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Top tips for choosing a smartphone

Choosing a smartphone can be a complex task, so we’re here to tell you what you should – and shouldn’t – look for.

If you have a contract already and are due for an upgrade, make sure you contact your existing provider and ask what new handsets are available. And there’s nothing wrong with taking that price into a store to try and match it

And, if you’re wanting to sign up for a new contract, make sure you’ve finished the mandatory period of your existing deal before signing up for something new!

Software

The most popular phone operating system is now Google’s Android – there are huge numbers of devices available using this from the likes of Sony Ericsson, HTC and Samsung. iOS is the operating system used by Apple’s iPhone. Both are easy to use. We’ll also see more handsets featuring Windows – branded as Windows Phones and these are certainly worth considering. Nokia, Samsung and HTC already produce these.

Apps

Apple’s App Store is best for choice when it comes to installing extra software on your phone – the store has over half a million apps, a quarter of which are completely free. Android has over a quarter of a million apps available. Microsoft’s Windows Phone Marketplace lags behind, with apps in the low thousands, but there’s still plenty of choice including many of the big names such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon Kindle and IMDB.

Hardware

Most smartphones are very capable mini computers with processors of 1GHz or more. The best also have dual-core processors. Also look for the quality of the camera, if that’s important to you, as well as the quality of the screen – many lower end smartphones don’t have the super bright displays found on the iPhone 4 and 4S as well as other high-end handsets such as the HTC Sensation and Samsung Galaxy S2.

Also look for the amount of on-board memory – often 16 or 32GB – as that dictates how much music and apps you can download onto the device.

Contract and cost

Do do your research before signing up to a deal (yes, we know that’s why you’re here) but make sure you’re happy with the network, length of contract and monthly cost. Smartphones are, basically, handheld computers and are expensive little trinkets; most contracts are two years and you may – in the case of new handsets like the iPhone 4S – need to pay a little extra up front for the privilege of owning such up-to-date hardware.

If you want a brand new model, expect to be paying around the £35 a month mark, though cheaper deals are available for older models such as the HTC Desire S and iPhone 3GS.

Insurance

Finally, it’s definitely worth getting insurance for your handset. We don’t recommend getting this at the point of purchase where it can cost you rather too much; instead, shop around for it. Many insurance companies are charging a premium for iPhone insurance when actually many other high-end handsets are just as valuable to replace.

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