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Feb 192013
 February 19, 2013  Posted by  Hot Deals, Services
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Android, iPhone or Blackberry? If you’ve decided it’s time for a smartphone, you may be wondering which one will give you the most bang for your buck. Before you go shopping, take time to ask yourself the following three questions. It just might save you some money:

1. Do you really need a smartphone? I was discussing smartphone features with my 86-year-old aunt the other day and she said, “Maybe I ought to get myself one of those.” My aunt doesn’t travel much anymore, has a computer at home, doesn’t have any social media accounts, listens to music on her radio and doesn’t play any online games (except for Scrabble, which she plays on her home computer). She uses her cellphone to make phone calls. So why would she need a smartphone? I, on the other hand, am self-employed (so I feel like I need to have constant access to my email), love to travel and take lots of photos, and have several business and personal social media accounts that I frequently update. A smartphone makes sense for me. If you use your cellphone primarily for phone calls and texting, you might want to think about whether or not you’ll actually use any of the other smartphone features before you invest in a new phone.

2. How are you going to use your smartphone? Determining what features you need will help you decide which smartphone to buy:

iPhone features:

  • Easiest to learn.
  • Has the most games and other apps.
  • On-screen keyboard.
  • 8-megapixel camera (can load photos to Facebook).
  • Great for Web browsing, although it doesn’t play flash videos.
  • Is not yet available through all major carriers.
  • Has a smaller screen than some  Androids.

Android features:

  • Great for Web browsing (many models play flash videos).
  • Available in a variety of screen sizes.
  • Available with either an on-screen or a physical keyboard.
  • More user-friendly than the iPhone for e-mail.
  • Has a better navigation system than the iPhone.
  • Camera quality varies among models.
  • Easiest to load photos to Facebook.
  • Is available through most major carriers.
  • Not as easy to learn as the iPhone.

Blackberry features:

  • Most come with a physical keyboard.
  • Has one of the best messaging systems for e-mail, texting and instant messaging.
  • Is available through most major carriers.
  • Has a longer-lasting battery than the iPhone or Android.
  • Not the best choice for Web browsing.
  • Camera quality varies among models.
  • Not as many apps available.

3. Do you have to have the latest and greatest model? Or can you make do with an older model? Once you’ve decided which smartphone to buy, compare features of the newest model to those of the next-newest model and decide if you can get by with the older version. An iPhone 5 will cost you around $200 with a two-year contract. You can get an iPhone 4S for around $100. Click here to compare iPhone features. The Samsung Galaxy S III is around $150 with a 2-year contract. T-Mobile is currently offering the Samsung Galaxy S II for free. Click here to compare Samsung Galaxy features. Blackberry prices are extremely variable for their most popular phones (the Blackberry Bold, the Blackberry Torch, and the Blackberry Curve). Click here to compare features. Blackberry is also coming out with a new Blackberry Z10 in March, so prices on the current models are likely to drop when the new model is released.

If you’re already under contract with a cellphone provider, wait until your contract is up to buy a new phone. Without the contract, smartphone prices are much higher.

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Julie Henry

Julie Henry, RN, MPA, is a freelance writer, editor, and project manager who loves the thrill of scoring a good deal. She writes a bi-weekly "On the Cheap" column for the Sun News in Myrtle Beach. In addition to writing about deals and discounts, Julie is an established medical writer. She has done work for a number of national health care organizations, including The Joint Commission, The American Academy of Family Physicians and the Society for Teachers of Family Medicine. Born and raised in Kansas City, MO, she now lives in Myrtle Beach. Julie owns and operates Kansas City on the Cheap, Myrtle Beach on the Cheap, and Charleston on the Cheap.

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