Mobile Phones Buying Guide

Mobile Phones Buying Guide

There are that many mobile phones around now it can get a bit confusing which does what, so if you're planning on an update make sure you read our handy guide to make sure you get the one that's right for you!

Just click onto one of the links below to find out more.

Choose your phone type

Entry-level phones

When buying a mobile phone, there are many things to consider. First of all, you've got to ask yourself what's most important to you in a phone. Are you just looking for a simple handset with which to make calls and send the odd text message, without access to the Internet? If so, there are a number of cheap and simple pay as you go phones available from the major networks. Typically, these are priced between ?10 and ?60

Feature Phone

The next step up the ladder from the entry-level phone is a mid-range handset, often referred to as a feature phone. Feature phones will generally include a limited web browser, although they may only support slower GPRS internet speeds, rather than faster 3G that you get on Smartphones. Most do support email and include some built in apps for social networking. The camera quality of feature phones is often ok and usually up to 2 megapixels.


A Smartphone is a mobile phone with advanced features and behaves more like a computer. You can browse the web, download thousands of apps and send emails from your phone. As you move up to the higher price brackets, you'll start to find smart phones with faster processors, better cameras and larger, high-resolution screens.

What is an Operating System (OS)?

Different Smartphones have different Operating Systems which manage all the programs on the mobile, making sure each one runs efficiently. It also provides a platform for developers to make applications, or "apps", which are small, downloadable programs for your phone.


Customise to suit your needs - Access email, music, the web and over 35,000 apps via the Android Market. This is now the most popular Operating System in the world and most handset manufacturers have Android compatible phones in their range.


Windows 7 OS delivers a new user experience by integrating the things users really want to do, creating a balance between getting work done and having fun.


Personalise your BlackBerry Smartphone with games, social networking apps, themes, personal productivity apps and so much more.


The Bada Operating System is quick and easy to use and has a variety of applications available, which can be downloaded from the Samsung Apps store. It is computer compatible, making it easy to sync your handset and PC for quick file transfers.


The Symbian user interface is regularly updated and improved, making it a very easy system to navigate. Symbian OS is open source making it easier for developers to create and share applications, which is mainly done through the Nokia Ovi Store. It has a wide range of different apps from multimedia treats to functional programs.

Sim Information

Sim Card

A Sim is a small card with a chip in it. It holds your mobile phone number and lets you use your mobile phone with the mobile network. It can also be used to store numbers and texts. The SIM card fits in a slot inside the handset.

Sim Free

Choosing a Sim Free phone is the easiest way to upgrade your phone. You can use any sim card in a sim free phone, either your old sim or order a new one from your chosen network. Just make sure you store your contacts on it! In some cases you will need to contact your network, to arrange for internet settings to be downloaded on to the phone, this is usually a pretty simple process done via text message.

Pay as you Go Sim

Pay as you go also known as "pre-pay", this simply means you can "top up" your sim card with credit, this credit is used to pay for calls, texts and internet usage. There are various ways you can "top up" your Sim including using the swipe card provided at supermarkets, cash points, post offices and corner shops. You can also buy credit directly from the networks either via their helpline or websites using your bank debit card. This allows you to control your usage spending effectively and ensures you never get any scary bills.

Micro Sim Card

Micro Sim Card is just a smaller version of a standard sim card, the functions are exactly the same, its just smaller. Quite a few new Smartphones require a micro sim card so watch out for this, you can request a micro sim from your network.

Puk Code

If you incorrectly enter your PIN code 3 times in a row, the SIM will lock up and you'll need to enter the PUK code to release it. Please contact your network provider if/when needed. Also if you want to change networks but keep your same number, you will need to ask your current network for your PUK code and give the code to your new Network.

IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity)

International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique 15-digit number given to every mobile phone. The IMEI can be displayed by dialling *#06# & usually printed inside the phone under the battery. You should keep a note of the number incase you need to report the handset lost or stolen.

Phone Features


The quality of a phones camera is based on the quality of the lens and the phone software. The higher the mega pixel the greater the picture resolution, which means you can display bigger, clearer pictures on your PC. MP is short for megapixel. A pixel is a small dot that makes up an image. A megapixel = 1 million pixels. Useful camera features available on phones are Flash (a must for taking pictures indoors), zoom (allows you to get a better view of distant subjects) and shake control (prevents blurry photo's).

