Holiday Gift Guide 2011
Nov 22, 2011, 8:37 PM by Eric M. Zeman
With the holiday shopping season upon us -- heck, it's staring us dead in the eye -- it's time to start putting together shopping lists. If your friends or loved ones need a new mobile device, Phone Scoop did all the heavy lifting for you and put together this simple guide to help you select the perfect gift.
Hard to believe it's that time of year again, but here we are once again facing Turkey Day and Black Friday.
With the holiday shopping season officially kicking off this week, Phone Scoop has prepared its annual buyer's guide to help you navigate through the dozens of phones that are available at each of the major carriers. We've looked at what AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless are offering and picked the cream of the crop for the discerning gift giver.
We did our best to keep prices low. Many of the phones on our list this year retail in the $50 to $100 range, though the top-tier smartphones are priced closer to $200. Keep in mind that holiday sales may drop prices even lower. In fact, retailers such as Amazon and RadioShack are already offering high-end smartphones for a penny and even for free. If a deal is what you're looking for, this is the week to get one.
Phone Scoop believes the first step in choosing the right phone for someone is to choose the right carrier. Finding the right device is important, but picking the carrier with the best combination of coverage and calling plans is often the best place to start. Also, keep in mind that many people are invested in their relationship with a carrier and might want to stick with what they have.
This year saw an interesting phenomenon: the near-death of the feature phone. Sure, plenty of basic phones are still available from the likes of LG, Kyocera, Pantech, Samsung, and Huawei, but many of the phones released this year fall into the smartphone category. Take quick messaging phones, for example. Feature phones with QWERTY keyboards and dual displays were all the rage in 2007 - 2009. They were inexpensive, and didn't necessarily require a data plan. Now, the category has essentially vanished, only to be replaced by low-cost Android smartphones that have QWERTY keyboards.
Phone Scoop believes the best way to pick phones for people is based on how that person will use their phone. As long as you know the person you're shopping for and what they tend to like, you should have no problems picking the right carrier and the right phone for him or her.
After you've picked out the perfect phone, there's still one more thing to do. When you or the lucky person you're giving a phone to has moved everything off of the old phone, don't just toss it in your junk drawer or a closet corner, recycle it. If you want to know anything about phone recycling, from reasons to do it to where to take your phone, check out our Cell Phone Recycling Guide.
911 Only: Phones for young kids that are more for parents' piece of mind.
Over the weekend, I attended a birthday party for a 7-year-old who received her first cell phone. While I don't agree with the idea of giving a phone to a kid that young, you may feel differently. If you're the type of parent who wants your kid to be able to reach you -- or if you want to be able to reach your kid yourself -- when urgent needs arise, then these handsets are a good place to start. These phones are likely going to be free if tacked onto a Family Plan, but shouldn't cost more than a few bucks if there is a price tag. They are also a bit on the smaller side to better match the smaller hands that will be using them.
For the tweeners who are slightly more serious about being in contact with friends and know a think or two about looks.
What's most important to younger teens? Being able to reach out to their friends if and when they want or need to. But of course they're already style conscious and want a phone that fits with the in-crowd (or at least doesn't leave them feeling like a lame duck). That means they would like a phone that is good at text messaging, but also provides a richer feature set than any entry-level device could provide. The devices listed below all have cameras, web browsers, and access to apps for a little bit of extra added fun.
A messaging maniac's primary use for his or her phone is texting. Making calls? So 20th Century!
These days, many people use their phones to send text, picture, or instant messages more than they do to make phone calls. What makes texting easier? Having a full QWERTY keyboard, of course. Luckily, QWERTY keyboard phones are widely available from all the carriers and many of them have evolved into smartphones. These devices all have a full array of messaging services on-board, which include mobile email, MMS, SMS, and IM -- and of course Facebook and Twitter, too. Any of the devices below will help your loved one get (and give) the message!
Robust Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ apps a must for this crowd of social butterflies.
Facebook's growth has been nothing short of amazing. Nearly everyone is signed up these days, and if not, well, you probably don't really want to contact them, anyway. The most interesting posts we see day in and day out on those networks are sent from mobile phones. This list of phones provides full clients for the major social networking services or at the very least a solid third-party social networking alternative. People who feel the need to send status updates wherever they happen to be (from the bathroom, really?!?) will be pleased that they can also attach photos not only to Twitter and Facebook posts, but also upload to services such as Flickr and Picasa. If your shopping list includes someone who is constantly over-sharing their experiences, this is the type of phone they need.
The senior set needs cell phones these days, too -- even if only for making phone calls. Big buttons and big text don't hurt, either.
