Cell phone buying guide : New gizmos, Gadgets gazette Blog

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cell phone buying guide

Buying a cell phone is more than a matter of choosing a handset--you also have to pick a service provider, or carrier, as well. Each carrier in the United States offers a different selection of technologies and services, so it's important to think about your needs when making a choice. For that reason, selecting a carrier should be the first step in the cell phone buying process.
a closer look at service providers in our Quick guide to cell phone carriers. Besides the major operators, you might also consider Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) carriers that cater to a special demographic or lifestyle. For example, Virgin Mobile is targeted toward younger users while Boost Mobile is centered on urban users who want advanced features. MVNOs do not operate their own cellular network, but they lease network space from national carriers instead.
Ultimately though, you should base your decision on which carrier offers the best reception in your area. Because evaluating wireless coverage requires experience with the network in a wide variety of physical locations, CNET does not rate wireless carriers, but we've partnered with Root Wireless to create a tool for determining the best carrier for your neighborhood, commute, or workplace. Be sure to check it out. Word of mouth also is helpful when selecting a provider. Since reception varies sharply by location, ask your friends and family which carrier they use. Also, since there's no substitute for real-world experience, ask to borrow a friend's phone, and test it in your house and your workplace. Remember that carriers have a grace period during which you can test the service and return the phone without voiding the contract. Yet if you do return a phone and cancel a contract, you may have to pay for calls made during the usage period.

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