The Insider: Mobile phones

You’re spoilt for choice when buying a mobile

Mobile phone technology has come a long way over the past 10 years. While they were once heavy, cumbersome and not much use for anything other than making phone calls, today’s newest models are lightweight, sleekly designed, and can do everything from taking pictures to giving you directions.

“Modern mobiles can be used for far more than just making calls,” says Martyn Hocking, the editor of Which? Magazine. “Most now come with a built-in camera and some have music players, internet access and GPS software. But a good handset should get the basics right, too – it should be easy to use, and have decent sound quality, reception levels and battery life.”

With so much choice available, choosing a phone can be quite daunting these days. However, it’s worth doing some research and not just taking the first model that you’re offered in the shop. Although there’s a good chance that you’ll be offered a free phone if you sign up to a contract, you can normally specify which model you’d like. Even if it’s much more expensive, you may not have to pay much, or any, more to get the phone of your choice.

“The amount you pay will depend on whether you opt for a contract or pay-as-you-go tariff,” explains Hocking. “If you take out a contract, your phone will be heavily subsidised by the service provider or may even be free, but you’ll be tied in for 12 to 24 months. If you choose pay as you go, it’s likely to cost at £50 for a mid-range handset, although you can buy a very basic one for around £10.

“Don’t just chuck out your old handset when you get a new one. Most mobile phone networks and shops will recycle your old phone, you can sell it to companies like Mopay and Envirophone, or there are loads of charities that will gladly take it off your hands.”

The first step, when choosing a phone is to consider what functions you want and need. Some phones double up as MP3 players or have built in GPS features – but if you don’t really need these features, then you’re more likely to be able to pick up a cheaper deal.

Remember that if you want a phone that allows you to browse the internet, it’s important to sign up to a package where the data charges are not too steep. If you’re going to be accessing the web on a regular basis from your phone, it’s best to go for a package that includes unlimited browsing.

Once you’ve narrowed down the field by considering what functionality you need, the next factor to consider is battery life. Some phones will last you for no longer than a day without a top-up, while others can keep going for more than 100 hours.

When the consumer group Which? carried out its most recent tests of mobile phones, it ranked the Sony Ericcson W890i Walkman phone as the best on the market. At £230, it’s quite expensive. But Which?’s tests found that it had a great battery life, was easy to use, and produced great sounding music. It also has fast internet access as well as a high quality camera.

For those looking for a slightly cheaper model, however, it’s worth considering the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic, which came second in Which?’s tests, and costs just £80.

You should give the Sony Ericcson T303 a wide berth, however. Although it costs just £40, it’s camera is poor quality, there's not much memory for storing music, and it’s not particularly easy to text with.

Where to buy

Brokers such as phones4u and the Carphone Warehouse often have good deals in store – and may offer free gifts if you sign up to a contract. It’s worth checking their websites too – as they sometimes have web exclusives.

Websites such as onecompare.com and mobilephonecentral.co.uk can also help you compare current offers on contracts and standalone handsets. If you know which network you want to sign up with, it’s also well worth going to them direct – via one of their stores, or via their website.

Five questions to ask...

How long is the battery life? Some phones can keep going for more than 100 hours, while others can barely stay on for a day.

Does it have enough memory? If you want your phone to double up as a music player, you’ll need one that has enough memory to store all of your favourite albums.

Is it 3G? If you want to use video messaging and have fast access to the internet on the move, you’ll need to choose a phone that is 3G compatible.

What kind of pictures does it take? It’s now possible to get phones that take perfect quality pictures. If that’s a priority, you’ll want to go for a phone that has a camera with at least three megapixels.

How big is it? If you’ve got to carry it around with you all day, it’s worth getting a phone that is not too big and not too heavy. But make sure you don’t make too much of a compromise on battery life.

The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For more information visit www.which.co.uk/mobiles or get a guide to the best handsets under £100 in Which? Money, on sale at Sainsbury’s for £2.99. To get three issues of Which? magazine for £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
John Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Technical Support Analyst (C++, Windows, Linux, Perl, Graduate)

    £30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A global leader in trading platforms and e...

    Junior IT Consultant (SQL, Java, C++, Oracle, Graduate)

    £28000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A fast growing consultancy to the financia...

    Technical Support Analyst (Windows, Linux, Unix, Graduate)

    £30000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Support Analyst - Liverpool Stre...

    Juniper Network Engineer - CCNP / JNCIP / JNCIS / Juniper

    £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: One of the world's largest privately owned...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil