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Choosing a Cell Phone

posted on October 19, 2009 in Phones and Mobile, Phone Accessories, Cell Phones :: 4 comments

Updated October 2009

So you want to buy a new cell phone. It may seem like an easy task, but truthfully, there are few things more difficult to shop for.  Sure, they all make calls and they all send text messages. Yet beyond this basic functionality there is a dizzying array of options to consider.

Do you want a smart phone for its advanced calendar and e-mail functions? Is GPS, for driving directions and keeping track of your kids, essential for your needs?

And to make matters more complex, you may want to think about switching carriers to the one that has the best features and coverage in your area—which will impact the phones available. But whether you decide on AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile or Verizon, we’re certain you'll find a phone with the features that matter most—with a little help from us of course.

Important Choices

Do You Need a Regular or Smart Phone? Smart phones are high-end phones with specialized operating systems, like BlackBerrys, Windows Mobile devices, and iPhone. A key feature of these operating systems is that they allow you to install applications, like those available from the Android Market and iPhone Application store.

Smart phones tend to be more expensive and come packed with features like touchscreens, full featured Web browsers, real keyboards, and the ability to synchronize data (like contacts and calendar appointments) with a PC. These devices are great for E-mail addicts and anyone who likes to carry their calendar around in their pocket, but might be overkill if all you want to do is be able to place calls and send the occasional text message.

Choosing Your Cell Phone Style Cell phones come in three basic body types: clamshell, slider and candy bar.

  • Clamshells, or flip phones, fold closed and make it all but impossible to accidentally dial someone from your pocket or purse. Most also have external screens for checking who is calling without opening the phone.
  • Candybars put all the controls and the screen on the front of the device. The lack of moving parts makes them a little more robust, and they are often smaller than their clamshell and slider brethren. You'll have to remember to lock them or risk unintentionally dialing friends and family.
  • Sliders, appropriately enough, look like candybar phones but slide open to reveal the keypad, giving them the same advantages as a flip phone.

In the end, however, body type is a personal choice; no style is inherently better than another.

A Keypad, a Keyboard or a Touchscreen? If you plan on sending more than a couple of text messages or emails a month, you'll want to get a phone with a QWERTY keyboard, a keyboard that has individual keys for every letter of the alphabet like a computer keyboard. Having a QWERTY keyboard makes typing out text messages and emails much faster and easier.  Phones can have either a physical keyboard or a virtual QWERTY keyboard on a touchscreen.

On a standard numeric phone pad you have to hit each number a certain amount of times to cycle through letters till you get to the one you want. Most phones come with T9 predictive text, which guesses what you want to type as you tap out your message. This cuts down on the number of key presses, but is still slower than a full keyboard.

Since the debut of the iPhone, manufacturers have been rushing to put touchscreens in as many handsets as possible. Touchscreens are still primarily found on higher priced devices,but as phones get more complex, a touchscreen becomes a valuable tool for quickly finding your way around menus and browsing the Internet.

What Type of Data Network Do Your Need? 3G is the current generation of cellular data networks that provides broadband-like speeds for watching videos, streaming music, and browsing the Web. The term 3G actually covers two different types of mobile broadband data networks, HSDPA (AT&T and T-Mobile) and EVDO rev. A (Sprint and Verizon).

If you want to make calls while simultaneously browsing the web (handy for quickly looking up directions or other information and relaying them to someone), AT&T and T-Mobile are the only networks that will let you do that—placing a call on Verizon or Sprint will disconnect you from the data network.

All phones from Sprint and Verizon are 3G, so it's not a major concern on those carriers, but AT&T still sells a few handsets that don't take advantage of this newer technology and T-Mobile has only a few 3G capable handsets.

If you travel frequently overseas, there are more considerations. Most countries use the same type of networks as AT&T and T-Mobile. However they don't operate on the same frequencies or bandwidth as the U.S. networks. You'll need a tri-band or quad-band phone for that. Be sure to check with the carrier to make sure the handset works in the countries you'll be using it in.

