The time has come to replace my 4-year-old mobile phone and I have some decisions to make. As with any purchase decision, I like to do the research so I am going into it with all the information I need to make the best decision. In this case I had a few decisions to make and I researched them in order. This post is the first of two which discuss my major decision points along the way.
Decision 1 – What type of phone?
To paraphrase Shakespeare…
“to smartphone or not to smartphone, that is the question.”
Indeed, that is the question that anyone buying a mobile phone these days should be asking themselves. Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of cell phone buyers are really asking that question. I see a lot of people buying smartphones without much thought as to whether the enhanced feature set offered by these phones justifies the much higher upfront and ongoing monthly costs.
The line between smartphones and plain old cell phones is pretty blurry, so what is it that determines which category a particular phone falls into? The answer, at least in Canada, is that the carriers make that call. They seem to do it based on the operating system the phone uses. If the phone is an iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Windows Mobile phone, chances are the carrier considers it a smartphone. Otherwise, it is a bit of a crap shoot and you really have to ask them or figure it out on their website.
You may be wondering why it really matters what category the phone falls into? The answer, as I alluded to above, is the upfront and ongoing cost of the phone, with the latter being far more important in my opinion. Essentially, with most carriers in Canada, the monthly fees for cell phones with caller ID, voice mail, free texting, internet browsing, etc. will be about half of the monthly cost for a similar plan with a smartphone. If you are willing to accept a less robust feature set, you can essentially get two cell phones for the same monthly cost as one smartphone. The upfront cost will likely be significantly less as well.
I realize many people the decision between a smartphone vs cell ultimately comes the “cool factor”, but I have decided to make this purchase based on what my requirements really are. I have decided that I will try to find a phone that is on the high end of the cell phone scale, but does not require the more expensive data plan that makes smartphones so much more expensive on a monthly basis.
The question is, what do the Canadian carriers have to offer in regular cell phones that I should consider? Let’s look at my requirements and see what we come up with based on that.
- Touch screen
- Mobile browser
- MP3 / video player
- Qwerty keyboard (software or hardware based)
Nice To Haves
- Sync with Outlook for Contacts and Calendar
- Upgradeable memory
- Camera / camcorder
- Accelerometer (auto flip from portrait to landscape mode when the phone is turned)
- Hardware querty keyboard
- Integrated email app
- Integrated social networking apps
- TV out
- GPS capability
Based on my must have criteria, pretty much every smartphone available would make the list. On the cell phone side, I have put together a short list of phones that seem to fit the bill…
Cell Phone Candidates
- LG Bliss (Bell, Virgin)
- LG New Chocolate (Telus)
- LG Pop (Rogers)
- LG Secret (Rogers)
- LG Versa (Telus)
- LG Xenon (Bell, Fido, Rogers)
- Nokia 5800 (Rogers)
- Samsung Advance (Telus)
- Samsung Impact (Bell)
Decision Result 1 – Let’s Go With a “Dumbphone”
I believe there are enough choices there to get something that meets my needs – no need to pony up for a smartphone. There are probably more choices out there in the “dumbphone” realm that I should consider, but this is a large enough list to start with. In my next post, we’ll narrow the field a little more.