Smartphones connect users with many of the functions of a laptop computer, including access to calendar functions, email and web surfing. In addition, most smartphones have access to hundreds of thousands of applications.
Google's Android operating system has grown in popularity and is now available on hundreds of smartphones on all major carriers. In early 2013, Android use outpaced iPhone use for the first time. Prices vary, but phones typically cost $50 -$200. Refurbished models are often available for less.
Apple's iPhone is a top choice among consumers, and some older models are available for free. Newer models cost $99-$399, depending on capacity. The iPhone has been considered a benchmark for sleek and innovative design. The device is available at AT&T, Sprint and Verizon stores. Refurbished models are available for as little as $0.01 with a two-year contract.
BlackBerry, manufactured by Research in Motion, offers smartphones with both traditional and touch-screen keyboards. BlackBerry's mobile e-mail functionality offers a physical keyboard that's well-suited for copious amounts of typing. Blackberry models are available through all major carriers for $49 -$199 or more.
Windows Mobile phones with Microsoft operating systems phones available on AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless for free to about $100. These phones are popular with consumers looking for portable versions of Microsoft-based PCs.
Prepaid smartphones are available from service providers including Net10, TracFone and Virgin Mobile. Typically, prepaid smartphones cost $40 -$500, depending on the model, and $20 -$60 for service plans. Data plans are sometimes charged extra and cost $20 -$30. For example, Net10 has a variety of smartphones for $50-$500.
What should be included:
Smartphones currently use either 3G or 4G connectivity, which means high-speed Internet capabilities including email access, social media tools and web browsing.
Most smart phones have the ability to synchronize with a PC or Mac (for data backup or transferring music files), a high-resolution display screen, a camera with at least 3 megapixels, an MP3 player, and a video camera.
Most smartphones have access to an app store with hundreds of thousands of free and paid applications. Typically, smartphones come with a variety of pre-installed apps that access social media sites, web streaming videos or music, current weather conditions or cloud storage.
Smartphone generally come with a charger and a USB cable.
A two-year contract with the device's designated service provider is required for activation of most smartphones. Cell phone service plans vary in cost depending on minutes covered, data usage, and texting and navigation functions. For more information, read How Much Does a Cell Phone Plan Cost.
Smartphone accessories include vehicle chargers ($20 -$25), screen protectors ($2 -$20), and hard- or soft-shell cases ($20-$70). A Bluetooth headset is useful in complying with hands-free driving laws and typically cost $10-$200.
Apps offered through various providers start at about $0.99. Many of the apps are free to try.
Insurance coverage on smartphones is typically $10 per month and generally covers lost, stolen or damages phones. Payment of a deductible may be required to replace a phone, but it's usually less expensive than paying retail for a phone.
Some wireless carriers offer discounts on older-model phones or refurbished units. For example, new iPhone 4 models are free or $0.01 through AT&T and Verizon with a two-year contract.
Shopping for a smartphone:
a virtual touchscreen keyboard or the physical QWERTY variety.
Top-ranked phones will connect via Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G for faster browsing speeds.
Smartphones radiation is a rising concern among consumers. CNET provides an explanation of cell phone radiation exposure. Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization, studied exposure from more than 1,000 phones on the market and produced lists of the best and worst as well as an online guide detailing radiation emissions from cell phones.
Posted by: lovin my first smartphone in Sunnyvale, CA.
Posted: May 24th, 2010 02:05AM
: HTC Incredible
Store: Small Verizon Shop
I had been interested in Google phones for a while, and after Android 2.1 came out with the voice-to-text and turn-by-turn-GPS-navigation w/spoken directions, and it become available on Verizon with the Incredible, I decided the technology had gotten to the point where it was finally time to upgrade to a smartphone! I was worried, though, that I wouldn't get the discount on the phone -- I was less than 2 years into my contact, and the www.verizonwireless.com website told me I'd have to pay full price ($550)! But I stopped by my local small Verizon store in a mall, and they told me because I didn't currently have a data plan and was adding that, I'd get the $350 discount on the phone! Plus, they charged me taxes on only the after-rebate price! sweet! So it pays to double-check the deals at a local store -- plus I've found the small mom and pop Verizon stores have way better service than the corporate-owned mega shops (which always take way too long and feel like a car sales lot)