Your guide to choosing the right smartphone to give
If you've noticed more smartphones and tablets on your holiday wish lists, you're not alone. A recent survey by Kelton Research found that 69 percent of people would like to receive something wireless as a holiday gift.
The report also found it's not always easy to shop for these kinds of gifts. In fact, 43 percent of people surveyed said they find shopping for technology items more confusing than assembling a child's toy with multiple parts.
To minimize the confusion around shopping for a wireless device, Ami Silverman, senior vice president of sales operations, T-Mobile USA, has a few tips for selecting the right smartphone and getting the most value for everyone on your holiday shopping list.
Smart Tips for Choosing a Smartphone
There are many options to choose from, and at first glance they might all seem the same. The key to picking the right one is to start by matching the phone's featured functions to what you know about the user. For example, here are some typical mobile users and the features which would be ideal for their devices:
- Heavy texter/social networker – Consider phones with a physical QWERTY keyboard to enable quick connections with inner circles.
- Gamer – Look for devices that have preloaded or easy access to premium games as well as large, high-definition screens, powerful processors (preferably a quad-core processor) and long lasting batteries.
- Entertainment junkie – Keep an eye out for fast 4G smartphones with touch screens featuring large high-definition display for watching videos and enjoying online entertainment.
- Worker bee – Seek phones that offer business-ready capabilities and the ability to accurately and quickly view and edit documents and share files fast.
- Style maven – Choose touch screen phones that are thin, look sleek, and can be customized with a range of accessories, including stylish protective cases.
- Photographer – Prioritize phones with high-resolution cameras and high storage capacity.
While these tips can point you in the right direction, it's best to talk to experts in the store. Explain the type of person you are buying for and how they'll be using the device. Knowledgeable sales associates have tools and resources so they can help you find exactly what you need. T-Mobile has also developed a handy online quiz to help you figure out which hot device might be the best fit. You can take the quiz at http://t-mo.co/RFCB2l.
Lastly, before making your purchase, make sure you understand the store's return policies, and check for special offers or promotions. You can find the latest offers from T-Mobile at http://t-mo.co/SPVZIH.
How to Choose a Service Plan
And if you're considering giving a service plan – like 63 percent reported in Kelton's survey – to pair with that smartphone or tablet gift, there are a variety of options. Since smartphones require a data plan for access to the Internet and many applications, the gift of a service plan would enable your recipient to use the phone right away. If you go this route, Silverman recommends that you first figure out how much data the phone recipient will be using every month.
According to a September, 2012 NPD Connected Intelligence study, consumers are using more data than ever before. Android smartphone users download an average of 870 MB of data per month on cellular networks and about 2.5 GB per month on Wi-Fi networks. So what does that really mean? For context, with approximately one gigabyte (GB) of data, you could do one of the following tasks: view 1,000 web pages, send or receive 50,000 emails without attachments, stream 33 hours of music, post 2,800 pictures to Facebook, or watch 8+ hours of video on YouTube.
Knowing how the phone recipient will use it not only helps you find the right device, but the right data plan as well. Ask yourself:
- How often will they check email on the device each day?
- How often will they surf the web or check their social network?
- How often will they share photos and documents?
- How often will they download games, apps and music?
- How often will they stream music and videos?
Compare service options to get the most for your money. Some plans offer a limited number of texts or data usage and charge hefty overage fees. Other plans include unlimited talk, text and data for multiple phone lines for a reasonable monthly fee. Silverman said, "T-Mobile's Unlimited Nationwide 4G Data plan offers no data caps, speed limits, or bill shock, and access to fast, dependable nationwide 4G coverage."
In addition to contract plans, Silverman said you can also consider a pre-paid plan. "For example, with T-Mobile's Monthly 4G no annual contract plans, the gift recipient can enjoy their new phone as soon as they open the box, without committing to a long-term contract."
Silverman recommends using a data calculator to help figure out the best plan based on usage. To get started, visit www.t-mobile.com/Tools/MBCalculator.aspx.
Giving Kids and Teens a Smartphone
Are you considering giving your child a smartphone this holiday but wonder about the safety and responsibility implications? Silverman offers some advice that can help the whole family use their smartphones in a safe way:
- ICE: Save important contact numbers into your child's phone; add ICE (In Case of Emergency) so responders or others can reach you if your child is in trouble, e.g. ICE Daddy Cell; ICE Home.
- Check-in Text: Encourage kids to send a quick, discreet text as an alternative to an "embarrassing" check-in call when they arrive or leave somewhere.
- 911: Teach your child how to call 911 on a cell phone in case of emergency, including how to place the call if the phone is locked.
- Memorize: Though numbers may be programmed into a child's phone, teach them to memorize family/emergency contact phone numbers in case they get separated from their phone.
- Current Photos: Keep current photos of your kids on your cell phone, updating each family member's photo every six months.
- Charge It: Ensure your child understands cell phones must be turned on while away from home. Make sure the phone is charged at night and buy a spare charger for his/her backpack.
- Cell Phone-Ready?: Giving your child a cell phone can help increase safety. If your child walks home alone, babysits, or participates in afterschool activities, it may be the right time. Holiday break is a great time for parents and children to practice having this new responsibility.
- Family Contract: Discuss the rules your child must obey to have a cell phone, and create a family contract for responsible use. Include must-dos like answering your calls/texts, keeping the phone on when away from home, not using it during school or while driving, and not responding to unknown numbers.