will work in America, it has to be a "tri-band" handset.

Fax and data support: Some handsets can simply connect to a computer. Others need special software running on the computer, and some can't do it at all.

Wireless Application Protocol support: This allows you to access internet information services on the move.

GPRS support: GPRS gives an "always on" data connection that can operate at speeds similar to fixed line modems. GPRS data is charged by the kilobyte, not by how long you are connected.

Infra-red and Bluetooth communication: with other devices. This is useful for data connections, and Bluetooth can also be used to connect to personal headsets or car kits, provided their bluetooth abilites are comprehensive.

Voice dialling: - some mobiles will let you press one button and say "Joe Bloggs" instead of dialling the number.

Call logs: Detailed records of your last calls made and received, preferably with time and date stamps.

Bits and pieces: - clocks, calculators, programmable ring tones and games are some of the recent extra features added to the latest phones.

FM radios and mp3 players: These can turn your mobile phone into something even more useful, especially if you are a commuter!

Colour screen: You don't need a colour screen on a mobile phone, but it looks pretty, and makes them easier to use.

Built-in camera: Although the quality may not be wonderful, having a camera to hand can be a real boon in everyday situations.

Vibrating alert: so that you know your phone is "ringing" in noisy or quiet environments.

Signal indicators: (as fitted to some Ericsson and Motorola handsets) which flash to show that the phone has suitable service. However, in a dark room, this can be an irritating distraction.

Note that you probably won't find all these features in any one handset. You have to decide what matters most to you, and how much money you want to pay for them.

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