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Latest Mobile Phone Deals  

Jan. 27 Amazon: iPhone 6S Case $2, Exp Unknown

Jan. 26 YoShop: LeTV Leeco Le Max 2 5.7 inch 2K Screen 4G Smartphone $175 shipped, Exp Unknown

Jan. 17 Amazon: KEY 3.3' Apple MFi Certified Lightning to USB Charge & Sync Cable $5 shipped, Exp Unknown

Jan. 12 AT&T Wireless: OtterBox Defender Series NFL Jacksonville Jaguars Case and Holster $10 shipped, Exp Unknown

Jan. 12 eBay: New LG V10 H900 64GB AT&T (Unlocked) Smartphone $250 shipped, Exp Unknown

More Mobile Phone Deals by xpBargains

Amazon Mobile Phone Top Sellers

Sony Ericsson W580i Gray Phone (AT&T)
Sony Ericsson W580i White Phone (AT&T)
BlackBerry 8300 Curve Silver Phone (AT&T)
List Price: $399.99
Amazon Price: $0.01
You save: $399.98 (99.99%)
List Price: $399.99
Amazon Price: $0.01
You save: $399.98 (99.99%)
List Price: $399.99
Amazon Price: $74.99
You save: $325.00 (81.25%)

Mobile Phone Shopping Guide

This guide will help you determine which type of service and wireless phones best fits your needs.

Wireless Phone Number Portability effective 11/24/2003!

Choose the Right Wireless Phone

  1. Core Features
  2. Advanced Features
  3. Other Convenience Features
  4. Techology

Choose the Right Carrier and Service Plan

  1. What to consider
  2. Major US Wireless Carriers

Our recommends


Wireless Phone Number Portability 

Starting November 24th, 2003, chances are that you will be able to keep your existing wireless phone number when changing wireless carriers, and you may also have the ability to transfer home wired telephone numbers to wireless phones (limited to your home local calling area only). However, the latter may not happen on Nov. 24 since the local telephone carriers are fighting the Wireless local number portability (WLNP).

According to FCC,

  • Wireless carriers in the Top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) must implement WLNP starting November 24, 2003.
  • Wireless carriers outside the Top 100 MSAs that receive a request to port a telephone number must be capable of doing so within six months after receiving such a request, or by May 24, 2004, whichever is later.

According to FCC, if you want to port a number, you need to contact the prospective new carrier, who will start the process of porting by contacting your current carrier. Keep in mind, you are still legally bound to existing agreement with you current carrier. So if you want to switch your cell phone carrier before your contract expires, you may need to pay the early termination fee. You may also need your recent cell phone bill to port your cell phone. back to top

Choose the Right Wireless Phone 

  1. Core Features
  2. Advanced Features
  3. Other Convenience Features
  4. Techology

Core Features

Antenna Design - either a fixed, retractable, or internal antenna. There is no clear technical advantage for any, and the call quality and reception depends much more on service coverage and other conditions.

Battery life - Cell phone battery life has improved a lot in the past few years, very remarkable considering the reduced (battery) size and weight. Some good phones can do three hours of talk time and five or six days standby.

Size and weight - Cell phones are becoming remarkably small and light. An ultracompact phone about 4 inches long and 3 ounces is very easier to carry. But keep in mind that the smallest phone may not always be the most convenient.

Case design - there are two types of designs: one-piece phones with molded cases and Clamshell flip phones. The latter is probably more stylish but some Sony Ericsson one-piece phones look pretty cool too. Most phones have volume buttons which you can operate during a call.

Screen size and keypad layout - Good ergonomics makes difference. Look for larger screens, easy menu navigation, and simplified and nicely sculpted keypads. If you use text messaging, or Internet access often, then you will probably need a large screen back to top

Advanced Features

Bluetooth Wireless - no need to use cables. Synchronize and communicate with your PC (w/ bluetooth adaptor) through bluetooth. Communicate with other bluetooth enable devices such as sending ringtones, data, and pictures to your buddies bluetooth enabled phone.

Built-in Camera - you take pictures and store them on your computer or send them to friends all in a few simple steps .

Built-in FM Radio - allows you to listen to FM radio through headphones.

Color Display - color wireless phones are so popular now. Pay attention to the screen resolution and number of colors.

Date Book - lets you schedule and organize events.

Games - the games on newer phones are much more advanced than one year ago.

Internet/Web Browser - Web-enabled phones have a built-in minibrowser that can display basic text from many popular Web sites. It also allows users to  receive e-mail and personalized alerts such as news, weather, sports, and financial updates.

Instant Messaging - allows you to send/receive instant text message to other active users (using phone or PC), some cell phones work with AOL and MSN.

Java and Mophun Support - it allows you to download a wide range of mobile games and applications. Very cool

Multiple ringer tones and programmable ringer - These are are fun, and you can assign different ringer tones to different callers. Many cell phones allow you to download ring tones from the Internet.

