RealSimple.com
Justin Bernhaut

What You Should Care About


Service provider: The calling plan is more important than the phone, so look for the best coverage for your area, the best pricing for the way you use your phone, and whatever extras you desire. If you want to take your phone abroad, go with T-Mobile or AT&T, which use GSM, the most common cell-phone system worldwide; for use in all GSM locations, choose a quad-band model.

Bluetooth: This technology allows your phone to connect wirelessly to a headset so you can walk and talk hands-free without getting tangled up in wires.

Camera: If you don't plan to print photos from your cell-phone camera, the low VGA resolution (about a third of a megapixel) that most provide should be fine. For prints, look for two megapixels, advises Howard Chui, who reviews cell phones on his website, howardchui.com.

What You Can Overlook


Text messaging: This feature lets you use your phone to send a note when you can't stop to talk. All new phones offer it.

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