SIM Free Mobile Phone Handsets

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Buying guide - Mobile phones (smart phones)


If all you care about is making phone calls, you can choose from a huge range of 'normal' mobile phones. These are a lot cheaper than smart phones, have better battery life, and are very simple to operate. Some mobile phones have additional features, such as basic web browsing and email clients, but they're best at making calls and texting. For most lady using mobile phonepeople however, mobile phones are much more than just phones. Mobile phones are also gaming consoles and music players, with internet access, a camera and a personal organiser thrown in. The latest smart phones with their touch screen displays are more like portable computers than phones.

Think of mobile phones and the chances are you'll think of the iPhone, and for good reason. The latest model, the iPhone 4s, is one of the best mobile phones on the market, with a high resolution display that's perfect for web browsing. It's a stunningly good media player, too. With the Apple App Store you can download new applications simply, ranging from the latest fun games to tourist guides. It's fairly expensive, though, and other smart phones cost less.

The competition

Google's Android operating system is freely available for anyone to use, so there's a wide variety of Android mobile phones on the market. Most have a touch screen interface, but there are some with keyboards. As with the iPhone, you can play music and videos, and download new applications, but make sure your mobile phone runs Android 2.1 or better, as older versions aren't compatible with everything.

BlackBerry devices are known for their excellent integrated email and most come with dedicated keyboards that make replying to emails incredibly simple. However, they're not all just about work. The BlackBerry Torch is one of the new breed of touch screen phones that adds a bit of style to the line-up. With the BlackBerry App World, you can download new applications, although there are fewer available than on the iPhone and Android.

Windows Phone 7
Microsoft's latest smart phone operating system is available on many different mobile phones. All are fairly high-end devices, but that means you can expect superb performance. Obvious advantages are that it integrates neatly with your PC. Android and iPhone might be better options at the moment, but Windows Phone 7 is a slick and smooth experience

What to look for

Operating system
The O/S you find on mobile phones is important as it defines what you can and can't run on it. Each of the mobile smartphonephones we've talked about has its own operating system so pick the one that suits your needs the most.

Screen resolution
The resolution of a screen tells you how sharp the image is. For the absolute minimum on a smart phone go for 240x320 pixels; however 480x800 or higher means you'll be able to view websites more easily.

The memory defines how many pictures, music files, videos and applications you can have on your mobile phone. A minimum of 2GB should be available. If you can't expand the memory with a memory card, look for one with 8GB or 16GB.

Touch screen
If you want the biggest screen space available, touch screen phones are the way to go, as no space is wasted by having a keypad. It also makes browsing the web much easier.

If you want to enter a lot of text, such as emails, a keyboard is the way to go. These can either be prominently on top, reducing the screen size, or a slide-out variety.

Extra features

While you can use 3G to download data on mobile phones wherever you are, your connection will be relatively slow with a download cap. With Wi-Fi you can use your home broadband connection from your mobile phone for faster downloads.

Want to know where you are and use applications like Google Maps or Satnav? You need a mobile phone with a GPS receiver in it.

Battery life
How long your mobile phone can last on battery power is essential, as it'll spend all of its time with you. Mobile phones always have two figures for battery life: standby time is the amount of time the battery will last if the phone's on but not being used; talk time is how long it will last making calls. In reality smart phones will have to be charged daily.

If you need to capture a precious moment when you're out and about, a phone's camera is essential. For the best quality look for a mobile phone with an LED flash and 5-megapixel sensor. For video, look for a minimum recording resolution of 640x480 pixels, but for the best quality go for mobile phones that can shoot HD video.


Memory cards
If you need to expand your storage, you can do so on most mobile phones by adding a memory card. Check your phone's specifications to see what it supports, but most use the Micro SD format.

If you've got an expensive smart phone you should protect it with a case. Every phone has a unique case to fit it exactly. Look to get a clear stick-on screen protector to prevent scratches from ruining the touch screen.

Most smart phones come with a poor set of headphones; to make music more comfortable and to protect your hearing by being able to listen at lower volumes, invest in a decent set of in-ear earphones or regular headphones.

Hands-free kit
Make and receive calls hands-free with a Bluetooth hands-free kit. If you drive a lot, look for a model that hooks into your car's cigarette lighter.

Need a boost when you're out and about? Battery packs can be carried with you everywhere you go, so you can charge your mobile phone even when there are no power sockets around.