Tips for buying a new mobile device
How to buy the right mobile device for you or your family this holiday season.
As Christmas approaches, gift buying and self-shopping ramps up, and mobile phones are usually at the top of many people’s tech shopping list.
From December to January, many Australians take the opportunity of holiday sales to shop around, not only for the best mobile, but also for the best mobile plan.
With 2021 being touted as the ‘Year of 5G’ and an increasing number of 5G devices on the market, along with new, second-hand, and refurbished 4G mobiles, there are now a wide range of mobile phone and plan options available.
So how do you determine the best mobile device and service option to suit your needs and budget?
If your current phone isn’t cutting it, a new model has a feature that you just need to have, or you are looking to buy a mobile as a gift for someone in your family, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) recommends that you consider the following four things when buying a new mobile device.
1.Understand your phone contract and plan
With many different mobile phones and plans available from various mobile service providers, choosing a mobile device and plan that suits your needs means it’s important to explore the options and be an informed consumer before you decide to buy.
A post-paid plan can be a great option for many people looking to buy a new mobile phone as you can pay for the handset over the term of a contract, which can last from 12-24 months.
However, before signing a contract, make sure that the plan matches your usage and needs, and that you understand the terms and conditions in your Critical Information Summary (CIS), including the mobile device repayments, usage charges and data allowance limits. Remember that whoever signs the contract is responsible for ensuring that the terms and conditions of the contract are met, including paying all the bills for the full term of the contract.
If you’re not sure of your data usage patterns, consider an appropriate prepaid option, which is a pay as you go option, as a first step. This type of plan does not include a phone and will require you to bring your own device (BYOD) as you are just paying for the network connection and usage from a mobile service provider.
Buying a mobile phone upfront is often a fairly significant financial commitment, so it can be useful to touch base with your mobile service provider to see what offers are available to best suit your needs.
2. Make sure you know your coverage
While it’s important to choose the right mobile device and plan to suit your needs, network coverage is another key element to consider.
You should look at coverage information provided by mobile carriers and discuss whether the mobile device and service that you are buying will work where it is intended to be used, such as at home, at work, on holiday or other places regularly visited.
You can simply do this by checking your mobile service provider’s coverage maps, with most providers offering interactive online coverage maps. Coverage maps are intended as a guide so if in doubt check with the mobile service provider directly about detailed coverage information.
As the 5G network roll-out accelerates in Australia, there are more 5G capable devices hitting stores. If accessing the speed and capacity performance of 5G is important to you, you should not only check if the mobile device you are looking at purchasing has 5G capabilities, you should also consider whether 5G coverage is, or will become available in your area by checking roll out maps and talking to your mobile service provider.
3. Buying a second-hand or refurbished mobile
Buying a second-hand or refurbished mobile can also be an option.
If you decide to buy a second-hand or refurbished mobile, the most important thing is to make sure that you are purchasing it from a reputable seller or retailer. Otherwise, you risk buying a phone that may never turn up, or may have been stolen and be blocked, which means that you won’t be able to use it on an Australian mobile network.
Before you buy a second-hand mobile, you should see if the phone has been blocked by checking the status of the phone using its International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, a unique 15-digit serial number that all phones have. AMTA provides this free checking service online at – https://amta.org.au/check-the-status-of-your-handset/
It is also worth requesting proof of ownership from the seller before you purchase the phone. This will help protect you if the seller subsequently reports the phone as lost or stolen once you have purchased it, which can result in the phone being blocked. This is a common scam and highlights the need for a buyer beware approach when it comes to purchasing second-hand devices.
When buying a second-hand device in person, some other things to check before parting with your cash include the screen responsiveness, the sound elements like speakers and headphone jacks, and the front and back camera.
If you have an old mobile, another option to consider is seeing if your manufacturer or carrier offer the opportunity to trade it in for credits or a discount towards a new model.
4. Getting the right phone for your needs
When choosing a phone for yourself or as a gift have fun exploring all the features on offer to ensure you get what you want, such as display size, camera quality and data storage capacity. There are many price points to help match your budget, so you can make an informed decision in choosing the right handset.
Smartphones also come with many built-in accessibility features that are helpful for people living with disability and/or those who experience limitations in hearing, vision, dexterity or learning ability. There are also many mobile apps designed to assist people who have specific accessibility requirements.
If you need accessibility features, you can easily compare features of mobile phone models from different manufacturers available in Australia on the Accessible Telecoms website. It also allows you to search for apps based on accessibility needs and provides a list of app options that you can download for different operating systems.
When buying a phone for your child it is also worth understanding what parental controls are available. Most smartphone operating systems, including Apple and Android, have in-built parental controls that can assist in limiting access to internet content, as well as setting parameters for usage and apps, providing parents or guardians with some important control options.
When buying a phone for yourself or someone else there is always advice available from your service provider which can make it easier to get the best use of all your mobile device has to offer.