Buying a cellphone, despite all the options for models and stylish cases, is no easy task. Endless questions crop up about calling plans, data plans, voice mail and insurance.
Getting a new phone may be a task that happens more often than you like – 1 in 3 smartphones are damaged within the first year of purchase.
So how can you make sure you’re making the best decisions?
Comparison shop. Surf the Web and read customer reviews to determine what features are priorities for you and what phone delivers on them. There’s no sense in buying a more costly device with features you’ll never use. Some manufacturers offer rebates, which can significantly lower the cost of your new phone.
Know yourself. Will you be using your phone for everything? Do you make a lot of calls? Are you a big texter, media streamer or Web surfer? Know your needs. If your voice minutes and data plan are limited, you may end up incurring additional fees. Find out what free apps can help cut down on extra costs and honestly assess your communication needs before you commit to a plan.
Get protection. While manufacturers’ warranties cover malfunctions for reasons beyond the user’s control, the reality is that accidents are just waiting to happen. From short-circuiting in the pool to shattering on the sidewalk, you’ll be stuck paying big bucks if your phone breaks without a protection plan. But costly insurance through your mobile carrier is what makes many consumers balk at the idea of insuring their devices. On average, a consumer pays $10 or more monthly with deductibles of $175 or more.
There are more sensible options out there. For example, SquareTrade offers $5-a-month protection plans with a $75 deductible . For Apple devices, look into Applecare.
Take precautions. Even with a protection plan, you can avoid the hassle of a malfunctioning phone with a bit of accident prevention. A well-fitting hard case or cover can protect your phone from slips, trips and falls. Don’t take your phone into the bathroom with you – 1 in 10 Americans has dropped a phone in the toilet.