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Buyers Guide: Mobile Phones

When mobile phones started to become popular in the nineties, it was hard to see them progressing as far as they have so quickly. But with the likes of the Apple iPhone being first class mini computers, and more people owning mobiles than tooth brushes worldwide, it’s safe to say they’re here to stay.

But while some hanker for the latest Samsung, Sony or HTC smartphone others are more than happy with the little Nokia or Motorola handset they’ve had for years. So where should you start when you compare mobile phones?

Contracts, prepay and SIM free mobile phones

Before we go any further, a few words on how you can pay for your mobile phone. Here at Crowdstorm you’ll find SIM free mobile phones; perfect for the person who’s happy to pay up front for the hardware, then either continue with their contract or go for a more flexible pay-as-you-go deal.

These deals are great if you have the money for your mobile phone in your pocket. However, if you’d rather have the cost of your handset spread over a long and binding contract you’re better off heading to a site such as Broadband Genie where you can compare smartphone contracts.

Finding the best mobile phone

When looking at Crowdstorm’s selection of SIM free mobile phone deals, UK handsets can cost you less than £100 or well over £500, depending on the feature set you’re looking for. So why the huge range of prices? Hopefully this will help you with your comparison:

  • Feature phones or smartphones: Your old Nokia was a feature phone; that fancy iPhone is a smartphone. The basic difference is the operating system: if it has the ability to run third party applications (via an OS such as Android, iOS, Windows or blackberry) it’s almost certainly a smartphone.
  • Screen size: Most smartphones have a large ‘touchscreen’ with which to access all those cool apps, s well as using a virtual keyboard (instead of regular buttons). A larger screen is better for web browsing too, as well as watching video clips etc. However, you need to be sure that the mobile phone is still comfortable in your palm – so try in a store, then find a bargain online.
  • Camera: While the majority of mobile phones now have a camera, they’re certainly not created equal. Poor quality mobile phone cameras will be below three-megapixel and be low on features; at the top end expect an eight-megapixel or more snapper alongside flash, face detection, autofocus and optical zoom capabilities.
  • Connectivity: In a nutshell – HSDPA is a minimum requirement; 3G will speed up your internet access; GPS will let you geo-tag images and use sat nav; Wi-Fi will let you use hotspots and wireless modems to access the internet; while 4G will give you access to superfast mobile broadband once it becomes the UK standard – hopefully in 2013, but probably later.
  • MP3 player/radio: If your mobile phone doesn’t have an MP3 player, you won’t be using it listen to music you’ve downloaded – although if it has a built in radio, at least you won’t be in total silence!
  • Design: A ‘regular’ mobile phone is your basic ‘candybar’ rectangular shape. You’ll also find ‘slide’ devices, where the screen hides a full keyboard or keypad; and flip up phones which are largely plain on the outside but that can be flipped open to reveal both a screen and keypad.
  • Storage capacity: This is important if you want to store music and even TV clips and films on your mobile phone. Cheap handsets will have a tiny amount of MBs available storage, enough for just a few photos, while top-end smartphones have 64GB – enough for several TV series!

Mobile phone deals

There’s no such thing as the best mobile phone deals; what you need is the best deal on the right handset for your needs. But which mobile phone should you buy?

As we’ve alluded to above, there’s an awful lot to choose from – including a host of features and manufacturers. Your real friend here is time – and the amount if it you put into research.

The best mobile phone deals are often on handsets that are a little older – so not this week’s hot new model – but that have stood the test of time. 

Look for mobile phone reviews over a long period, both from journalists and users, to make sure the mobile you want wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan but rather a proven and reliable model.

Good recent examples of this have been the Samsung Galaxy and HTC Desire; mobile phones you still see used everywhere and that can handle apps and all the rest, but are super cheap compared to the latest crop of pretenders.

Cheap mobile phone deals

While you can get great deals on smartphones, the cheapest mobile phone offers are going to be on those basic feature phones. However, you’ll be surprised what you can get for less than £100 these days.

When it come to buying a mobile phone, UK sellers are listing low-end smartphones at well under this and while they may not take the best photo or store much data, they’ll certainly perform some pretty impressive functions.

Budget Android smartphones regularly come with a camera, social networking (Facebook, Twitter etc) Wi-Fi, plus all those apps such as Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies. The screen might not be the sharpest, but at these prices it’s hard to complain.

What to do next

Once you’ve found the mobile phone deal for you, it couldn’t be simpler: just click through to the retailer of your choice and complete the purchase. Good luck with your new mobile phone!