- What will you use the phone for? If you only want to use your phone for calling and texting, a conventional cellphone probably will work. But if you're looking for extra features—such as Web access, downloadable applications, and video or audio capabilities—a smartphone might be a better bet. Before you decide on a phone, make sure you're comfortable using it. Consider the size, shape, and the ease of using the keypad to make calls or send texts.
- Where will you have service? Can you make calls locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally? Is there a trial period so you can "test drive" the phone's service quality once you leave the store?
- What plan features are available? Decide how you want to pay: monthly for a set number of minutes, or pay-as-you-go. Both options may not be available for all phone models. If you're interested in a family-plan option, make sure it's also available for the phone you want. Understand other costs, such as data-plan fees and cancellation policies, before you sign up. Be sure to ask about special promotions that could help you get a deal. And don't be sweet-talked into purchasing phone insurance—it's often not worth the extra expense.
SOURCE: Federal Citizen Information Center
Published September 6, 2010