Why Upgrade Your Cell Phone?

As technology spirals out of our grasp and into the hands of the younger generation, it’s easy to become confused, frustrated, and frankly, lazy. Why should we spend so much time learning to use these new tools when our old ones suited us just fine?

A common example is the cell phone. With smartphones becoming more and more popular, it can be hard to find a nice, effective, ‘regular’ cell phone with proper coverage and a normal price range. Your children, friends, co-workers and even your cell phone provider keep pushing you to upgrade your phone…. But why should you?

Well, here are a few good reasons:

Organization: Smartphones were created to act as personal organizers, with electronic schedules, diaries, shopping lists, reminders and contact lists that allow you to keep track of everything in both your work and personal life.

Flexibility: The portability of your smartphone allows you to take notes as well as change and review appointments, contacts, emails and documents while you’re on the go.

Connectability: The speed and data quality of smartphones allows you to connect to the internet, and even to your remote computer network from any location. Information sharing is made easy with a smartphone, which can process large email attachments or data files from almost every website. These features can ease the life of remote workers or mobile workforces, as well as people who travel frequently.

Information: Smartphones can access thousands of services, opening an entire world right at your fingertips. With a smartphone, you can access maps, navigation help, news coverage, weather reports, traffic information- even Google search!

Quality: The quality of a smartphone’s camera, voice calls, text messaging and web browsing are all significantly better than those on older cell phone models. Communication is faster, conversations are clearer, and photos taken while on the move can actually be cherished in albums or files both online and off.

Getting the Right Cell Phone Plan

Shopping for a cell phone plan may seem like a daunting task, but there are actually dozens of ways to find the plan most suitable for you and your family.

Cell phone service providers offer numerous individual and family plans to meet the needs of every person’s social or business life, as well as provide the most cost-effective option available. Many, if not all, of the options can be found easily online, and cell phone companies offer personalized advice to individual customers as well. There are also websites that offer analyses of your personal cellphone use and suggest the most cost-effective plan.

Many companies, such as T-Mobile, offer classic individual plans which include unlimited minutes and texts, and a certain amount of data at a particular speed, for a regular monthly fee. These plans tend to include two-year contracts for phone discounts, unlimited calls within the same network, unlimited nights and weekends and free domestic long distance roaming throughout the United States.

Family plans are similar to individual plans, but they enable two or more cell phone users to access a shared pool of minutes, and receive a single bill. These plans go by slightly different names, depending on the provider, including Verizon’s Family Share, AT&T’s Family Talk, Sprint’s Power Pack Family Plans, T-Mobile’s Family Time and Nextel’s Team Share. These plans usually include the same benefits as the individual plans, such as unlimited nights and weekends.

Both tracks can be changed if one finds they are not the perfect match for their lifestyle. With some cell phone service providers, there is also an option to create your own, more flexible plan based on your particular cell phone use. The most confusing parts of your monthly bill are the data charges. Data is used when browsing the web, downloading updates, checking your Facebook, sending or receiving emails and so much more. Many plans used to come with unlimited data packages, but that practice was recently changed. Now, there is a monthly fee based on your data plan, and overage charges when more than the allotted amount of data is used.

Where to Purchase Cell Phone Accessories

There are many online stores that stock a wide variety of cell phone accessories. First you need to work out what accessories are going to be most useful for your needs and then investigate the stores with the best prices and varieties. Of course, Amazon and eBay are usually good places to begin, but you might be surprised at the accessories that are on sale through local vendors in your area – either new, or in good, second-hand condition. Sometimes people just get bored of their perfectly high-quality cell phone cover and want to switch it as they are encountering a new “color mood.” But for you, it could be a case of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

If you are buying cell phone accessories second-hand, be sure to check the credibility of the seller – usually these online sites have ratings for other sales that have been made. A good bargain doesn’t become much of a great deal if the battery you buy from someone has been over-used and won’t give you the longevity you seek.

Next, it is often easier and less time-consuming to find a site that is selling all the accessories you need for your cell phone – rather than having to shop around different sites and make several credit card purchases. Find a trustworthy site that offers batteries, chargers, cell phone covers, cases, ringtone cards, clips, screen protectors, adaptors, Bluetooth accessories, add-ons, headsets, speakers, face plates, etc and anything else you need.