How to Choose the Right Type of Bluetooth Bluetooth is a radio technology that transmits data over short distances. Most commonly it's used to transmit voice between a cell phone and a wireless Bluetooth headset, but it can also be used for other tasks, depending on which profiles it supports. The Hands-Free Profile, for example, allows your phone to be used with a hands-free device. But there are other profiles; such as A2DP (Advanced Audio Distribution Profile), which lets you stream music to Bluetooth speakers, headphones, and even some car stereos; and SYNCH, or synchronization profile, which lets you sync data like contacts and calendar appointments between a computer and a cell phone.

How to Spot a Quality Camera: You'd be hard pressed to find a phone without a camera these days. If you plan on actually using your camera-phone to do anything beyond taking blurry, high-angle shots for a Facebook page, look for one with at least a three megapixel camera or better, and preferably a xenon flash. If you want a phone with a seriously high quality camera, you'll have to find one that markets itself based on its photo taking capabilities.

Optional Features

Wi-Fi: A cell phone with a Wi-Fi radio can use your home network or Wi-Fi hotspots, like those at a Starbucks, to get online at faster speeds than the 3G cellular network, while using less battery power. Some cellular companies have their own hotspots and offer cheap or free access to them for their customers. It's a great feature for business travelers.

GPS: GPS (a location tracking technology) enables navigation services and people tracking on your phone for additional monthly fees ($4.99 - $14.99). Some cell phone applications can even use GPS to pinpoint your location and provide search results based on where you are. All Verizon and Sprint phones have GPS built-in and it's becoming more common to find it on phones from other carriers as well.

Our Picks: Regular Cell Phones

Entry Level Cell Phones: Free - $30 (With a 2-year contract)

Just because you're looking at the bottom of the price spectrum doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality or features. Those who want something cheap and basic will be able to find fashionable handsets that can take pictures, browse the web, send text messages, oh... and make calls.

Samsung T349Samsung SGH-T349 ($9.99, T-Mobile) An inexpensive phone with a keypad similar to the BlackBerry Pearl that makes knocking out text messages a breeze. Also provides good call quality—a feature all too often lacking in other phones.
Buy Now at T-Mobile

LG InvisionLG Invision (Free, AT&T) This media-centric phone supports AT&T's Mobile Music, Mobile TV for live TV broadcasts and Video Share, which lets you send live or recorded video during a phone call. Plus get email and IM.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

Verizon Wireless CDM8950Verizon Wireless CDM8950 (Free, Verizon) A no-frills flip phone, but it will work with all of Verizon's higher-end services like V Cast Music and Video, VZ Navigator and Chaperone.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

LG Rumor 2LG Rumor 2 ($29.99, Sprint) Normal keypad up front, turn it on its side and slide the screen up to reveal a QWERTY keyboard for texting. As an added bonus, SMS conversations are threaded, just like on an iPhone.
Buy Now at Sprint.

 

Mid-range Cell Phones: $30 - $75 (With a 2-year contract)

Resigning yourself to spending a few bucks on a cell phone can net you a host of advanced features, including a better camera, a better web browser, MP3 player capabilities, and possibly a QWERTY keyboard for knocking out e-mails and text messages. Even a couple of touchscreen phones can be had at the $50 mark. This is where you'll find most of the best bang-for-your-buck handsets if you don't plan to make the jump to a smart phone.

Samsung PropelMotorola Karma ($49.99, AT&T) GPS, 3G, a QWERTY keyboard and a full web browser, which means full access to Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

Samsung ReclaimSamsung Reclaim ($49.99, Sprint) Made from 80 percent recyclable materials, you can feel good about carrying the Reclaim. It also delivers one-click access to social networking sites, supports Sprint Music Store, Sprint TV and Sprint Navigation, has a 2MP camera that takes video.
Buy Now at Sprint.

Samsung Gravity 2Samsung Gravity 2 ($49.99, T-Mobile) A stylish slider, this 3G handset takes care of all your messaging needs. It also features built-in GPS, a 2MP camera and microSD slot for pictures or loading up music.
Buy Now at T-Mobile

 Samsung Trance ($49.99, Verizon) With the ability to handle up to a 16GB SD card and create playlists, the Trance can replace a dedicated media player for those that don't watch much video on the go. It doesn't hurt that it's quite a looker too. Not only is the phone itself stylish, but the interface is attractive too, with glossy transparent icons.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

 

High End Cell Phones: $75 plus (With a 2-year contract)

Going for the highest-end phones will buy you just about every advanced feature you could possibly think to pack into a handset: touchscreen, multimedia features, GPS for driving directions and e-mail on the go -- they're smart phones in all but name. This is also a great place to start shopping if you're a media addict or have a craving for a more fashionable or luxurious handset.

