Device Selection

Choose a tablet or phone

Everyone has different needs so when choosing a device it is important to make sure you consider everything that is important to yourself.
Tablets and mobile phones have a range of prices that to some degree reflect their performance.
Devices with a premium price will have lots of features, but will you use them to advantage?

Similarly, budget pricing may be attractive but a device that has frustrating features will not always offset the savings made.
While many mobile phones use Android as their operating system, they can customise it and it may include many apps that you do not need.

It is also possible that cheaper mobile phones will have:

  • slower performance of apps because of cheaper computing chip
  • poor touch response on their cheaper screens
  • average reception performance in difficult areas
  • less memory making it harder to add extra apps and little space for your own photos

Preferably try before you buy so that you know if the device performance suits you as some cheaper phones do perform well.

It is even more difficult if the device you are choosing is the first one you have owned as you are not sure of your needs!
In this case it may be better to purchase a good quality used device, try using one that a friend owns, or see if you can get a 'hand me down' from family or friend to learn how the devices behave.

One critical choice is the memory size of the mobile phone. Some manufacturers, in particular Apple, have fixed memory with no expansion possible.
This means that once full, you have to off-load photos or apps to get the space back to keep working. Larger memory phones can be purchased so you have to know in advance how much you might use.

A number of manufacturers of Android phones do provide expansion slots for 'micro SD' memory cards.
These are a relatively low cost way of expanding the capacity of the phone.
A 32 GB phone could have an extra 32GB for under $30 and an extra 64GB for about $40.
The micro SD memory card slides into a slot at the side of the phone sometimes requiring removal of the back cover.

Choose a phone or data plan

It is tempting to choose a non-contract, pay-as-you-use plan (often labelled 'Pre-paid) and these can often provide good options.
You will usually need your own mobile phone handset to use a Pre-paid plan and the cost of such a handset must be considered in the overall cost comparison.

It is possible however, that you may be able to purchase a handset within a contracted plan with the same or more benefits as the pre-paid.
This is done to encourage commitment to a provider for at least 24 months.
Note though, that the phone handset purchased under such a contract will be locked to the contracted provider for the contract period.

The reality is that it is not very clear which options will give the best value for money and it really requires some careful research.

There are three main things you are concerned with on a mobile phone plan:

  • How many calls and length of calls will you make; because not all plans allow unlimited calls and mobile call costs are significant.
  • How much data do you need; because it may be that a modest plan will be enough if you use little data for internet.
  • How much data can you access from home wifi or on business free-wifi to avoid large data usage as you will need some data to update apps.

Mobile phone data usage must be provided as part of the provider service so that you can determine how much you are using before you overrun your monthly limit.
Be aware that many apps are using data even when you are not accessing them. This is because the apps are checking if they need updating, sending user information and other actions that may be necessary for their functioning. This means that there will be some data use no matter how frugal you try to be.

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