Handset Selection

Be very careful when selecting a handset. Each carrier sells handsets that vary in their capabilities, including which networks they can work with. For example, Verizon sells handsets with and without AMPS capability. Sprint sells handsets with and without 800 Mhz CDMA capability, AT&T sells GSM only handsets, GSM/TDMA handsets, and GSM/TDMA/AMPS handsets. Cingular sells GSM only handsets and GSM/TDMA/AMPS handsets.

A very good site to search for phones by features is www.phonescoop.com. I am not going to try to duplicate the extensive database on www.phonescoop.com.

Remember to look at battery life, high speed data capability, analog capability, speakerphone capability, battery life, synchronization software, synchronization hardware (USB, serial, and/or infrared) voice activated dialing, vibration alert, messaging capability, and accessory cost and availability. Also search Usenet (Google Groups) for owner's views on voice quality and reliability.

There is NO "World Phone." A world phone would combine GSM 900Mhz & GSM 1800Mhz, AMPS, and either a) TDMA 800Mhz & 1900Mhz or b) CDMA 800Mhz and 1900Mhz, or c) GSM 850Mhz and 1900Mhz. A world phone will be a reality only when the U.S. has pervasive GSM coverage, and even then it will not work in several large countries.

Is a True World Phone Possible?

Yes, with Qualcomm's new MSM6000 chipset it is possible to build a phone that works with AMPS, CDMA, & GSM at all the presently used frequencies (800 Mhz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz, 1900 Mhz). While U.S. GSM providers would not be interested in such a phone, Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, definitely would benefit since it would eliminate the issue of international roaming. Samsung is already designing a phone with this chipset, but there is no mention of whether or not is includes the AMPS capability which is so vital in the United States.

There are not going to be any cool new phones released for TDMA since phone manufacturers don't want to spend money developing new products for a technology that is being phased out.

Check Usenet for user comments on phones, since buying a phone based only on features is like buying a car based only on price and included equipment. You also need to look at quality, user interface, voice quality, and reception quality.

The coolest phones are for GSM networks, though finally we are seeing some improvements in CDMA phones.

Handset Recommendations

I do not make recommendations on camera phones, as I believe that it is a ridiculous feature. There are plenty of small digital cameras that take excellent photos without the expense of sending photos via wireless.

CDMA (Verizon & Sprint)

CDMA/AMPS on Verizon: Motorola T730, Motorola V60s, Nokia 3589

CDMA/AMPS on Sprint: I am not familiar with Sprint's handsets. Be certain to buy what Sprint calls "Dual Band/Tri-Mode," since these phones can roam onto 800 Mhz CDMA and 800 Mhz AMPS. 

Verizon Phones to Avoid:  LGVX4400, LG VX4500, LG VX6000, Motorola C333, Motoroal C343, Nokia 2285, Samsung SCH-A530s, Samsung SCH-A610, Samsung SCH-i600, Samsung SPH-i700

Sprint Phones to Avoid: Equivalent versions of Verizon phones to avoid, all phones without AMPS, all phones without 800 Mhz CDMA.

TDMA (AT&T & Cingular)

TDMA/AMPS on AT&T or Cingular:  Motorola V60ti/V60i

GSM (AT&T, Cingular, & T-Mobile)

When buying a GSM phone, be certain that it supports both 850 Mhz and 1900 Mhz for U.S. phones, and 850 Mhz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz, and 1900 Mhz for World Phones. AT&T and Cingular are deploying 850 Mhz GSM across the country, and this promises to greatly improve GSM quality and coverage, especially indoor coverage.

There have been complaints by subscribers that signed up for GSM before 850 Mhz was deployed, and that got stuck with 1900 Mhz-only GSM phones. Then as the carrier expanded coverage, the new coverage was all at 850 Mhz, but they were stuck in a contract with a phone that couldn't access much of the network.

GSM on AT&T: Sony-Ericsson T62u GAIT phone (if AMPS is enabled). Actually this phone is not very good, but it's the only GAIT phone from AT&T, NEC 515, NEC 525, 

GSM on Cingular: Nokia 6340i (GAIT), Motorola V400,Samsung S307

GSM on T-Mobile: Avoid all T-Mobile phones. Buy an unlocked dual band phone for the U.S., an unlocked quad band phone for world use. Even though T-Mobile has no 850 Mhz spectrum, you'll want to be able to roam onto Cingular and AT&T networks at 850 Mhz, even just in case of emergency. T-Mobile does not offer any dual band or quad band GSM phones.

GSM Phones to Avoid:  All phones that lack 850 Mhz GSM (all tri-band "World Phones" lack 850 Mhz GSM), All Sony-Ericsson phones.

Cheap GSM World Phone for International Roaming Only:  Motorola T280 (w/GPRS) $120,  Motorola T250 (no GPRS) $85, from www. sentimentalgift.com. Search on Yahoo shopping for other vendors. Avoid the Sony-Ericsson GSM phones as they have a bad reputation.

GSM Phone Note
For GSM you can buy any unlocked phone and use it with any GSM carrier, provided the phone supports the proper frequencies.

Don't buy locked, quad-band, world GSM phones; either insist that the carrier unlock the phone or buy your phone elsewhere. For dual band GSM phones, it's acceptable to buy a locked phone, as you'll be stuck with the carrier for the duration of the contract anyway.

iDEN (Nextel)

I am not familiar with Nextel phones and am unable to make any recommendations.

Bottom Line on Which Phone
Choose a phone carefully--you'll be stuck with it for a long time.

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