Samsung HighlightSamsung Highlight ($149.99, T-Mobile) This sleek handset has full touchscreen navigation, a real web browser and a 3MP camera that also captures video. It also handles all you messaging needs, including email and IM.
Buy Now at T-Mobile

LG Xenon ($99.99, AT&T) This handset for AT&T packs a QWERTY keyboard, a touchscreen, 3G, threaded text messaging and a 2-megapixel camera with a flash. Not bad for under $100.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

LG enV TouchLG enV Touch ($99.99, Verizon) It's hard to deny the allure of this feature-packed phone. A 3.2-megapixel camera with flash and video is augmented by the ability to do light photo editing directly on the handset. It has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and you can type messages on the touchscreen. Add GPS, full Web browsing and support for 16 GB MicroSD cards, and you've got quite a handset.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

Sansung Instinct HDSamsung Instinct HD ($249.99, Sprint) This touchscreen handset comes fully loaded: a 5MP camera with HD video recording, 3D gaming, full web browser, Wi-Fi and HD-out to watch stored movies on your TV.
Buy Now at Sprint.

Our Picks: Smart Phones

Entry Level Smart Phone: Under $100 (With a 2 year contract)

Only recently have serious smart phones made their way under the $100 mark. You'll make some sacrifices at this price range—touchscreens are rare, GPS isn't guaranteed, and you won't find new "it" handsets like the myTouch, iPhone 3G S, or newer BlackBerrys. However, you'll still get phones capable of handling advanced e-mail and Web browsing with the ability to install applications to add new capabilities to your phone. If you're a budget-conscious email addict, this is where you'll want to shop.

Apple iPhone 3GApple iPhone 3G ($99.99, AT&T) What is there to say about the iPhone that hasn't been said already? Its Web browser, touchscreen, media playing features and huge stable of applications is unmatched. Add to that GPS, 3G and Wi-Fi, and you have a phone that is hard to top.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

HTC OzoneHTC Ozone ($49.99, Verizon) This Windows Phone has Wi-Fi, 3G, GPS and a 2MP camera with video capture and threaded text messages, so you can follow those texting conversations. The Ozone is also a world phone, so you can insert a SIM when traveling overseas to countries without a CDMA network.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

BlackBerry Curve 8330 WorldBlackBerry Curve 8330 World ($99.99, Sprint) The 8330 has GPS, 3G support and a 2-megapixel camera with a flash. But the real selling point is the unbeatable email, calendar and contacts syncing, as well as the famous BlackBerry keyboard.
Buy Now at Sprint

BlackBerry CurveBlackBerry Curve ($74.99, T-Mobile) The Curve has a 2-megapixel camera and Wi-Fi. Sadly, it lacks 3G, but T-Mobile doesn't offer a 3G smart phone in this price range.
Buy Now at T-Mobile

 

High End Smart Phone: $100 and up (With a 2-year contract)

This is the sweet spot for buying a smart phone. You'll get almost every feature you can imagine and find the hot iPhone 3G S and Android-powered myTouch and Hero. Here touchscreens are common and GPS is standard.

Apple iPhone 3G SApple iPhone 3G S ($199.99, AT&T) The 3G S ups the ante over the standard iPhone with a much faster processor, at least 8 gigabytes more storage, a 3-megapixel camera and video recording.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

BlackBerry BoldBlackBerry Bold 9700 ($199.99, AT&T) The striking new Blackberry Bold is jam-packed with features--2MP camera, XM Radio, voice-guided GPS navigation, 3G and Wi-Fi--which should satisfy all types of users. Later this month, look for the Bold 9700, which is smaller than the current model and has trackpad—a nice improvement over the traditional trackball.
Buy Now at AT&T

T-Mobile myTouch 3GT-Mobile myTouch 3G ($149.99, T-Mobile) T-Mobile's answer to the iPhone comes loaded with Google's Android OS, the new darling of the smart phone world. It's got a touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard, GPS, 3G, Wi-Fi and a growing catalog of free and pay-for applications. (See T-Mobile's myTouch Takes Aim at the iPhone and Palm Pre
Buy Now at T-Mobile.com