Multimedia - Some advanced cell phones allow you to send pictures, sound, and even video to another cell phone user, or even a PC user.

Synchronization with PC - update your contacts, date book, emails with a PC back to top

Other Convenience Features

Alarm Reminders - you can set reminders by ringing or vibrating to alert you about a voicemail or text message you have received, or a scheduled date book event.

Automatic Redial - automatically redials a number until the call goes through. The phone rings or vibrates to alert you when the call goes through.

Built-in Vibration ring mode - desirable since if you don't want to bother other people in public places

Calculator & currency converter

Call Forwarding - forwards your calls to any number you choose.

Call Restriction - lets you restrict outgoing or incoming calls.

Call Waiting and Call Hold - you can accept a second incoming call with out losing the first call, and then switch back and forth between the two.

Caller ID - It displays the number or name of the other party on your phone.

Car Phone Charger - The adapter plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet in your car and charges the cell phone.

Conference Calling - allows you talk with two other parties simultaneously.

Hands-Free Speakerphone - allows you to talk and listen to calls without holding the phone against your head.

Headphone Jack - as it allows you to use a hands-free device.

Message Indicator - This indicates when you have an active chat session, or when you have a new voice or text message waiting.

Phone Directory - you can store lists of names, emails, and phone numbers you phone. View can call these entries directly from cell phone.

Roam Indicator - appears when your are outside your home calling area.

Speed Dialing - speed dial an entry in your phonebook w/o entering the full number.

Voicemail with Message Alert - you can program your phone to forward calls to your voicemail when your line is busy or when you are not available. Receive a numeric message. back to top



Analog is an older wireless communication technology. Digital communication is a more advanced technology that converts voices into numeric code, which is then transmitted to the phone and decoded.

Digital technology offers error correction capability which yields better reception. Digital technology also offers other desiring features such as data service, better security, battery like. For network operators, digital technology increases network capacity and provides data service in addition to voice.


The three technologies are all digital.

TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access): The first digital network widely used in the America. AT&T and Cingular still widely use TDMA networks, although some of these networks are being converted to GSM.

GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications): Most widely used globally. GSM systems are used in nearly 200 countries (with 600 million subscribers) worldwide. GSM operates in the 900Mhz, 1800Mhz, and 1900Mhz in North America. Many cell phones are capable of dual-band (900 and 1900Mhz) or tri-band (900, 1800 and 1900Mhz), therefore it will work most places where GSM systems are found. One catch though, your GSM phone may be locked (meaning that it can only be used with your current carrier). Most carrier will give you the unlock code once you stay with them for a few months. Once unlocked, it can be used with other GSM carriers.

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access): CDMA is a newer technology than GSM and is more advanced in technology sense. In reality GSM networks works well and provides rich features so that CDMA networks are not widely used. CDMA carriers in the US include Sprint PCS, Alltel, and Verizon.

Third Generation Wirelss - The 3G Standard

The Third-generation (3G) wireless standard is approved in 1999 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It consists of 5 operating modes, including 3 major ones based on CDMA technology: CDMA2000 (North America), WCDMA (Europe) and TD-SCDMA (China). More recently added revisions such as CDMA2000 1x EV-DO improves high speed data access.

3G CDMA networks are being deployed in some countries but are still rare in USA. Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS have 3G 1x networks that offers peak data transfer speeds of 144 Kbps and average speeds of 50 to 70 Kbps.

Should consumers concerned with technology when choosing cell phones? The answer is NO unless you need high speed data access. All these digital technologies are not much different in terms of voice quality - the coverage in your area is more important. back to top

Choose the Right Carrier and Service Plan

  1. What to consider
  2. Major US Wireless Carriers

What to consider

Below are some factors that you need to consider when choosing from wireless carriers and service plans.

1) Coverage quality in the areas that you frequent. Ask your friends and neighbors about the wireless signal strength that they experience with the carriers operating in your area/city. This is perhaps the most important. It's not unusual that sometimes the wireless signal is too weak to receive/make a phone call at a certain location, and you want to avoid the carrier if that location is important to you.

2) Contract type and cancellation fee. Most carriers require new subscribers to sign a 1-year or 2-year contract to get some discount on cell phones. Read the fine prints. Most people prefer 1-year contract over a 2-year one since newer, fancier cell phones are always coming and most promotions are only for new subscribers.

3) Home calling area, roaming and long distance

  • Home calling area - you pay extra (roaming fee) if you are out of the Home Calling Area which is often referred to as "home area," "home coverage area," or "local calling area".
  • long-distance charges may apply if you plan does not include free long distance.

4) Anytime Minutes, Night Minutes, Weekend Minutes, Family Plan, Monthly fee

Peak and Off-Peak refers to minutes included in your plan that are used during different periods of the day. The following is a typical rate plans (based on the time zone where you use your phone). It's only used for illustration purpose - you carrier may have different definition so refer to your plan for details.

