Choosing a Device

As the world’s wireless leader, U.S. wireless companies are constantly introducing new devices with innovative features and services. With so many options, how do you know which device is right for you?

To help you make the best decision for your unique needs, here are some things to consider:

1. What devices are available from the wireless service provider?
There are hundreds of mobile devices available in the market today, and service providers offer their customers a wide range of them. However, not all device brands or models may be available from a given service provider. Check with your provider to see the devices that are available to use on its network.

2. What do you want to “do” with the device?
Do you want to have a physical or touchscreen keyboard to type? Do you want to store music, record and watch videos, take pictures and share them, etc? Would you rather only have the device to call only a few people, such as home, work, spouses and kids? Depending on how you answer these kinds of questions, you may want a feature phone, smartphone, phablet or tablet. Your wireless provider will help you figure out which device is the best one for your needs.

3. How much does the device cost? Does the price differ if you sign a term contract? Does the device require a specific service plan?
With many contract plans, wireless providers offer subsidized rates for the devices in exchange for your commitment to stay with their services for a period of time. Some devices may require certain service plans too, so make sure you agree and understand all of the contract terms before you sign the contract.

4. Does this device offer locks, erasing and/or tracking software, anti-virus software and other security measures?
In the event your device is lost or stolen, your device may already offer remote lock, wipe and tracking. If it doesn’t, you may be able to download apps that do. You may also want to ask your wireless provider if it offers any of these features for free or for a fee. The same is true for anti-virus software and other security measures.

5. If you want to impose limits, such as parental control tools, restrict texting or data usage, third party billing, etc., does this device offer those features?
Some devices offer these kinds of features built-in to the device so you only need to turn those restrictions on. If it’s not, you may be able to download apps to restrict usage. You may also ask your wireless provider since it may offer these restriction features for free or for a fee.

6. Do you want to switch service providers and use your current device or do you want a new device?

  • If you want to keep your current device, will it work on the new service provider’s network?  Due to differences in hardware, operating systems, networks, etc., not all devices are interoperable for other networks. If you want to keep your current device, before you sign a contract, ask your potential provider if the unlocked device will work on its network.
  • If you signed a contract with wireless service provider, did you fulfill all of the contract terms? This is important because if you fulfilled the terms of the contract, then you may ask the provider to “unlock” the device. If you want to break the contract before the terms are satisfied, just like car leases or renting homes, there may be early termination fees (ETF) and other penalties.

7. Where do you plan to use the device? Do you plan to travel internationally?
Around the world, countries may use different spectrum bands and technologies than are used by service providers in the U.S. If you plan to use the device in the U.S. and are frequently visiting other countries, you may want to consider devices that work in those countries. Your wireless provider will help you select the right device that includes the spectrum bands and technology used in those countries.


If you are a senior or have disabilities, AccessWireless.org is the comprehensive website to help you find the best wireless device (and service) for your needs.

 

Last updated: November 2013
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