HTC Hero with GoogleHTC Hero with Google ($179.99, Sprint) Another Google Android OS phone, this sleek handset features a 5MP camera with video recording, Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS. With all the apps, its nice that the phone also supports up to 32GB microSD cards. 
Buy Now at Sprint

BlackBerry Tour 9630BlackBerry Tour 9630 ($149.99, Verizon) This BlackBerry world phone gets high marks for speed and design. A 3.2MP camera with video captures, GPS (which supports VZ Navigator Global) and a 2GB included microSD card make up a nice package. We wish it had Wi-Fi, though.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

HTC Touch Pro 2 (Sprint)HTC Touch Pro2 ($349.99, Sprint/ T-Mobile)/ HTC Tilt 2 ($299.99, AT&T)The Touch Pro 2/Tilt 2 is chock full of features: 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3.6-inch touchscreen that tilts up when using the QWERTY keyboard, 3.2-megapixel camera with flash, dual noise cancelling mics for great call clarity and it even has a TV-out port for hooking up to an external monitor. This is also a world phone. For T-Mobile customers, that means it's a quad-band phone. For Sprint customers, it's capable of taking a SIM card for use in countries that don't have CDMA networks.
Buy Now at Sprint, Buy Now at T-Mobile, Buy Now at AT&T

BlackBerry BoldHTC Imagio ($199.99, Verizon) Combining the impressive business features of a Windows Phone 6.5 device with GPS (supporting VZ Navigator Global), Wi-Fi and Verizon's full slate of media services, including V CAST Mobile TV, this fully-featured phone is worth considering even for non-business users. It's also a world phone, taking a SIM card for overseas service in countries without a CDMA network.  
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

Shop by Profile

Cell Phones for Moms

You'll want to get something durable and relatively cheap, so that if it ends up in the toilet it won’t be the end of the world. Basic organizer features will also come in handy. A smart phone, like a BlackBerry, may be overkill (but don't write it off), but a basic calendar and access to e-mail will help keep you organized.

Motorola Entice W766Motorola Entice W766 ($19.99, Verizon) A simple but sturdy handset, with dedicated music playback buttons, a 2MP camera with video capture and compatibility with Verizon's Family Locator service.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

Apple iPhone 3GApple iPhone 3G ($99.99, AT&T) What is there to say about the iPhone that hasn't been said already? Its Web browser, touchscreen, media playing features, and huge stable of applications is unmatched. Add to that GPS, 3G and Wi-Fi and you have a phone that is hard to top.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

T-Mobile myTouch 3GT-Mobile myTouch 3G ($149.99, T-Mobile) T-Mobile's answer to the iPhone comes loaded with Google's Android OS, the new darling of the smart phone world. It's got a touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard, GPS, 3G, Wi-Fi and a growing catalog of free and pay-for applications. (See T-Mobile's myTouch Takes Aim at the iPhone and Palm Pre
Buy Now at T-Mobile.com

HTC Hero with GoogleHTC Hero with Google ($179.99, Sprint) Another Google Android OS phone, this sleek handset features a 5MP camera with video recording, Wi-Fi, 3G and GPS. With all the apps, its nice that the phone also supports up to 32GB microSD cards. 
Buy Now at Sprint

 

Cell Phones for Outdoor Enthusiasts

If you're the type who spends more time walking through the woods than sitting in a cubicle, then you'll appreciate a ruggedized handset that can be dropped on a hard surface or caught in a downpour and live to see another day. You'll also want a phone with GPS in case you get lost or hurt.

Motorola Clutch i465Motorola Clutch ($49.99, Sprint) This rugged handset, with 3G, GPS and QWERTY keyboard, can take quite a beating without any ill effects. The Clutch can even take advantage of Nextel's push-to-talk network.
Buy Now at Sprint

Casio Exilim cell phoneCasio Exilim ($279.99, Verizon) This sleek camera-focused phone has a 5MP camera with 3x optical zoom and a 180-degree rotating display for a viewfinder. It also happens to be is designed to meet military standards for water, temperature and dust resistance.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

Motorola TundraMotorola Tundra ($199.99, AT&T) Another military-grade, rugged phone, the Tundra packs in 3G, GPS, a 2-megapixel camera and the ability to roam anywhere in the world.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

 

Cell Phones for the Fashion/Style Conscious

If you're looking for style and design, shopping for a phone is easy. Look for something slim that appeals to your personal tastes and can be customized to your own style. You'll still need to decide what technical features are important to you. Look for 3G data, so you can keep up with e-mails and trade photos, and GPS for doing quick searches for the hottest bars, restaurants, and stores.

