Which Cell Phone And Service Is Right for You?

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Shopping for a new cell phone or a new plan can be a daunting experience. Which phone fits your needs? And which service is best for you?

Tonight I break down the options . . . !!!

Each person's needs are different. And each cell phone company caters to those different needs. Industry experts say that your best bet for getting the right phone and service is to ask the right questions.

What do you want out of your service?

Some consumers say "coverage." For others it is "reliability. I want to have the same signal strength wherever I go".

It's one of the first questions a cell phone sales representative will ask.

So on to the next question . . . what features do you want?

"Whether it be camera phones, Internet options, or if they're just looking for something that's new and neet to work with," says Bejay Mukhopadhyay, a cell phone sales representative.

Next question is where do you live - and where do you travel?

"A lot of people - especially if they're living within the Reno area and they're not doing a lot of traveling. Cricket isn't a bad service to go with because it gives them unlimited usage within this market, however that coverage is very small, " Mukhopadhyay says.

Cricket phones only work in Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Sun Valley and Lemmon Valley. A basic plan is $29.99 a month - a good deal for parents of teenagers who don't want skyrocketing bills.

But what if you're looking for more?

"If you can get a good national plan.. I think it's worth it," says Mukhopadhyay. He says national plans will cost you more - but there are benefits.

As far as Sprint's national plans are concerned . . . "They allow the customers to travel outside the market to pretty much any major city across the nation," he says.

Mukhopadhyay says Sprint has also just introduced a walkie talkie feature. Nextel phones also have a walkie-talkie feature, but tend to be larger. But he says, with that size comes more sturdiness.

AT&T plans work for a specific traveler.

"AT&T is one of the few companies that covers markets like Winnemucca and Tonopah," Mukhopadhyay says.

T-Mobile can be a good choice for those who do lots of international travelling - but the service has no roaming feature. That means if you're in the middle of nowhere, your phone won't work.

For those looking for a family plan - use caution.

Most plans allow two or more phones to share a pool of minutes. But if you go over your limit it can get expensive . . . as high as 40 or 45 cents a minute.

There are other factors to consider as well.

First, when you purchase your phone you must realize your buying a service as well . . . a service you sign a contract for.

Second, ask how much you'll be charged for activation. Charges can be up to $36 depending on the provider.

Next, ask your friends and family about their service. What do they like and dislike about it?

And finally, check into instant and mail-in rebates - and don't forget to ask about due dates to make sure you get your money.

Tomorrow night on KOLO News Channel 8 we'll discuss the pros and cons of having your cell phone be your only phone.