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Going Mobile, Part 3: Finding 'Perfect' Wireless Phone by Donna Schwartz Mills < http://ld.net/?americanglo >
So you've done your homework: You have a clear idea of how and where you'll be using your phone. You know how many "any time" minutes you need and have selected a carrier who covers region you'll be in most often. It's time to go shopping for your handset; your telephone which will likely be a part of your workspace for next year or two.
Your new carrier may offer you a free or discounted phone with your contract. This may be all you want or need. After all, today's free phones have all features that were sexy and new two years ago... and that may be enough. Then again... if you want latest and greatest, you may want to look into an upgrade.
Wireless phone companies heavily subsidize cost of handsets, especially to their new customers. This can result in a significant discount -- sometimes as much as a couple of hundred dollars off retail cost of a new phone. So question is -- what features do you need or want? And before you can respond to that, you need to know what is possible. The answer might amaze you.
There are people out there who feel they MUST have very best in wireless phone products. These folks flock to a site called PhoneScoop, which carries wireless telephone news and reviews of models on market -- some of which have yet to hit U.S. shores. Check out their "Phone Finder" to select a model that's right for you:
< http://www.phonescoop.com/phones/finder.php >
Among variables they'll ask you about are easy ones, like weight, antenna type and style (flip, folder, slide, etc.) But then list of possibilities is dizzying:
* Will you be traveling outside country? Then you might need World Roaming.
* Most wireless phones have some address book capacity. Others also have alarms, calendars, calculators and other organizing functions and may serve as a substitute for a PDA. (Hey, there are even hybrids that run on Palm OS or Windows CE)
* You will soon be hearing a lot about Bluetooth - this is a technology that enables electronic devices (like computers, PDA's, telephones) to work together as a wireless network. You may not be using it now - but some of hottest phones have it built in... so when you do, you'll be ready.
* Say "Cheese!" One wireless carrier has been putting a lot of money advertising their new "Vision" function, allowing you to send digital photos through your wireless telephone. Of course, you need a special handset for this. And while at this writing, phones on market do not include digital camera you need, there are some waiting in wings.
* Lots of wireless users have fun customizing their phones with colorful faceplates and different ringtones. But not all phones allow you to do this -- if you want yours to play theme from Spongebob Squarepants when it rings, you'll need a phone that has this feature enabled. Some even have ringtones that are "polyphonic," which means that they can simulate sound of up to 40 different instruments.
* If you spend a lot of time away from your home office, data capability may be a real convenience. Check email, surf web -- some phones will even allow you to receive faxes on go.
* Do you do a lot of purchasing by phone? You may benefit from security of a built-in "digital wallet."
* Some phones have a GPS (global satellite positioning) feature, which means that an emergency call to 911 could give operator your exact location. A definite plus for those concerned with security issues.
* While we do not advocate talking on your wireless while driving, we recognize that people will do so as long as it's legal. You can at least minimize your risks by selecting a phone with some hands-free options, like a headset jack or speaker and voice dialing.
* SMS and MMS are systems for sending and receiving text messages. MMS is a more advanced system found in some of newer Nokia phones -- in addition to text, you can send graphics, photos and audio clips.