Find the Best Phone for You

Are you trying to find the best phone for you? Everyone else seems to be addicted to their cell or mobile phone. But there is such a variety - and the costs! It can be a challenge to find the best phone for you. I'll show you how to research and find it yourself, rather than TELL you which phone to get.

If you don't need to be constantly connected to your office or certain people, if you prefer to deal with emails on your desktop or laptop, and if you haven't got time for games and gadgets, you likely do not need a smartphone. Don't resign yourself to buying the biggest, highest-priced cell phone just because - well, everyone else does.

Rather, evaluate how you plan to use your phone, and how often. Then find a plan and model that will do for you. If things change, you can always upgrade - or switch to another model. There is a smorgasbord of choices; but you can find the best phone for YOU, and that without the frustration of trying out half a dozen bad choices first.

That smorgasbord is constantly changing, so it is hard to keep updating a full catalogue of phones. I'm not going to try. Instead, let me review how to make some basic choices to narrow your choices to just a few. From there you can draw lots or play "Ennie, mennie, miney-moe."

Minimal Phone Calls

If you are fairly sure you will only be using your phone for occasional calls or emergencies, which should not be for more than say 10 days a month, or less than 100 voice/text call minutes per month, and no email use, then you want a basic non-contract phone. However, most of the 'free' phones (without a two-three year binding contract) have higher monthly rates. Instead, you can get a contract that lets you pay as you go. This could cost you less than $15 a month and be the best phone for you.

Your Budget Range

Decide what you can afford first. Then, when you go shopping watch for the promos and specials; you might find a higher quality phone at a price you can afford after all. As I said, the range of options is vast. Still, no need to pay for options you really don't need.

Which Operating System

The next decision to make is - which operating system will you be most comfortable with on your phone? If you have turned your back on Windows in your desktop and switched to a linux system, as I have, you will likely find a windows system on your phone a source of frustration. If you are totally new to electronic devices, this may not make any great difference to you.

On the other hand, if you are a confirmed Apple fan (like my brother, Ernie), then you will find the best phone for you is an Apple or iphone system.

If you do not understand this talk of operating systems, ask around among your friends, or when you are shopping in a store, or simply do research online, to learn a little about them. Find out what the people you trust would recommend. In fact, if you have a certain friend to whom you will turn whenever your cell phone is doing something weird, then that person's recommendation is probably best for you, as this technical contact of yours needs to understand your system so he/she can quickly solve problems for you.

Hopefully, this knowledgeable techie-friend will teach you how to do much of this trouble-shooting yourself. With time you will cope calmly and coolly with anything that comes up.

Busy Talker and Texter

If you know you'll be on the phone more than the minimum 100 minutes, you need a feature phone. It can have a keyboard for typing, a web browser and some other features including email. But you want to look for a plan that won't make you pay for the features you do not plan to use. The average heavy phone user needs 700 voice minutes, or text minutes per month. You can find the best phone for you with a good 'no-contract deal' for this kind of use. Or, if you take a contract plan, you will usually get free nights and weekends included.

Before you find the best phone for you, there is also the matter of which carrier, or company, will you deal with? Just a few years ago, most of them locked you into a contract for 2 years (USA) or 3 years (Canada). Now most of them allow you to buy the phone upfront, or just pay by the month. Naturally, they will include the pro-rated cost of the device in those monthly payments, unless you already own it.

Consider too, whether one carrier has better coverage in your area than all the others. Ask about voice and data ranges; they may show you a map. All the carriers are working at bringing in 4G LTE networks, (and now that's up to 5G) with Verizon at the head of the pack. Sprint is pushing their idea for a network called Spark, which they hope will accepted widely.

Don't forget to inquire about the battery life of each model. Some need to be charged up daily, others can run for many hours, but then may be out cold because you forgot to charge the phone up.

There are dozens of payment and features plans out there, These will vary from one company to another. If you reject one because someone you know had a bad customer service experience there, it means you will not be getting any of their plans. - But - there are many others. Keep looking.

Physical Handling Tests

By now you should have narrowed down your choices from hundreds of phones to less than 10. To be really thorough, it is good to handle the phones physically. See if they are comfortable in your hand, at your ear, or in your pocket or purse. Are the numbers of the keyboard too small for your fingers? You will only be frustrated many times over if you take such a phone. Even if you plan to order your phone online, you would be smart to go 'just shopping, thanks', in a local store, so you can narrow down your choices, and find the phone best for you, after physically handling them.

Ask a sales assistant about the apps, or programs on the phones. See if you can switch easily in and out of them by using the touch screen or trackball. Is this model too slow for you?

Keep in mind that once you settle on a phone it may become as much a part of you as your forefinger.

Don't Deprive Me of Anything!

Do you really need ALL the features?

If you want to do everything possible with your phone and money is no object, you will find the best phone for you is a fine multimedia smart phone. I've just learned that there are some that combine tablet and phone features - called phablets. These become sutstitutes for your computer, phone, camera - maybe even your own memory?

Then you will want an 'everything included' contract. That gives you 700 talk minutes, 700 text minutes and 400 MB of data per month per line, plus a signature handset. Face the fact that this will cost you hundreds per month. However, you'll be able to do anything on the go, and can brag that you found the best phone for you!

Even if - maybe especially IF you want everything, you should watch for the special promos and deals, usually found only online as web-specials, once you find the best phone for you. Pay attention to phone site specials just before or over a long weekend. You may pickup a steal of a deal that will save you hundreds for the next couple of years!

User Satisfaction

You can always ask your friends and get what they recommend, but what if they haven't tried the best that is out there? Because Consumer Reports has surveyed such a large number of people (58,189), their ratings are helpful. They listed four carriers in the order of user satisfaction. There are more carriers, but these were at the top. Carriers are the companies from which you get your phone use contract.

Verizon - was ahead in almost all the cities in their survey. It has the most satisfied customers.

Sprint - was among the more satisifying in a large majority of USA cities surveyed.

T-Mobile - was among the more satisfying in half the cities surveyed.

AT&T - scored lowest in satisfaction in almost all the cities surveyed and was the worst-rated in other respects.

Consumer Reports goes into more detail to show which models go best with the contracts at each of the above carriers, but I think I'll leave that for you to check into. By going to their site, you may find even more current figures posted.

In fact, any time you need help weighing options before you purchase anything, is the perfect starting point. Or subscribe to their magazine.

Make Your Phone Choice Last Longer

Once you find the best phone for you, you will need to develop good habits that will conserve the battery life and make it last longer for you. Which can cut down on your frustration with your cell phone.

Shut it OFF

If your phone is getting a weak network signal. If you don't need it and aren't expecting an important call, shut it off, and give your phone battery a rest. This applies too, if you have it stashed in a crowded purse or some dense difficult place to catch a call. Keep it where a signal can easily be recieved.

Also turn off your GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 3G, as they suck battery life while they keep connecting, even though you are busy doing other things. Just turn them on when you need them.

If your screen is very bright, you can set it to auto, and it will only be a bright as needed for current conditions. That will save the battery life as well.

If your phone is updating and downloading messages and emails and social media feeds to you continually, not only will it sap your battery but it will interrupt you from whatever you are suppose to be doing and make you less productive. Instead, take charge of YOUR cell phone. You decide what time of the day you are taking calls and responding to them, and what hours you will be busy with your work, or other agenda. You'll be amazed at how much more you get accomplished in a day when you do that!

I wish you the best as you hunt/shop - and find the best phone for you!

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