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Myths and Facts about Shopping for Cell Phones & Smartphones

Shopping for a new smartphone or cell phone? If so, then it's important to get up to speed on the hottest products and the latest market trends -- and that means separating myths from facts. Most people know what they'd like to be able to do with their new mobile devices, but what they're often (unknowingly) uncertain about is which types of phones will best serve their purposes. Also, when comparing deals from the leading cellular providers, it's important to understand exactly what you're being offered. Whether your goal is saving money or getting the latest and greatest tech, this guide can help you differentiate between fact and fiction when shopping for a new phone.

8 Active Myths | Suggest a Myth
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MYTH: It's easy for anyone to get a free cell phone.

Free phones with long-term contracts used to be extremely common, but now those deals are hard to find. Most major carriers now offer no-money-down deals instead. However, if you are a low-income earner, you may be eligible to receive truly free cell phone services through the federal Lifeline Assistance program.

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FACT: You can easily get a top-rated smartphone for no money down.

It's true! The leading cellular providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offer the latest smartphones for no money down. Instead of pay for retail up front, you'll make payments on your hardware over the course of one to two years, depending on your contract. This is a great way to get that phone you want without having to fork over so much cash all at once.

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FACT: Be wary of older cell phones if you're enthusiastic about apps and games.

This isn't to say you can't save money on an older phone that works with everything you need -- you can. However, if you're heavily into trying new apps and games, then you may want to think twice if you're deciding between a newer phone and an older model. The older your phone's hardware, the more likely you are to encounter compatibility issues when working with different apps. Also, older phone hardware may underperform on newer versions of operating systems.

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MYTH: The higher the megapixel rating, the better the cell phone camera.

Don't be fooled by a high megapixel rating if your goal is to buy a new phone with a great camera. Most new phones snap pics with high megapixel counts, but megapixels are only a reflection of image resolution, not image quality. Check online and read reviews about various phones to determine which ones have the better cameras. Never assume that more megapixels means better quality.

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MYTH: There's no difference between the best iOS, Windows and Android phones.

While the technological playing field has been leveled across the spectrum of smartphones, there are fundamental differences in how these mobile operating systems function. If you're on the market for a new phone, and you're not certain about which interface you prefer, then you shouldn't make a selection until you've thoroughly tested each platform. The way you interact with your phone could change dramatically based on your choice of Android, Windows or iOS.

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MYTH: All cell phone plans are pretty similar.

Don't ever settle for the first cellular plan that's pushed in front of your face, especially if it's a long-term contract plan. These days there are so many types of phone plans to choose from, such as friends & family plans, unlimited data plans, pay-as-you-go plans and even senior phone plans. Also, different cellular providers offer unique benefits to sweeten their deals. For example, T-Mobile offers free video and music streaming from several well-known sources (such as Netflix, Spotify and Hulu). You could miss out on great rates and benefits if you don't do your homework upfront.

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MYTH: Cell phones with better specs always perform better.

Generally speaking, cell phones with more memory and faster processors will outperform those with less capable hardware. However, better hardware doesn't automatically equal better performance. That's why it's always best to read reviews and find out exactly what each phone does best. It could be that a phone that's great for streaming videos isn't as outstanding for gaming or other kinds of apps.

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MYTH: Apple iPhones are more expensive than Samsung's Galaxy lineup.

Apple's iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy seem to be the top-rated models lately, and Apple has a reputation for being a bit on the expensive side. However, there's very little difference nowadays between the price points of industry-leading smartphones. Not only do cellular providers make these phones affordable with payment plans, but you can often get special deals such as free or discounted tablets with the purchase of a new high-end phone. When shopping, don't assume that a certain brand of phone will be out of your price range.