Thinking of Buying a New Cell Phone? Four Things to Know Before You Do

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 14, 2014

(StatePoint) Buying a cell phone, despite all the options for models and stylish cases, is no easy task. Endless questions crop up about calling plans, data plans, voicemail and insurance. Getting a new phone may be a task that happens more often than you like — as one in three 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 purchasing a more costly device with features you’ll never use. Some manufacturers offer rebates, which can significantly lower the cost of your new phone. So investigate your discount options.

Know Yourself

Will you be using your phone for everything? Do you make a lot of calls or 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 committing 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 $650 for an iPhone or $545 for a Samsung Galaxy, 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, plus deductibles of $175 or more.

Far more sensible options are out there. For example, SquareTrade offers $5 a month protection plans with a $75 deductible – that’s less than half of what most mobile carriers charge. And SquareTrade allows for up to four repairs or replacements within your two-year plan. For Apple devices, look into Applecare. SquareTrade or ApplcCare are far more economical than getting insurance through your mobile carrier. More information can be found at

Take Precautions

Even with a great 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 — one in 10 Americans has dropped their phone in the toilet. Don’t leave it on the table when you’re dining and never leave it in your lap: too many people see their phone fall to its death when standing up or getting out of the car.

If it’s time to upgrade your phone or change plans, take your time and do your research. And make sure you protect that device that most of us can’t live without.