Peak: 7AM to 8:59PM Mon-Fri, Off-Peak: 9PM - 6:59AM Mon-Thu, 9PM Fri - 6:59AM Mon

Night and Weekend Minutes refers to minutes included in your plan that are used during night and weekend hours. The following is a typical rate plans (based on the time zone where you use your phone). It's only used for illustration purpose - you carrier may have different definition so refer to your plan for details.

9PM - 6:59AM Mon-Thu, 9PM Fri - 6:59AM Mon. New Year's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Family Plan: multiple phones sharing a same bill. Usually offers discount compared to multiple independent plans.

For example, Cingular's SuperHome FamilyTalk plans allow you to add up to three additional lines for just $9.99 per line per month w/ a $39.99+ calling plan $39.99. Verizon's Family SharePlan allowes unlimited family group calling.

Consider the plans with the right combination of monthly fee, anytime minutes, and night/weekend minutes that fits your need. Do you travel a lot? If so consider the plans that offers free long distance and free roaming.

5) Data Service. Internet Access, Email, Instant Messaging

Consider factors such as data bandwidth, average/peak data rate, coverage that fits the specific wireless data application that you use the most. If you only check email, you don't need a fast connection, and if use your wireless device to surf the internet look for a plan/network with high speed wireless access.

6) rebate offers, free cell phone, free accessories, etc. Rebates and free phones are nice, but make sure you know the conditions to receive the rebate. They usually require a 1yr or 2yr contract, and certain low rate plans do not qualify.

Wireless plans usually start at $19.99/month. We believe that plans with offer free long distance and free roaming are probably a good choice for most consumers.

7) Cellular phone providers also do a light credit check on customers prior to accepting a contract. You may need to fix your credit if your credit history isn't as good as you'd like. More credit information at Best-Card.comback to top

Major US Wireless Carriers

Below is a list of major carriers operating in USA.

AT&T Wireless -  the cellular branch of AT&T. AT&T Wireless delivers advanced high-quality mobile wireless communications services, voice and data, to businesses and consumers, in the U.S. and internationally.  AT&T Wireless Offers

  • 2nd largest wireless carrier in terms of total revenues in USA
  • 21.855 million consolidated subscribers (as of 9/30/03)
  • nearly $16.0 billion over the past four quarters

Cingular Wireless -  Cingular provides wireless voice, as well as advanced data services through its GPRS, EDGE, and Mobitex packet data network. Cingular Wireless Offers

  • 2nd largest wireless carrier in USA in terms of number of subscribers
  • more than 23 million voice and data customers
  • Year 2002 annual revenue was more than $14.7 billion
  • Cingular provides cellular/PCS service in 43 of the top 50 US markets

Nextel - a leading provider of fully integrated, wireless communications services and has built the largest guaranteed, all-digital, wireless network in the country. Nextel Offers

  • $8.7 billion Domestic Revenue (2002)
  • 12.3 million subscribers (Q3 2003)
  • currently serve 293 of the top 300 U.S. markets

Sprint PCS Wireless - the only nationwide all digital wireless network from the ground up - covering a population of nearly a quarter billion people. Sprint PCS uses Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology. Sprint PCS launched PCS Vision, the nation's first nationwide 3G service, in August 2002. Sprint PCS Offers

  • 4th largest cellular carrier
  • approximately 16.7 million direct and resale subscribers

T-Mobile Wireless - formerly VoiceStream Wireless. T-Mobile operates an all-digital, national wireless network based on the globally dominant GSM technology. T-Mobile's entire network has been enhanced to provide 2.5G services with GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), providing wireless Internet access at average speeds of 40 Kbps. Additionally, T-Mobile operates a Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless broadband (WLAN) network with service in more than 2,600 public locations. T-Mobile Wireless Offers

  • 10.8 million customers at the end of first-quarter 2003 reporting
  • more than 2,600 public T-Mobile HotSpot
  • GSM/GPRS network covers 245 million people with service in 46 of top 50 US markets

Verizon Wireless - formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE. It is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 34.6 million customers. Verizon Wireless Offers

  • largest wireless carrier in USA
  • 34.6 million subscribers
  • $19.3 billion in 2002
  • service in 49 of the top 50 US markets back to top

Our recommends

Amazon is one of the best places to get your new color cell phone. They offers a wide variarty of color cell phones w/ advanced features for under $100 or even free with service plan. 

A1 Wireless also offers some advanced color cell phones as well as small and convenient clamshell phones free. Carriers including Cingular (not available in Amazon), T-Mobile, AT&T TDMA, AT&T Next Generation, and more.

TracFone is great for light wireless phone users. No activation fees, No contracts, No credit checks, No monthly bills, and Nationwide long distance included.

Cell Phone Shop offers cell phone accessories at good price. Try use some of the coupons in our Cell Phone Shop coupons section to save more.

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