HD Camera

With HD Video Recording you can capture videos on Stunning High Definition videos straight from your phone.

Touchscreen phone

Operated by touching the screen rather than conventional buttons and keypad. Allows you to use the handset in much wider variety of ways

Apps or applications

Are small computer programs that let you do lots of useful, fun things on your phone - from showing you where you are on a map or playing games to getting you up to the minute news headlines. Some are designed for certain operating systems but others work on lots of different ones. You can download apps online, some are free and others you can buy.


Processor or CPU is the brains of a Smartphone. This is a small chip that is built into the phone, it processes and calculates most things within it. The speed of the processor is measured in Mhz or GHz. (1000Mhz = 1Ghz) the higher the Mhz or GHz the faster or more efficient the processor is.

Dual Core Processor

A dual core processor doubles your phone's processing power for quicker multi-tasking, better gaming and improved battery life. For example a dual core 1.2GHz processor has the equivalent of 2 x 1.2 GHz processors. A quad core processor has 4 times the power of a single processor.


MB is short for megabyte, GB is short for Gigabyte. This is the size of the phones memory or SD card. 1000MB make up 1GB. The higher the number of MB/GB the more information (pictures or music) the phone will hold. For example, a 1GB memory stores up to 250 tracks depending on file size.

Internal Memory

Internal Memory is the memory that is already built into the phone when you buy it.

Expandable Memory

Want to store more photos, music or applications? You'll need an expandable memory slot. Just make sure you get the right memory card for your mobile phone.

Standby time

The maximum time the phone's battery will last between charging. Using the phone in anyway i.e. making calls, using the internet etc. reduces this time.


Short Message Service or SMS is the technical term for a basic text message.


Multimedia Messaging Service or MMS is the technical term for a text message which contains an picture or video file.


Blackberry Messenger or BBM is an instant message service only available on Blackberry handsets. There is a basic monthly charge for using the service but after that messages are free.

Talk Time

This is the length of time measured in minutes that the fully charged battery will last when phone is in constant use during a call.



This technology allows electronic devices in close range to communicate wirelessly, so you can connect your phone to your car hands-free or to another Bluetooth enabled mobile phones.


Lets you connect to the internet through a wireless network hotspot on the go or at home.


3G is a wireless technology that lets you surf the internet quickly wherever you have a 3G signal. Just make sure you check with your Network provider that you have 3G Data Allowance to avoid running up large bills, its measured by how much data you use to download apps, send photos or browse the internet. For example, 100MB of a data a month would allow you to send 6,000 emails and view 100 full web pages.


GPS (Global Positioning System) lets you know exactly where you are the in the world down to around 10m, including altitude and even which direction you're pointing. Phones with GPS can be used as a sat nav for anything from route planning to finding your nearest cash point or curry house! A-GPS lets you do all this but quicker.

Dual Band

Mobile phones that are dual band can be used throughout Europe. It is worth checking with your network before going abroad.

Tri Band

Mobile phones that are Tri band band can be used in many areas of the world including the US and Canada. It is worth checking with your network before going abroad.

Quad Band

Mobile phones that are Quad band are compatible with networks all over the world. It is worth checking with your network before going abroad.


Phones enabled with General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) allow you to access WAP internet pages and send and receive MMS. Receiving data is faster than WAP enabled phones but slower than 3G though you are only charged when you send or receive data - and charged by the amount of data, rather by than the length of transmission.


Wireless Application Protocol or WAP allows you to access a slimmed-down version of the internet. It is similar to GPRS but slower. You can only access WAP enabled websites, useful for casual users but if you want to surf the web on a regular basis you really need a 3G enabled phone.


Near field communication, or NFC, allows for simplified transactions, data exchange, and wireless connections between two devices in close proximity to each other, usually by no more than a few centimetres. It is expected to become a widely used system for making payments by Smartphone.

Mobile Phone Insurance

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Mobile Phone Insurance is offered by Shop Direct Home Shopping Limited. Underwritten by London General Insurance Company Limited. Registered Office: Integra House, Floor 2, Vicarage Road, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9JZ. Registered Number 1865673. London General Insurance is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority .

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