Apple iPhone 3GApple iPhone 3G S($199.99-$299.99, AT&T) It's sleek, trendy, and has dedicated applications for social networking, bargain hunting and finding bars or restaurants.
Buy Now at AT&T Wireless

LG LotusLG Lotus ($99.99, Sprint) A unique square flip design, 3G, GPS, 2MP camera with video capture and dedicated social networking features make this a great option for trendsetting Sprint customers.
Buy Now at Sprint.

Nokia 7705 TwistNokia 7705 Twist ($99.99, Verizon) This uniquely designed square phone swivels open to deliver a QWERTY keyboard. Add a light that glows to tell who's calling and a home screen that keeps you updated on your social networking sites and you've got a stylish, social workhorse of a phone.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

 

Cell Phones for Business Professionals

If you can't leave work at the office, then there is only one way to go—a smart phone. Ideally, one with a QWERTY keyboard. Opt for a BlackBerry or Windows Mobile handset that will let you get push email, sync contacts and calendar appointments, as well as view Microsoft Office documents.

BlackBerry Bold BlackBerry Bold 9700 ($199.99, AT&T) The striking new Blackberry Bold is jam-packed with features--2MP camera, XM Radio, voice-guided GPS navigation, 3G and Wi-Fi--which should satisfy all types of users. Later this month, look for the Bold 9700, which is smaller than the current model and has trackpad—a nice improvement over the traditional trackball.
Buy Now at AT&T

HTC Touch Pro 2 (Sprint)HTC Touch Pro2 ($349.99, Sprint/ T-Mobile)/ HTC Tilt 2 ($299.99, AT&T) The Touch Pro 2/Tilt 2 is chock full of features: 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3.6-inch touchscreen that tilts up when using the QWERTY keyboard, 3.2-megapixel camera with flash, dual noise cancelling mics for great call clarity and  it even has a TV out port for hooking up to an external monitor. This is also a world phone. For T-Mobile customers, that means it's a quad-band phone. For Sprint customers that means it's capable of taking a SIM card for use in countries that don't have CDMA networks.
Buy Now at Sprint, Buy Now at T-Mobile, Buy Now at AT&T

BlackBerry Tour 9630BlackBerry Tour 9630 ($149.99, Verizon) This BlackBerry world phone gets high marks for speed and design. A 3.2MP camera with video captures, GPS (which supports VZ Navigator Global) and a 2GB included microSD card make up a nice package. We wish it had Wi-Fi, though.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

HTC ImagioHTC Imagio ($199.99, Verizon) Combining the impressive business features of a Windows Phone 6.5 device with GPS (supporting VZ Navigator Global), Wi-Fi, and Verizon's full slate of media services, including V CAST Mobile TV, this fully-featured phone is worth considering for even non-business users. It's also a world phone, taking a SIM card for overseas service in countries without a CDMA network.  
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

 

Cell Phones for World Travelers

For those who spend their days globetrotting, it's important to make sure you can connect to networks overseas. Get a tri-band phone or, better yet, a quad-band one for placing calls when outside the U.S. Also, opt for a phone with Wi-Fi so that you can browse the Internet without paying for data roaming—which can get real expensive, real quick. We recommend a smart phone if you're constantly on the move, so that you can stay on top of e-mail and browse the Web (good for quickly checking if your flight is delayed). But if you prefer a simpler handset, carriers provide a complete lists of phones capable of international roaming. Just follow theses links to Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.

