The holidays are right around the corner, and you might be thinking of gifting yourself a new cell phone.  In this issue, we give you some important basics about choosing a phone you won’t be standing in line to return come January.

According to a February 2010 CBS news report, there are more than 4.6 Billion cell phones in use worldwide. To most of us, it seems as if there are at least that many options facing us when we walk into a retailer. It’s overwhelming. And confusing. And the wrong purchase is often a costly mistake. So, take a deep breath and read on. I’m about to simplify the process and (dare I say?) make it enjoyable—just in time for holiday shopping.

STEP 1:  Identify Why You Need It
Before you go gadget shopping, identify the primary functions it needs to perform. Do you simply want a phone? Do you need it for email? Do you want it for on-the-go Internet searches? Are you addicted to Facebook? A big photo and video buff? Do you text as much as your teenagers? Before you walk into a cell phone retailer, consider your needs and wants in the following categories:

  • Phone—connection, call clarity, etc,
  • Email—contacts, calendar, database, etc.
  • Web Browser—quality, speed, etc.
  • Camera—quality, ease-of-use, etc.
  • Social Media—access, speed, etc.
  • Texting—keyboard type and style, contact access, etc.

STEP 2:  Take It For A Test Drive
Now that you’ve identified what you want your phone to do for you, it’s time to see what you can do on it. Many people have their hearts set on an iPhone or BlackBerry before ever using one. Therein lies the mistake. Walk into a retailer and try to type on the BlackBerry. Then do the same thing on an iPhone. Some people have an immediate negative reaction to one or the other. This keyboard test drive can help you narrow your choices significantly.

STEP 3: Ask Around
You’ve identified your needs, potentially eliminated some options based on design, so now you need to ask around. Ask your friends and colleagues who have iPhones, BlackBerrys, Droids, etc. what they like and dislike. Optimalites are split; half of us love BlackBerrys and the other half prefer iPhones. We’ve found that if the quality of call and strength of signal in places not known for ideal reception is paramount, then ATT and the iPhone aren’t your best bets. If call quality and email is important, you want to go with BlackBerry. If you want a phone that does a little of everything, then the iPhone is the clear winner.

STEP 4: Get Specific
Now, you are prepared to walk back into a retailer and talk to a sales associate. Try out different products released by the same company. If you want to stay simple—email, phone and text—try the BlackBerry Bold. If you want to play a little, try the BlackBerry Torch – that will give you the touch screen AND a real keyboard. If you’ve decided on an iPhone, get the new one. The screen is amazing! And, people who use the Droid love it. Although Droids have been slow to catch on in the corporate sphere, their newest release is definitely worth considering.

Last Word
As new companies enter the marketplace, and existing companies release additional products, cell phone shopping is only going to get more confusing. Do your homework. A little preparation can go a long way—and prevent an expensive bad purchase.  Have fun with it and you’ll find your perfect go-to gadget.

Small Cheetah

Optimal Impact contains original content by Heinan Landa.  Permission is granted to copy this article as long as the following information is included: Heinan Landa is CEO of Optimal Networks, an IT support, management, and consulting company that helps technology drive clients’ business goals.  For more information, visit www.optimalnetworks.com or call 240-499-7900.

Have questions about the information contained in this article? Is there a new technology topic you would like to learn more about? Email us at info@optimalnetworks.com. We want to hear from you! Your topic may be covered in an upcoming issue of Optimal Impact.