Everyone loves to receive a phone call from their grandmother, right? Make sure they have a phone with which to call you. This list of phones leans towards the entry-level side of things, but offers features that matter: good call quality, and epic battery life, in addition to easy-to-use hardware, and simple feature sets. Grandma and grandpa may not be the savviest tech users on earth, but these will still make them feel like they are part of the in-crowd. Just don't forget to call them on their birthday.
Work email support is mandatory; must also be able to support business-grade apps; security features a bonus.
If your friend or loved one checks their email before they get out of bed or hit the bathroom first thing in the morning, they are probably a workaholic and need a phone such as one of these. This collection of smartphones is for the busy professional who needs to not only have constant email flowing to their phone, but access to corporate calendar and contact databases, as well. But that's not all. Their phone also needs to run business-grade applications that help them remain productive throughout the day. These phones all do that. They all also have a rich set of media features so that special someone can relax for a few moments and browse the web, enjoy a tune, or play a game in between meetings.
These users are the ultimate distraction seekers. They're always bored and looking to be entertained. That's why phones that excel at movie and music playback are a must.
Nearly all phones come with a media player of sorts, but this lot doesn't want any old MP3 player, they want an awesome video experience with a large, bright screen and the oompth to make it magical. These devices all have highly capable music players and provide some fun extras such as links to music-sharing and music-streaming services, as well as robust content stores from which they can make purchases. It probably doesn't hurt that some of these phones have displays larger than 4.5 inches.
This group isn't looking for a phone with a camera attached, they are looking for a camera with a phone attached.
The shutterbug would prefer to have an SLR around their neck at all times, but that gets to be impractical and uncomfortable, too. That means they have to have a solid alternative nearby at all times, and luckily these phones can provide that alternative. This list is made up of devices that have cameras rating 8 megapixels. Not only do they score high on the megapixel front, they also have good software controlling the camera, produce good photos, have on-board photo editing tools, as well as links to every social network on earth. After all, what good's a photo if you can't share it with anyone?
These phones represent the fastest of the fast when it comes to wireless networks. Whether its Long Term Evolution, WiMax, or HSPA+, these phones got the juice!
Not only do these phones have access to the speediest wireless networks available, they have a solid set of features. They pack multi-core processors, the latest operating systems, excellent screens and media powers, and good looks to boot. Sure, OK, perhaps battery life is a bit lacking, but the 4G fanatic doesn't care about such things!
The best phones to choose when you only care about making phone calls.
There's always that one person on your list who dislikes cell phones. If they absolutely *have* to have one, it doesn't need to do more than make voice calls. For the ultimate bargain hunters, the cheapest way to stay connected is to buy a phone that doesn't require any add-ons that rack up charges on your monthly bill. No text messages, no data plans, just the minutes you need, plus free nights and weekends, of course. We've picked out a selection of phones that are available free with a contract agreement, and they still pack the basics like Bluetooth and a camera. But the best part is you'll only have to pay for your minutes, nothing more.
This selection of phones offers good voice performance, plus the all-important QWERTY keyboard for messaging plans.
If you have a teenager at home, or if you're trying to stay connected to your kids, you're going to need a phone that can handle text messaging. Kids send a ridiculous amount of texts every month, so you'll want a plan that offers plenty of messages, and of course some minutes if you can actually get them on the phone. Web browsing isn't so important, but you'll need a modern phone that will appease their sense of style, without emptying your wallet. These phones all offer a slide-out keyboard design, cameras and Bluetooth, and you can find most of them free, or for bargain prices if you buy them refurbished.
Smartphones that are free or less than $50 out of pocket.
Sure, calling and text messaging are important, but sometimes you want more in a phone. The problem is, you can't throw down $200 for a fancy device that packs more power than your laptop computer. Instead, check out these smartphones. A couple of the phones are free when you sign a new contract, and the rest come in well under $100, so you won't have to choose between buying a new phone and paying the rent. But don't let that low price fool you. These are all capable devices, perfect for real Web browsing and keeping up with your Facebook friends.
Suggestions for those who need or want no-contract or pre-paid services.
If your friend or loved one is shy about signing a two-year contract, then perhaps pre-paid is the way to go. Not only do these devices offer decent feature sets, they provide the type of flexibility that some people need when it comes to their monthly budget. We've included devices that are available from the four major network providers plus a couple of the near-national pre-paid carriers. They cost under $50.
|What No US Cellular phone pick!?||geoslay53||
|I think you got the phones for "Kids" and "Seniors" backward for AT&T||Jellz||
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