Buying a Cell Phone

Cell phones have become essential to daily life, but the variety of products can be overwhelming. This guide to buying a cell phone will help you find the phone that best fits your needs.

Cell Phones 101: How to buy the right cell phone

Today the term “cell phone” refers more to the basic version that’s been around for many years. This type of phone allows you to make voice calls and send text messages but little else — which is fine if that’s all you need. But the traditional cell phone has expanded beyond these functions: known as feature phones, they offer a happy medium between the basic cell phone and the feature-rich smartphone. These models can send emails, play music and even take photos and video. A smartphone is different: it contains an operating system that essentially turns the phone into a mini-computer. With a smartphone you can surf the web, play games, video chat with friends or family and much more. You can also access thousands of online applications (known as apps) for everything from shopping to banking to managing the family budget. Extra features come at a cost, however, so prioritizing your needs is a good first step to making an informed purchase.

Types of Cell Phones



Probably the most widely-known smartphone on the market, the iPhone’s most distinguishing feature is the responsive high-resolution touchscreen: it lets you navigate the phone’s functions and the web just like the mouse or touchpad on your home computer.   Other unique features include the SIRI personal assistant, which responds to your voice, a voice-to-text function for communicating on the go, and the FaceTime option for video-chatting. Wi-Fi, GPS, a camera for shooting stills or video, and integrated audio and video players are standard on all iPhones. The online Apple store has thousands downloadable apps including Bump, which lets you share photos, music, contacts and more by simply bumping your device with another Apple device.

Blackberry Cell Phones

Traditionally more geared toward business people, the Blackberry was easily identified by its integrated QWERTY keyboard. These are still popular with many users, but Blackberry also offers touchscreen models too. Like the iPhone, Blackberry has its own unique operating system, app store and features. These include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, microSD card support and a removable battery. The newest models feature the BlackBerry Hub, a new messaging center that lets you access all of your email, text messages, instant messaging and social networking in one place.

HTC Cell Phones

Formerly a champion of the keypad phone, HTC has shifted their focus toward touchscreen smartphones. The current lineup includes three different models, which ascend in size, features and price. The largest is packed with many different functions and includes the new BlinkFeed home screen. This allows you to build your own personal home screen and populate it with the items most important to you such as Facebook, Twitter, newsfeeds and more. You can also include photos — and with the new HTC Zoe feature you can take up to 20 photos and a 3-second video all in one snap. HTC phones use the Android operating system, which gives you access to thousands of apps via the online Android Market.

Samsung Cell Phones

Samsung makes a full-range of cell phones, feature phones and Android platform smartphones. Their latest smartphone technology includes the new Smart Stay feature: the front-facing camera actually recognizes when you’re looking at your phone — and keeps the display brightly lit. AllShare Cast lets you project your phone’s display wirelessly onto a big screen TV — which is great for playing games. The S Beam feature functions similarly to Apple’s Bump, except you place your phone back-to-back with another to share information.

Cell Phone Buying Tips:

  • Ensure your phone is compatible with your current wireless carrier or pre-paid option
  • Ensure your phone is compatible with the latest/fastest wireless networks in your area
  • Consider battery life if it’s important to stay connected for long periods without recharging
  • Screen size and keyboard type are important considerations for texting and email

Cell Phone Features

Network Compatibility +

LTE is the new gold standard for 4G networks. LTE networks are faster than the older 3G systems, which means you can send and receive more data more quickly. They’re also more reliable, so even if data isn’t a consideration you’ll get fewer dropped calls on the LTE network. Canada’s major wireless carriers now have LTE network coverage in most urban centres, and it’s expanding every month. If you're shopping for a smartphone in the near future then you should check for LTE compatibility.

Camera +

Most cell phones today come equipped with a camera. Some have both front-facing and back-facing cameras for self-portraits. It’s a handy feature for capturing special moments and sharing them with friends — without the extra cost and burden of a separate camera. Some phones have flashes, and resolutions average from two to eight megapixels. More advanced smartphones offer even better features, including focus, zoom and image correction.

Video +

Most cell phones and smartphones with a video player can also record video, whether short video capture or longer movies. Some smartphones can record in HD. Check to see if the video can also be transferred from your phone to computer — some require a cable connection, others can transfer wirelessly.

Music Player +

Most cell phones have a built-in music player so you can take your favourite music with you in the car, during your morning jog or your commute to work. Check to see if an earpiece or headphones are included with the phone, or if you have to purchase them separately. If you love music, make sure the phone has sufficient storage to hold all your favourite songs. Smartphones offer more music functions and storage space than basic cell phones or feature phones.

Storage +

The amount of storage smartphones require is not necessarily increasing despite all the features and functions. The prevalence of cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Microsoft Sky Drive and Drop Box mean an average user can likely get by with 16 gigabytes of storage. That said, many cell phones do have a memory card slot that enables you to save more photos, music or other files.

Bluetooth +

Bluetooth is a technology that allows for the wireless transfer of data between devices, two cell phones, or a cell phone and computer. It makes it easy for you to transfer your music, photos or other files to your computer or to friends. It also enables wireless headsets for hands-free use of your phone in the car.

Voice Dialling +

Voice-enabled dialing is an important feature if you use your cell phone with a headset while driving, or if you’re working with your hands, carrying groceries or cradling baby. Once you’ve programmed in your contacts, the phone recognizes the person or place you want to call and does the dialing while you keep your hands on the wheel.

Wi-Fi +

Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones can connect wirelessly to the internet through your home network or through the ever-increasing availability of Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces such as restaurants or your favourite coffee shop. If you are unsure of your mobile carrier’s roaming policy, turn roaming off and just use the internet when Wi-Fi is available.

Games +

Some cell phones allow you to download game apps, which is a desirable feature for long commutes, spending time in waiting rooms and for keeping younger family members occupied during trips. Whether you’re looking for brain games to help you stay sharp or games simply for fun, there is a wide variety of free and paid games available for download.

Battery +

Cell phones come with a rechargeable battery and charger. The life of your battery depends on how many hours you are using your phone and what you are using it for. Apps that demand a lot of screen activity will drain your battery faster than ones that function in the background.

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Cell Phone Maintenance Tips

  • Protect your cell phone with a case
  • Protect it from dirt and sand
  • Keep your cell phone dry and away from liquids
  • Keep your phone out of direct sunlight and protect it from extreme heat and cold
  • Clean your cell phone by dabbing a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and using it to lightly wipe the keypad

Did you know?

Don’t drain your cell phone battery or leave it on charge for more than 12 hours at home or one hour in the car.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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