One way to save money on cell phone accessories is to look for deals; sometimes there are great bargains through the various “deal-a-day” companies sprouting up throughout the nation. Talk to your friends to see if they are looking for the same accessory and if, perhaps, you can get a 2 for 1 deal or free shipping for a larger order. In cases where you are not pressed for time, you’d be surprised at what deals crop up at the last minute, selling exactly the accessory you’re looking for, in the right color and style, at an unbeatable price.

So have a clear picture in your mind of exactly the type of cell phone accessories you need and then start looking. Get an idea of general prices through the main online stores selling them, and then keep an eye out for a good deal. That way you’ll end up with exactly what you want at a perfect price.

The Only Thing Worse Than a Wet Dog…

Getting your cell phone wet doesn’t need to mark the end of its life. Of course, it’s not exactly optimal to have the cell phone anywhere but a dry place, but these things do happen and there are often ways to salvage the phone. Also, bear in mind that many cell phones these days comes with a plastic protective cover – that already gives an extra layer of “hope” in the restoration of a soggy cell phone. It probably takes at least 15 seconds for the water to seep in past the cover, so the quicker it is retrieved, the greater chance it has of not encountering any major damage.

There are a few other practical tips to remember once your phone has either fallen down the toilet or gotten stuck in the washing machine. Do not turn it on. Let it dry out first. If you turn it on when it’s still wet, you are likely to cause it to short circuit. In addition, if you are unable to pull it out of the water immediately but are able to access the battery, remove the battery while the phone is still submerged in the water.

Once the phone is out of the water, take out the battery – water and electricity is an inherently bad mix. Phone circuits can survive if they remain detached from a power source during submersion. Next, remove the SIM card (for the GSM carrier phones) since even if the cell phone doesn’t survive, at least the object with the important data has a fighting chance. As well, SIM cards tend to be able to cope with moisture pretty well – so they are likely to survive getting wet more than a phone is.

Next, take off any other layers on the phone – extra covers, connectors etc., allowing the cell phone to “breathe” through all its slots and holes. This is a good time to dry the phone as much as possible, with a towel, padding gently. It is ill-advised to move the phone even a little bit while you’re drying it since the more it stays in one place, the greater chance it has of not pushing even a few drops of water deeper into the phone. Sometimes a vacuum cleaner (not a hairdryer) can work well at sucking out any excess liquid if used carefully.

Another little-known tip is to leave the phone in a bowl of uncooked rice overnight since these small grains are able to absorb any remaining liquid. Then, the next morning – or at least 24 hours after you have completed these processes – put the battery back in and test your phone.

What Age Should a Child Have a Cell Phone?

Deciding at what age a child needs a cell phone is an extremely individual and personal decision. So much so, that even within the same family, kids may be given cell phones at different ages.

The most important question to ask yourself is if your child actually needs a cell phone. If your child is pushing to get a cell phone simply because friends at school have one, then there is no reason to purchase one. If however, the child is often in situations where a cell phone might be an important aid, then it becomes a reasonable purchase. Such situations could include times when the child must frequently travel alone, after school activities that require the child to call a parent to be picked up and the like.

Perhaps you want them to have access to a phone for that rainy-day emergency. You may want them to have a phone because they regularly need to call a parent or caregiver from a location where there isn’t a landline; finally, you may simply want to be able to keep tabs on your child. These are the main reasons a child would be given a cell phone.

Once you have decided to purchase a cell phone for your child, be sure to put limitations on its usage. A lot of people choose a calling card option (so bills do not spiral out of control), remove the SMS feature and data plan, block certain numbers, or apply a combination of all of these. Work out what you want your child to use the cell phone for and then talk to the company about how best to enforce the limitations.

Certainly, it is beneficial to sit down with your child to discuss your expectations and limitations. You’ll need to make clear to your child why you are giving them a phone, when you expect them to use it (and not use it), how much money you are willing to pay for each month, and more. Setting the ground rules when the phone is first turned on will, hopefully, save you from grief and miscommunication later.