How to choose the right mobile phone.

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Some useful pointers to help you make the right choice when considering buying or upgrading your mobile phone.

his guide aims to help you to in your search for a mobile phone. I will cover a few different topics and hope that by the end of this article, the world of mobile phones is a little clearer.

The mobile phone market is incredibly fast moving. As such, many of the things I say in this article will have little relevance in 12 months time. With this in mind, I will hope to cover mobile phones in such a way as to minimise this possibility. I will discuss many of the factors you may wish to consider when making a purchase decision. Of course, the decision is very much yours, but who knows, perhaps I will cover something below that you havent considered.

Cameras
Almost every phone now comes packaged with a camera included. The quality of these cameras vary wildly from a very simple flash free 1.3 mega pixel lens to a ten mega pixel camera with high definition video recording. As well as using these cameras for taking photos and recording videos, they also offer functionality in many different ways. Phones with an internet connection for example, can often use on board cameras with communication software such as Skype to make free internet phonecalls. A camera can also often be used as a bar code scanner.

Internal memory
It is now commonplace for mobile phones to include a media player. This feature allows you to watch videos and listen to music on the go. While this feature can be very useful it is somewhat reliant on two other factors. Firstly, and most importantly, the phone will require memory for you to store your data on. This is another factor that varies significantly. Basic phones may come with 128mb storage or less while others can include up to 32Gb of storage. In addition to on board storage, many phones allow for the amount of storage to be increased by the addition of a microSD card. It is now possible to purchase microSD cards up to 32Gb, which can prove very useful when looking to carry media on the go. The second factor is battery life which I will mention briefly now.

Battery life
With phones becoming much thinner and more highly powered, battery life is often compromised. Yes, battery technology has advanced somewhat, but, if you are using your phone to play video you will see its battery life reduce at a very fast rate. When a manufacturer offers a battery length it is usually calculated from when a phone is set to its standby mode where only simple processes are carried out. The figure will be significantly higher than when you use the phones more energy sapping features. Something to look out for.

Operating systems
This paragraph relates to smartphones such as the iPhone. If you are spending a small amount on your phone this section may not apply. Most new phones issued with a contract however are now smartphones. There are perhaps three main branches of operating system. iOS from Apple, Android from Google and Windows Mobile 7 from Microsoft. Each operating system is updated regularly and new features are added all the time. Be sure to ask which operating system is installed on the phone youre looking to buy and do some research. Obviously, there is no better research than trying the handset yourself but it may also be useful to know if you would have access to new improved versions of the operating system for free. If not it may be worth your while waiting until the next version is provided with the handset you are looking for before purchasing. With a specific note towards those looking to buy an iPhone, they are compatible with iTunes which, if you already have an iPod, may make organising your media relatively easy in comparison to using handsets from other manufacturers.

Manufacturer
In many ways, the manufacturer of the mobile phone is becoming less and less important as more and more focus is leveled at the operating system. Having said that, manufacturers such as Nokia, HTC and Samsung are worth more of a look than the other, less well known, brands. Again, look for consumer reviews and go to a store to hold the phone itself. Many handsets are made by dedicated manufacturers seperate to the name on the box. Two phones with different manufacturer names on may have been produced by the same company. Consider the after sales service, but if your phone is provided on contract, your service provider will probably be the first point of call, especially if you have taken out an insurance policy on the handset (which I would advise if the handset is several hundred pounds to replace).

Extra functionality
The world of Apps is constantly expanding. Each operating system is now linked to an app store where programs offering extra functionality are sold. Some are free but supported by advertisements where others charge for the service. A huge range of innovative applications are currently on sale, most of which use the internet. Expect to find games, navigation systems, utilities, reference services and company specific apps that allow you to check bookings or accounts directly from your phone.

Whichever handset you decide on I hope that what I have talked about helps you with regards to what to look for and what you can expect.

James Morton