Are you frustrated with all the choices you have to make when choosing a business cell phone and service plan? It doesn't have to be complicated. Assuming you aren't looking for the latest ubergizmo cell phone, the following three steps are all you need to help you pick the cell phone that's right for your business.
Step One: Figure Out the Cell Phone Coverage You Need
Step one involves figuring out where you are going to be using your new cell phone. Do you work in the city or the country? Also, do you often travel aboard and intend to use your phone around the world?
If you work primarily in US metropolitan areas, you don't have to worry about whether you need a GSM, CDMA or TDMA phone -- they all work pretty well. On the other hand, if you work in rural, remote or undeveloped areas, your best bet is a CDMA or TDMA phone since these providers have the best coverage in rural/undeveloped areas.
CDMA and TDMA providers include Verizon Wireless and Sprint-Nextel.
On the other hand, if you intend to use your cell phone while abroad, GSM is the communications standard used outside of North America. If you purchase a GSM phone so that you can use it abroad, you need to make sure the phone is purchased "unlocked", which means that the phone is not tied to a specific network. With an unlocked GSM cell phone, you can easily swap out the SIM card (a white chip usually behind the battery) with local country, prepaid SIM cards to avoid expensive roaming charges. These local country SIM cards are often available in corner stores in most countries.
In the US, GSM providers include Cingular and T-Mobile.
Step Two: Figure Out the Cell Phone Rate Plan You Need
Once you've figured out where you are going to be primarily using your new cell phone, the next step is to figure out what business rate plan is the most economical for your needs. Most providers offer different plans based around buckets of minutes that are allocated between different time periods in a day and/or week.
If you are going to be using the phone primarily during the day, you'll need a plan that will give you the maximum number of minutes when the sun is up. On the other hand, if you are going to be using your new cell phone primarily on the weekends, you'll need a plan that gives you the maximimum number of minutes on Saturday and Sunday. Those are the two extremes--other plans offer some combination of weekday daytime, evenings and weekend minutes.
If you are unsure of your calling patterns, take advantage of the free first-month promotions offered by many providers to figure out when you make your calls and then switch your plan accordingly if necessary. Many phone companies will analyze your cell phone usage if asked to and will recommend a plan that minimizes your monthly cost.
Step Three: Buy Your New Cell Phone
If you are going to be buying a GSM phone because you intend to travel and use the phone abroad, stick to tri-band/tri-mode phones. These phones can operate on a multitude of frequencies that various operators abroad may use. Otherwise, don't worry about whether the phone is tri-band/tri-mode or dual-mode.
Other than that one consideration, choosing a cell phone is all a matter of taste. Generally speaking, if you enter into a one-year or two-year contract, the phone provider will often give away a cell phone that would otherwise cost many hundreds of dollars. That's usually your best bet but be careful of early-termination clauses that can impose a penalty of $200 or more.