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Purchasing options for mobile phones

Mobile phones have the most power, the highest image resolution, the most pixel-rich screens, the highest memory capacity, the fastest processors and WiFi. They run mobile operating systems and support downloadable applications. New smartphones with bigger screens also come with a bigger price tag.

Jefferson MemorialPeople shop for mobile phones to take pictures of famous landmarks like the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Messaging or feature phones offer many of the same capabilities as smartphones. However, these devices run proprietary software applications instead of having popular mobile operating systems. Many of the features of these phones are for text messaging and emails. 

Basic handsets are available for those who want a cell phone primarily for voice communication phone calls. These individuals aren’t interested in purchasing a device to view full desktop-quality Web pages or running software applications. Basic phones are typically lighter and smaller than feature phones and smartphones.

What do I need to run apps on my mobile phone?    

Choosing an operating system is important when it comes to running any software applications you select for your device. There are four main smartphone operating systems. These are Google Android, Windows Phone, Apple iOS and Blackberry OS. Downloadable software applications or apps add new features to your device. Examples include news apps, business apps, game apps or food apps. Each operating system has its own app store. All smartphones also come equipped with a mapping service and GPS receiver to help the owner navigate through various routes.

Mobile phones and people at a mall.People use mobile phones wherever they go.

What are my choices when it comes to mobile phone service providers?

There are four major national carriers. These are AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Each of these four major carriers offers nationwide coverage and the latest 4G wireless technology. There might be some smaller carriers. However, choosing the one that is best for you depend upon which one will offer you the best coverage.  Another factor is how much you are willing to pay.

 A prepaid plan is another option to consider. In this case, you would pay the full retail price for your smartphone device. Then you would obtain a prepaid service. Prepaid service plan options include Virgin, Straight Talk, Boost Mobile, AIO and others. These prepaid services will provide almost the same domestic service as the postpaid carriers at about half the price.

Mobile phones and people drinking Starbucks coffee.People using their mobile phones while enjoying a cup of coffee.

On-contract payment has been around for many years. The way it works is that a consumer signs up for a new two-year contract with a carrier and then receives a new phone at a discounted price. If you are looking for the cheapest  deals, this is the way to purchase a new phone while paying off the cost through the length of the carrier’s contract.

The second most common way to purchase a new smartphone is to pay the full retail price of the phone. This is a way to avoid the contract subsidy if you don’t want to a sign a two-year contract or you are not eligible to sign a new contract at the time of purchase. Buying a mobile device this way is expensive. This method allows you to choose your carrier because your device is not locked in to a specific carrier plan. These smartphones may be purchased directly from the manufacturer, from one of many third-party resellers or from Amazon.

Mobile phones and people shopping in a mall.People taking a mobile phone break from shopping.

Another way to purchase a smartphone is to buy one that has been previously used one on Ebay, Craigslist or another retail outlet. Another owner may have used the device for only three months. Carrier payment plans are a new option to purchase a mobile device. You pay a discounted price at the retail outlet and then pay an additional monthly fee on top of the service rate to pay off the full purchase price of the smartphone.

Communication Mobile Network