From your Nokia brick through to the latest iPhone X, buying your new phone has become an event - albeit an expensive one. Check out our quick guide to mobile phones, just to get a reality check on what you need.
Long gone are the days of just a few mobile phones from which you can choose your next essential gadget. Nowadays mobile phone shops are littered with the latest models, brands and each with their own range of accessories - you can even go sim only if you wish too!
When first choosing a new phone, pretty much the key thing you should ask yourself is what you need it for. This will massively change which model you NEED to buy, let alone which one you were thinking of to start with.
Smartphones now can do just about everything you need. But if you're into Instagram or Vimeo, then buying a phone that allows you to download an app to post your videos and images immediately will be a definite bonus. On the theme of videos, if you're a keen video maker, then certain smartphones contain amazing lens and video technology, giving you the chance to create videos on the fly that are of superb quality.
Lazy in the extreme and can't be bothered to plug your phone in to charge? Look at phones with good battery life and easy ways to turn off all unessential apps to conserve power then. Or, look for phones that come with smart charging - where you just need to put the phone on a charging pad to boost the battery.
Working out the relevant uses for the phone could save you making an expensive mistake on a great phone - that doesn't do what you need it to. Then you have to wait 2 years to get the right one.
What you might not know is that pretty much every mobile phone can be bought free of a network so you can choose at anytime which network to go with. The biggest thing you need to be aware of is the price. A handset may cost you £500 to buy, but for unlimited calls and texts and 10GB bandwidth each month you may only pay £10 from someone like GiffGaff.
Unlike Vodafone, Organe or Three, if you want to change to a different SIM provider that has a better deal, then simply switch the SIM card - no unlock codes required, no contracts to unpick. Over the life of a phone, it will also be up to 50% cheaper than a contract too.
The contract phones, or monthly, will be from £20 per month up to as much as £80 a month for a new iPhone. Sounds reasonable - it's not that much. But consider a full year and 12 x £80 = £960. Usually you will be tied in to a 24 month contract for this value of phone, which means you will pay out a minimum of £1920 over two years for a phone worth £1000. So that's £920 for your calls, bandwidth and texts. Who do you know who would use that much?
This may come down to how much you need your phone and whether you have a number of old phones that you can use in case of an emergency. Mobile phone insurance can be expensive (although it seems inexpensive at the time when you consider the price of the phone itself). From £7 a month, your phone can be fully insured and covered for dropping down the toilet, screen breakages and more.
But before you jump in and sign up, think about how you need your phone, how you use it and what type of case you have for your phone for protection.
First and foremost, buy some Gorilla GLass for the screen. These protective glass screens will take a huge amount of stress and knocks before it smashes - protecting the LCD screen of your phone below. Inexpensive, it's a must for anyone with a phone worth more than an old banger.
The amount of accessories available will vary depending on which phone you buy. All mobiles come with a regular charger but you may also be able to get one specifically design for a car. They allow you to use the car as a power source by plugging them into the cigarette lighter socket.
Most cars and phones now come as standard with Bluetooth. This means you can pair them and then talk using the phone without having to use your hands. From voice control through to calls, new cars will have an interface that makes this is a great way to be safe in your car.
As you will know, it's now illegal to talk on the phone while you are driving, so if you have the need, you'll have to install a car kit. There are many generic kits that sit basically in any car and allow you to speak on hands-free using extra speakers and microphone. Alternatively you may go through your car dealer to fit an official version. These are likely to be of better quality and well hidden.
Normal hands-free kits are also available using a single ear-piece either wired directly to the phone, or more recently using the newer Bluetooth technology.