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Best Cell Phone Companies

Buying a cell phone means more than just picking up a phone to stay in touch. Read our guide to research and discover the best cell phone company for you. We explain what to look for when considering the growing number of cell phones and their modes of communication, including calls, video chat, emails and texts. 

Modern cell phones are accessible, intuitive and affordable. Cell phones are now much more than communication devices. Companies offer cell phones for seniors that have emergency help buttons. And, with access to the Internet and numerous applications, cell phones often serve as portable entertainment devices.

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Cell phone features that matter most

What communication options are available?

Cell phones are primarily used for communication, and getting the most out of your new phone means knowing exactly what communication options are available.

  • Calls: At their core, cell phones are built for direct conversation. Making sure your phone has a good, clear speaker and receiver should be a priority, especially if you plan on making a lot of calls.
  • Text messages: Nowadays, it seems more people communicate through text messaging than actual calls. Text messaging allows for quick communication and comes standard on most phones.
  • Video chats: Most smartphones are capable of video chat, either as a standard feature or a downloadable application.
  • Emails: Phones capable of internet access can usually receive email.

What kind of hardware do I need on my phone?

Not all cell phones come with the same hardware. Depending on how you plan to use your phone, you’ll want to make sure the phone has the right components to match your needs.

  • Storage space: The more apps you want to run on your phone, the more storage space you will need. Storage on smartphones is measured in gigabytes (GB). If you plan on using your phone for games and media, you will want to find a cell phone with at least 16 GB of space.
  • Processor: Now that phones are capable of running applications and games, processor speed, measured in gigahertz, has become an important point of cell phone hardware comparison. If you plan to run games or video, make sure your phone’s processor is capable of running at a speed of at least 1.1 gigahertz.
  • Display: If you’re looking to play video on your phone, you’ll want a good display. Resolution is measured by how many pixels can appear on the screen, calculated horizontally and vertically. The higher the resolution, the clearer your picture will be. A high definition display, for example, usually has 1920 by 1080 pixels. You will also want to take screen size into account as well. A larger screen can make video and gaming easier to see.
  • Camera: Today, many phones have cameras that can rival some of the more expensive digital cameras on the market. Camera resolution is measured in megapixels, and more megapixels means a clearer picture. The current high standard for camera phones is about 12 megapixels. If you plan on using your phone for taking pictures and video, look for a phone with a good camera.
  • Aux hookup: Most smartphones have an auxiliary headphone jack to connect your phone to speakers, headphones or headsets.
  • Bluetooth: Phones use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to other phones, tablets and computers or to peripherals like headphones and headsets.

Which operating system should I use?

All cell phones have operating systems (OS), but some models, especially smartphones, have more complex operating systems that offer different benefits. When choosing a phone, make sure you have a chance to test multiple operating systems to find the right one for you.

  • iOS: Apple’s iPhone line of smartphones runs on Apple’s iOS. It is a touch-based OS designed to be as intuitive as possible. Its interconnectivity with other Apple products and services make it an attractive prospect for users who already own Apple laptops or tablets.
  • Android OS: The Android mobile OS was developed by Google. It is a touchscreen OS that is used on a number of cell phone models and is capable of running many different applications. More phones run on Android than any other OS.
  • Windows Phone: A successor to Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, Windows Phones is a touch-based operating system for Microsoft’s smartphones. It hosts numerous features like Microsoft Office Mobile, connectivity to Microsoft’s Xbox game systems and access to many different applications.
  • Basic phone OS: The most basic standard cell phone has an OS capable of calling, text messaging, running a few games and, sometimes, basic email. There are various versions of these types of systems, but they are all designed to focus on simple, efficient communication.

Which smartphone applications are available?

If you’re deciding between a smartphone and a basic cell phone, knowing which applications are available for each phone may be a deciding factor.

  • Social media: Apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn allow users to stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues. If you’re looking to stay connected to an online community, make sure your phone can use various social media apps.
  • Media: Media apps like Netflix and Spotify can play video and music from your smartphone. If you intend to play media on your phone, make sure your phone has enough hard drive space and is capable of running the software you want.
  • Games: Mobile gaming has become a big contender in the world of entertainment. While basic smartphones will run some simple games, smartphones can run high-end, more complex games. If you want to use your phone for mobile gaming, make sure your phone has enough storage space and a powerful enough processor to run games smoothly.
  • News: Most major magazines and newspapers have apps that allow you to receive current and breaking news updates directly to your phone.
  • Business and finances: If you do a lot of mobile business or mobile banking, apps can allow you to monitor your business or finances remotely.

» MORE: How many people are addicted to their phones?

What type of cell phone plan do I need?

Buying a phone is the first step, but in order to use it, you will have to subscribe to some sort of plan for minutes, messaging and data. Whether you want to pay-as-you-go, set up a time for a limited plan or sign a contract for multiple years, cell phone carriers can usually find a plan right for you.

  • Contracts: Most cell phone companies offer their services on a contract. Signing a contract can often get you a discount on a phone. The length of the average contract is often one or two years.
  • Prepaid Phone: Prepaid phones are disposable numbers for temporary plans. Prepaid phones are set with a certain amount of minutes, and they can usually be canceled anytime.
  • Pay-as-you-go: Some prepaid phones can be upgraded with a pay-as-you-go plan. These plans allow you to pay money only as long as you wish to continue using the phone. This plan is best if you want the option to continue service without tying yourself to a particular carrier.

Types of cell phones

Standard cell phones

The standard, classic cell phones, sometimes called “brick” phones, are conventional models designed for simple calling and texting. Some basic phones may be able to access the internet and email, but most are designed to keep communication simple and direct.


Smartphones are cell phones that also function as multimedia devices. Smartphones can connect to the internet, access social networks, play high-end games, stream music and video, take photos and more. These phones require data plans to use online features.

» MORE: How many Americans own a smartphone?

Feature phones

Less common than basic cell phones and smartphones, feature phones have a limited OS that can open up access to a few select features like email, GPS services and Internet access. Feature phones are adequate middle-ground devices that can do more than a basic phone but lack the more robust abilities of a smartphone.

Flip phones

Flip phones are standard or feature phones that fold and unfold for compact portability. They are generally made for simple communication purposes.

Rugged phones

Rugged cell phones are standard phones capable of use in harsh conditions. These devices are usually waterproof and are available as standard phones and flip phones.

People who use cell phones


Families of all sizes who want to stay in touch will need to have cell phones. Cell phones allow family members to communicate with each other no matter the distance between them. You can talk to family around the world with cell phones, often without paying long-distance fees.

Mobile workers

If you’re constantly on the road for business, you likely need a cell phone to keep in contact with clients and coworkers.

Social media users

Smartphones grant you constant access to your social media profiles. If you’re someone who likes to update their Facebook, Instagram or Twitter profiles on the go, you’ll want a smartphone capable of hosting social media apps.

Tech enthusiasts

The cell phone landscape is changing constantly. Staying current means investing in new tech as it becomes available.


Mobile gaming has become a driving force in game development. Having a phone capable of running mobile games is a good way to feed your gaming habits.

Movie and music lovers

With cell phones, you can take music and movies with you wherever to go. If you’re a subscriber to streaming services like Netflix or Spotify, you can use those services via apps for your smartphone.

» MORE: Cell phone statistics 2023

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