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How To Pick Your New Cell Phone Service

A friend and I recently had a discussion on which cellular phone company he should choose when he buys his first cell phone. (Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe, but he puts the “it” in “luddite.”) Why do I mention this? Because in choosing which phone you should buy now to replace your old one, you should be looking at the same things as a person who is buying their first phone.

Step 1

First of all, I’m going to assume that we have all had different experiences with the customer service from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and any other company you could think of. You know the ones that tick you off, so go ahead and eliminate them before even investigating further. If you’ve never had any bad customer service (do you even use your phone?) then you’re ready to consider all of the companies in the next category. (For me, the evil empire is AT&T. I just wait for Darth Vader to choke me every time I open my mouth and call customer service.)

Step 2

Skull phone

Skull phone

The first step should be examining a detailed coverage map for each company you’re considering. Answer these questions: Is your house covered? What about your girlfriend’s house? What about the route you take to and from work? Have you had any problems with your current carrier at any of your hangouts? Have any of your friends had the same issues with different carriers? Do their cell towers come disguised as trees or do they come disguised as giant totem poles?

Step 3

Next step is considering how you plan to use your phone. Is it for calling people? Are you mostly texting? Do you want to be able to access the internet anywhere? Do you plan to use it while traveling abroad? Do you call landlines or other mobile phones? When is Aunt Judy going to finally buy a cell phone? All these questions lead into the next step, which is choosing the plan that best fits your needs at the lowest cost. To make sure that what you think you want matches what you currently are doing, look at your past few bills. How many minutes do you use per month? How many texts do you send? What time of the day do you do your calling? Will you ever stop calling 900 numbers? Once you figure out your usage patterns, then you can find the best deal for what you want.

Step 4

Ok, so, now you have all that out of the way, you can focus on phone features. Do you want to be able to take crappy pictures of Uncle George? Would you prefer that your phone take great pictures of that deer you barely see in the distance? Should it play all of your music for you? Do you want a touch screen keyboard? Would you prefer a mini keyboard? What about a keyboard cat?

Step 5

After those few questions, you should have an idea of what you are looking to buy. For me, I don’t talk on the phone too much, I send a few texts here and there and I want to have access to the internet while away from my laptop. Here are the choices that I have found to be best suited for my needs:

1. At the top of my list is the iPhone. Yes, I live in Los Angeles and it seems like every Apple friendly person in the world lives here and therefore everyone I know has an iPhone, so I may be just suffering from iPhone envy. I hear they drop calls all the time. I hear they don’t work great as a phone. But, everyone I know that has one wouldn’t give it up for the world. I know I’m happy to have an iPhone friend around every time I wonder who stars in Starz’ “Party Down.” (The answer is Lizzy Caplan. Yes, the guys are awesome and funny, but Lizzy is always the answer.) Plus, 32 GB of storage means a lot of tunes and podcasts for long road trips. Since I don’t need much of a phone, it seems to be a perfect fit.

2. As soon as I write all of that, it’s tough to move on to the Droid Incredible, which comes out this week. All the reviews love it, it works well as a phone, has an eight mega pixel camera, is blazing fast for the internet, and has 8GB of storage (which would still be sufficient for songs, once you download a third-party app). So, it’s great, just not an iPhone. However, it will allow me to avoid working with AT&T, which is a big plus in my book.

3. Then, the spendthrift inside of me grabs a hold and says; I still think I can get by using my Motorola RAZR. I won’t have to spend all of that money getting internet access. Really, it isn’t that important to me. Stop tempting me iPhone!

Which brings an end to my search. If I can get past the idea of AT&T, I will go with the iPhone. If I can’t, I’ll go with the Incredible. If I decide to be cheap, I’ll stay with my RAZR.

For more info, check out all the detailed reviews on CNET which can pair you with the phones offered by the carrier and plan you’ve chosen above. Because, without all of the rest, (cost, plan, coverage, uses) how would you begin to know what to buy? Then, hopefully, you’ll get farther than me.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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