By Garnet Roach email@example.com
Whether you're after a basic handset or a top of the range smartphone, we can help you decide among the hundreds of handsets on the market.
Smartphones are mobile phones with advanced features that effectively turn them into a portable computer - with everything from emails to powerpoint documents available on-the-go.
The features you get on your smartphone will vary depending on what you want and the handset you choose. Some phones offer push email capabilities that allow you to receive your emails wherever you are, while others offer Windows Mobile and some even have Qwerty keyboards or multi-media connectivity.
Smartphones have high technical capabilities, so are not ideal for anyone who is uncomfortable with technology.
If you want your mobile phone to double up as a a camera, there’s a huge amount of choice out there.
Almost all but the most basic handsets now offer camera capabilities, and the features you get will vary depending on the handset you choose.
In 2009, 8-megapixel camera phones become the norm and you can now get phones that offer as much as 12-megapixels - easily matching SLRs and point-to-shoot cameras.
Some handsets also offer zoom functions, macro and flash features and certain models even come with a high-spec Carl Zeiss lens.
The Apple iPhone
With more than 5.2 million handsets sold worldwide between April and June 2009 alone, and more than two billion downloads from its Apps Store, the Apple iPhone is one of the most successful mobile phones to date.
Launched in 2007, the first generation iPhone combined the iPod with a mobile phone for the first time, followed by the second generation iPhone 3G in 2008 - which outsold its predecessor in just three months. Designed for optimal internet access, the third generation iPhone 3G S launched in June 2009, with a faster operating system, a better camera and new features such as GPS tracking.
The iPhone was designed to work alongside “unlimited” mobile internet access, subject to a fair usage policy. However, some contracts are now specifying a cap on monthly data usage. So be sure you sign-up to a contract which will suit your needs. You can also set up multiple email accounts on you iPhone, to receive emails direct to your handset.
As well as offering users an iPod-mobile phone combination and east web browsing, the iPhone also allows customers to personalise their mobile phones by downloading free and paid-for applications from its Apps Store - with everything from dictionaries and phrase books to stargazing, poker and Monopoly.
Originally considered a business-orientated smartphone, giving users constant access to emails and the ability to view, edit and create Microsoft documents on the go, the BlackBerry has now become more mainstream, launching touchscreen phones to compete with the iPhone.
BlackBerry contract customers also get an inclusive mobile internet allowance and emails pushed automatically to their phone.
BlackBerry offers a range of phones to suit different needs - all with smartphone capabilities. It also offers its own App World, allowing users to install their own applications, web browsing, mapping and a great range of organisational tools.
Many of the BlackBerry phones offer hard-key Qwerty keyboards, making it even easier to write text messages and emails.
The iPhone and the BlackBerry touchscreen offering are by no means the only touchscreen phones on the market; there’s a huge selection of touchscreen phones around - from smartphones to slimmer, more basic handsets.
Nokia, LG and HTC all offer their own touchscreen models, which are often available on more than one network.
There’s a wide array of features available, depending on the handset you go for, and many touchscreen phones also offer a sliding Qwerty keyboard to make writing texts and emails even easier.
Many of the latest mobile phones allow you to access the 3G mobile broadband network, getting you online at faster speeds, no matter where you are.
If you do think that you’ll want to use your phone to access the internet - to get directions, check your emails or book cinema tickets - a 3G phone is by far the best option.
You’ll be able to access the internet at faster speeds and will also have a more reliable connection.
Many mobile phone providers offer a daily fair usage policy on mobile internet - so that you never pay more than £1 a day, for example. If you think that you'll be going online regularly, you should think about buying an internet bolt-on that could give you “unlimited” mobile internet access, subject to a fair usage policy, for around £7.50 a month.
Alternatively, you could go for a phone that offers inclusive internet access - such as the iPhone or one of the BlackBerry models.
If all you're after is a basic handset - without internet access, a high megapixel camera or a touchscreen, then you could pick one up for less than £5 on a pay-as-you-go plan.
These ultra-basic handsets come with a colour screen, calendar, alarm and vibration alerts but little else - without even the ability to send and receive text messages, though for a few pounds more you can add features like this.
This is the cheapest way to get connected, and pay-as-you-go mobile phone deals have never been better value. You can now get a host of added extras when you top up, such as free texts, free calls to UK landlines, free internet bolt-ons and even double top-ups - or choose a sim card that’s specific to your needs, offering international calls from as little as 4p per minute, for example.
If you want a cheap, basic handset with the inclusive texts and minutes of a longer contract deal, you could go for a sim-only mobile contract. Sim-only deals run on rolling 30 day contracts - offering the flexibility and commitment-free nature of pay-as-you-go - with the inclusive offers of a longer contract. They don’t come with a free phone or any upgrades but are a great way to get connected.