Choosing a Device

As the world’s leaders in wireless technology, U.S. wireless companies are constantly introducing new devices with innovative features and services. 

Today’s mobile phones are marvels of on-the-go technology – a messaging device, camera, music player, video streamer, Web browser, GPS navigation guru, game player and much more – all in one compact case.

With so many options, picking the “right” device is a challenge, which is why CTIA developed these questions to help you compare your options so you pick the “best” device for you. 

1. What features do you want on a new device?
Do you want to be able to type on a physical keyboard or do you like the slimmer profile of a touchscreen? Do you want to store music, record and watch videos, take pictures and share them? Do you only want a device for phone calls and text messages? Do you want to be able to take notes or fill out forms on the go? Do you need it to be waterproof or ruggedized? Depending on how you answer these questions, you may want a smartphone, feature phone or tablet. You may also want a device with an extra protective screen or enclosed case.

2. How much does the device cost?

Does the price differ if you sign a term contract or lease the device? Does the device require a specific service plan? Many wireless providers offer subsidized rates for devices in exchange for a commitment to stay with their service for a period of time. Some devices may require certain service plans, so it is good to compare service providers and contracts before making a choice. Some carriers are now offering the chance to lease a device, yet another option that may make sense for your household.

3. Where do you plan to use the device?

Do you travel internationally? Around the world, countries may use different spectrum bands and technologies than those used by U.S. service providers. If you plan to use the device in the U.S. and are frequently visiting other countries, you may want to consider devices that work in those countries. Your wireless provider can help you select a device that includes the appropriate spectrum bands and technology.

4. Does this device offer locks, erasing and/or tracking software, anti-virus software and other security measures?

Newer devices often come with built-in capabilities to remotely lock, wipe or track in the event of loss or theft. If it doesn’t, you can download apps that do. You may want to ask your wireless provider if it offers any of these features for free or for a fee. The same is true for anti-virus software and other security measures.

5. If you want to impose limits on how your kids use a device, such as parental control tools, restrictions on texting or data usage, third-party billing, etc., does this device offer those features?

Some devices have these features built in. If not, you can download apps to restrict and monitor usage. You also may want to ask your wireless provider if it offers any of these control features for free or for a fee. 

6. What devices are available from your current wireless service provider?

There are hundreds of mobile devices available in the market today, and service providers offer their customers a wide range of them. However, not all device brands or models may be available from a given service provider. Check with your provider to see the devices that are available to use on its network. 

7. Do you want to switch service providers and use your current device?

If you want to keep your current device, will it work on the new service provider’s network? Due to differences in hardware, operating systems and networks, not all devices are interoperable for other networks. If you want to keep your current device, before agreeing to move your wireless service, ask your potential provider if the device will work on its network. Also, be sure you have fulfilled any contract or lease terms with your current provider or be prepared to pay any penalty for early termination of a contract. In addition, you may have to ask your current provider to “unlock” your device so you can transfer your service.

8. Do you have any special needs to consider in selecting a wireless device?

If you are a senior or have disabilities, AccessWireless.org is a great resource for information on finding the best wireless device and service for your needs.

Last updated: March 2016
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