Tips for Buying a Smart Phone
Use these tips from ConsumerReports.org to help you choose the right smart phone. ConsumerReports.org is the country’s unionized provider of buying information for consumers.
The following buying information is provided courtesy of ConsumerReports.org. Use it to find the right smart phone for you or your student headed back to school.
Shape and size: Phones that fold, slide, or swivel are typically more compact when closed. Phones shaped like candy bars can be used without being opened. The best choice depends largely on personal preference, so visit a store and hold the phone in your hand to see what works for you.
Display: Most screens are fine in dim and normal light, but some are harder to see in daylight or under bright light. Try the phone outside or under bright light.
Keyboard: A phone's shape and size are largely determined by its keyboard and display. Some models have a QWERTY keyboard that slides out from behind the phone, then tucks away. Others open like an eyeglass case to reveal a keyboard, or leave the keyboard in plain sight. Still other models have a virtual keyboard on their touch-sensitive displays.
If you do a lot of typing, look for a keyboard with keys that are clearly labeled, well spaced, and well sized. Make sure the keys provide solid tactile or vibration feedback. Most importantly, try it before you buy it.
Operating system: Smart phones all share the ability to browse the Web and run apps (Web applications), handle e-mail, multitask, and facilitate social networking. But how easily and how well you can do those tasks varies by operating system (OS). Apps, which can be downloaded by the smart-phone user, vary widely in number, variety, and price, according to the operating system. Many apps are free, others cost a buck or two, and some go for hundreds of dollars. Leading operating systems include the Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Palm webOS, and Windows Phone.
Data plan: Using a phone's extra, network-dependent capabilities requires a regular (voice/text) phone plan and a data plan for Web surfing and sending and receiving e-mail. Depending on the carrier, prices for the two combined start at $45 to $80 a month with a two-year contract. But you can easily spend much more than that as you add minutes, messaging, and other services.
Union Plus Savings: Union members can save 15% with AT&T wireless service on select data & phone plans from the ONLY national unionized wireless provider.
And if you have a Union Plus Credit Card, you can upgrade to a smartphone and data plan with AT&T and receive a rebate up to $100.
Syncing options: Syncing your phone with your computer has some advantages. For example, it’s easier to update calendar events and contact data using your computer's larger keyboard and display. All your documents and personal data also will be safely backed up should your phone be lost or stolen. Before you buy, check with the carrier or phone maker to make sure the phone you’re buying is compatible with your computer or its operating system.
Phone insurance: Cell carriers will insure your phone for $4 to $8 a month with a deductible of $25 to $100 or more. But they may replace your lost, stolen, or damaged phone with a repaired, refurbished one. Only 17% of buyers polled got a new phone because the old one broke, and only 3% because the phone was lost or stolen. Here’s a better idea. Keep your old phone until the new phone's contract ends. If you lose or break the new phone, reactivate the old one and use it until you qualify for a free or low-cost phone.
Want to receive Union Plus text alerts on your smartphone? Text UNION to 22555 for consumer tips and benefit updates.