BlackBerry BoldBlackBerry Bold 9700 ($199.99, AT&T) The striking new Blackberry Bold is jam-packed with features--2MP camera, XM Radio, voice-guided GPS navigation, 3G and Wi-Fi--which should satisfy all types of users. Later this month, look for the Bold 9700, which is smaller than the current model and has trackpadmdash;a nice improvement over the traditional trackball.
Buy Now at AT&T

Samsung MemoirSamsung Memoir ($199.99, T-Mobile) GPS, 3G, and a quad-band radio make this a great option for world travelers. The 8-megapixel camera with flash means you won’t have to lug around a separate point-and-shoot, and the ability to upload straight to Flickr and other photo-sharing sites means you won’t have to wait to share your experiences with friends and family.

HTC ImagioHTC Imagio ($199.99, Verizon) Combining the impressive business features of a Windows Phone 6.5 device with GPS (supporting VZ Navigator Global), Wi-Fi, and Verizon's full slate of media services, including V CAST Mobile TV, this fully-featured phone is worth considering for even non-business users. It's also a world phone, taking a SIM card for overseas service in countries without a CDMA network.  
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

BlackBerry Tour 9630BlackBerry Tour 9630 ($149.99, Verizon) This BlackBerry world phone gets high marks for speed and design. A 3.2MP camera with video captures, GPS (which supports VZ Navigator Global) and a 2GB included microSD card make up a nice package. We wish it had Wi-Fi, though.
Buy Now at Verizon Wireless

HTC Touch Pro 2 (Sprint)HTC Touch Pro2 ($349.99, Sprint/ T-Mobile)/ HTC Tilt 2 ($299.99, AT&T) The Touch Pro 2/Tilt 2 is chock full of features: 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS, 3.6-inch touchscreen that tilts up when using the QWERTY keyboard, 3.2-megapixel camera with flash, dual noise cancelling mics for great call clarity and  it even has a TV-out port for hooking up to an external monitor. This is also a world phone. For T-Mobile customers, that means it's a quad-band phone. For Sprint customers that means it's capable of taking a SIM card for use in countries that don't have CDMA networks.
Buy Now at Sprint, Buy Now at T-Mobile, Buy Now at AT&T


Discussion loading

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From Nancy Broz on April 21, 2010 :: 10:28 am

Two questions:

l.  It is true that (finally) the iPhone contract with AT&T will end soon?  I’m waiting…..use Verizon and don’t want to change.

2.  Is there a simple phone with “on” and “off” buttons (instend of end and end etc.)  for my husband who has alzheimer’s??

Reply

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From Josh Kirschner on April 21, 2010 :: 11:26 am

Rumors spring eternal regarding the iPhone and AT&T/Verizon/Sprint/Aliens from outer space…The fact is, we just don’t know whether the exclusive is ending anytime soon. And we probably won’t until shortly before it happens.

That said, you may want to check out the Motorola Droid on Verizon. It’s a great phone too, and there are now 30,000+ apps out there for Android phones.

The simplest phones we’ve seen are the Jitterbug and two new phones from SnapFon and Just5: http://www.techlicious.com/blog/cell-phones-for-seniors-that-let-you-choose-your-calling-plan/. You may also want to consider getting a label maker that will let you paste “On” “Off” over the existing keys, if these phone options won’t work.

Reply

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There is a significant market

From kirk on December 02, 2010 :: 4:01 pm

There is a significant market for cell phones WITHOUT a camera - all employees that work in classified environments are not allowed to have a camera - a phone is ok, but no camera. Many other companies have similar security concerns.

I’d like a Smartphone - for all the applications - without a camera, so it can be used at work. BB software, at one time, allowed the camera to be shut off under the security policy, but this never played well with the security guards at the gate, who have no idea whether the physical camera in the phone was operational or not.

Reply

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There are models from BlackBerrry

From Josh Kirschner on December 02, 2010 :: 11:41 pm

There are models from BlackBerrry that don’t have a camera - the 9650 on Verizon and a rumored one coming out soon on TMobile: http://www.tmonews.com/2010/11/t-mobile-to-offer-blackberry-bold-9780-without-camera/.  They may not be the most full-featured smartphones, but they get you something.

As an aside, I see the cellphone camera restrictions as “security theater”.  If you’re really intent on spying, how hard would it be to sneak in a small spycam or s $10 disposable film camera?  Neither has enough metal to set off a metal detector.  The true risk comes from electronic downloads of documents (see Wikileaks) and hacking.  Neither of which it appears companies have a good handle on.

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