Patrick King, Contributed
More than a lifestyle choice or added luxury, mobile phones have become a big part of how we function on a day-to-day basis. Staying in touch is critical to the decisions that we make both from a personal and a business perspective. Getting the right cellphone is, therefore, very important. And now during the holiday season, many see the cellphone as the perfect gift for themselves or their loved ones. But how do you go about choosing the right cellphone amid the plethora of options out there?
Here are a few simple questions you can ask yourself before you make that purchase:
1 What do you use it for? If all you do is talk and text, then you may not need a smartphone. There are several low-end phones that do those things very well without needing the data that powers the smartphone's sophisticated functions. You'll avoid the heavier battery use of the smartphone. The low-end handset can go for days without being recharged, while smartphones often need a daily energy refill. Any number of what Jamaicans call 'peanut' phone handsets can do the job for you. These include the Nokia 100 and the Samsung E 1205.
Some of them are actually pretty cool. As with their smartphone brothers, they can be used as alarm clocks and appointment schedulers. Some have FM radios built in and, in some cases, they can use Bluetooth earpieces.
Still, messaging and monitoring your email require a step up. Messaging with BlackBerry and programmes like WhatsApp and email access requires data services and Internet access. There are dozens of smartphones that can do this job without breaking your Christmas shopping budget. Such phones can usually facilitate posting to Facebook and Twitter and taking photographs, but the search for the better cameras might make you move upmarket.
There are dozens of phones in this mid-range, and as technology improves, there's a thin line between them and the high-end ones. However, among the mid-range phones often seen in Jamaica are the BlackBerry Bold and the Samsung Mini S3. A recent entry into this segment of the market is Digicel's snazzy new DL 700. It's an easy-to-use touch-screen phone with a powerful 5MP camera and 4-inch display all on the Android 4.2 operating system.
High-end phones tend to be a little bigger. That's because they contain all the technological wizardry you could imagine and typically have the memory to process all your needs at lightning speeds. Speed costs money. They're the best for playing video games, and for live streaming of broadcast material. In this end of the market, the most seen instrument is the Samsung S4, with the BlackBerry Z10 also often in plain view these days.
2 Where do you use it? Choose a phone with a screen you can see under most conditions. Some come backlit, so nighttime vision is easier and with special screens to minimise glare. Those of you who are outdoors a lot might want something a bit sturdier. Investing in a protective case is probably a good idea as well.
Normally, water is death to mobile phones, but there are some new ones that are waterproof. They cost a pretty penny, but if you must have it, then you must.
3Do you own and use other mobile devices? If you plan to do lots of written work on your mobile phone, perhaps, an actual keyboard might suit you better. If not, the far more common touch screen virtual keyboard is probably your preference. Of course, for more lengthy writing projects, a laptop, notebook or tablet is more ideal.
In a nutshell, don't fly blind when you're buying a mobile phone. If you can't answer all the questions yourself, ask for advice and buy the phone that fits your needs. All Digicel stores are equipped at smartphone geniuses who can help you to understand each device as well as transfer all your data. You'll have it for a while, so make sure it suits your lifestyle, your sense of style and budget. So honestly answer the questions above and choose wisely.
Patrick King is Digicel's distribution director.
A smartphone with all the data capabilities might not be the best option for you.