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Buying Guides in Mobile Handsets

Pick a service provider
Buying a cell phone is more than a matter of choosing a handset--you also have to pick a service provider. or carrier. as well. Each carrier in the India offers a different selection of technologies and services. so it's important to think about your needs when making a choice. For that reason. selecting a carrier should be the first step in the cell phone buying process.

Twisting technology
Wireless carriers in the India operate over two different networks: Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Though each technology transmits voice and data. they do so in different ways. which makes them incompatible. As a result. you can't take a CDMA phone and use it on GSM or vice versa.

10 key features to consider

Organizer applications: Even the most basic handsets offer organizer applications. Typically. you'll find a calendar. an alarm clock. a stopwatch. and a calculator. Higher-end handsets will have many more options. while other models will offer offbeat applications such as a compass or a thermometer.

Phone book and voice dialing: Consider how many contacts you can store. Voice dialing lets you make calls without using the keypad. which is particularly handy when you're on a headset or if you're using the speakerphone.

Web browser: This lets you surf the wireless Web and get information such as news and sports recaps. weather reports. and stock quotes. It also lets you download files including games and ring tones. WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) browsers are optimized to view sites configured to display on small. mobile devices but keep in mind that not all sites are made for WAP browsing. On the other hand. some newer. high-end phones are including full HTML browsers so find out which you'd prefer. You can use some Internet-ready phones as a modem for your PC. but you'll need to purchase the proper data cables to take advantage of this feature.

Messaging and e-mail: Text messages send text only. and multimedia messages send pictures and videos as well as text. Some handsets support instant messaging from services such as AOL and Yahoo. If you'd like to receive personal or work e-mail on your handset. make sure it supports this feature. Messaging and e-mail does cost extra. however. so consider purchasing a data plan if you'll be using the features frequently. You might also consider a phone with an integrated keyboard for faster typing.

Camera and video recorder: Use them for taking pictures and shooting brief video clips. Some have a low-grade VGA resolution. but many camera phones now have resolutions of a few megapixels or more. which offer much better photo quality. Similarly. while some camera phones offer just a few extra features. other models offer a flash and editing options that resemble those on a regular camera.

Speakerphone/conference calling: A speakerphone is useful for hands-free calling when you're driving or multitasking. Consider getting a unit with a full-duplex speakerphone. which allows both parties to speak at the same time. Business travelers who need to set up impromptu meetings will want to look at a phone that supports conference calling.

Push to talk: A walkie-talkie-like service that lets you immediately connect with individuals or call groups. which is especially useful for business users who need instant contact with their colleagues. Best of all. you don't need a cell signal to use them and you won't use standard calling minutes. Not all carriers offer this feature. however.

Bluetooth: This feature lets you wirelessly connect via low-frequency radio waves with external devices. such as a headset for making calls. Many phones also allow you to use Bluetooth to exchange or sync data with other Bluetooth devices or to connect to stereo headphones to listen to music

Multimedia options and memory: Some features to look for include a digital music player. support for MP3 files. and an FM radio. Also. many phones now support streaming video and videoconferencing through 3G wireless broadband networks. and other handsets can download music over the air. There will be an extra fee. of course. and you'll need 3G service in your area. For the best experience with a multimedia phone. make sure your phone has plenty of storage space (an external memory card slot is best). and consider whether you want dedicated music controls on the exterior of the phone

Accessories. applications. and personalization options: Some phones come in multiple colors or allow for changeable faceplates. Accessories such as Bluetooth headsets. speakers. or SIM card readers also are available. but make sure it's specifically designed for your phone of choice. Most models offer a variety of customization options as well. These can include a choice of display wallpaper. screen savers. and ring tones. If personalizing your phone is important to you. make sure you have a lot of options before buying a particular model. Handsets will also differ on their support for extra applications. Though every cell phone supports games not every model comes with integrated titles. In that case. you'll have to buy them for a few dollars a pop. and your selection will change by carrier. Extra applications are available depending on your phone model and your carrier.