How to Choose a Device

With so many options, choosing a device can be challenging. Here are a few factors to consider when you’re thinking about a new mobile device:

Operating System, Features and Apps

There are so many choices for you to find the best operating system (OS), features and apps that meet your unique needs. That’s why we suggest figuring out your options online or in a store to determine what the best operating system—such as Android and iOS (Apple)—as well as the devices and features that will suit your demands. Will you use it for work? Personal? Both? Is it for you or your child? Do you want to monitor or limit your child’s usage? What type of apps will you want to use?

Tip: Create a list on how you want to use your device. When you contact your wireless provider either via Internet or in a store, the salesperson can help narrow your choices based on this list. 

Tip: If the device you like best doesn’t come with certain features, there may be an app that performs a similar function. For example, if you want to remote lock, erase or track your smartphone in case it’s ever lost or stolen, you can download a variety of apps. If you want to be able to monitor or limit your child’s usage, there’s a list of apps for that as well.

Out-of-Pocket Cost

The out-of-pocket cost of the device will vary depending on whether you buy it unlocked, sign a contract or lease it. Many wireless providers offer subsidized rates for devices in exchange for a contract or lease obligating you to stay with that company for a period of time. 

Tip: Figure out how much you want to spend on the device to help narrow your choices. If you’re a person who wants to have the newest device as soon as it comes out, you may want to look at leasing your device or promotions that may give you the opportunity to upgrade more often. On the other hand, if you’re one who likes to keep your device for a long period of time, you may want a contract plan or buy your phone at retail price without any contract or obligation. If you’re an international traveler or want to be able to use your device on a variety of networks, an unlocked device may be best. 

Location and Providers

There are hundreds of mobile devices available in the market today. However, some device brands and models may not be available from all of wireless providers. In addition, due to technical differences on wireless networks, the device may not be optimized or work on other networks. Where will you predominantly use your mobile device? Do you stay close to home? Do you travel across America or the world? Do you prefer a certain local, regional or national wireless provider? 

Tip: Visit our “How to Choose a Plan” page to help you determine which service plan is best for your usage since it’s closely tied to where you’ll most frequently use your device and preferred wireless provider. 

Special Needs

If you are a senior or have disabilities, CTIA member companies offer a wide variety of devices with special features and there are a number of apps available to ensure your wireless device meets your needs.

Tip: is a great resource to help identify your device and service options so you can find the best that fits your needs.

Last Updated October 2016