Mobile phone plans buying guide

Confused by the ins and outs of mobile call plans? Our guide can help you.
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04.Internet on the phone

Most 3G mobile phones now come with internet usage entailing a data plan, but before signing up for one make sure you find out the download and excess amounts. See out article on smartphone data downloads to avoid bill shock.

Going over the data allowance can lead to the nasty shock of extra charges per megabyte (a measure of data). Talk to people you know already on a data plan to see how it works for them and the features the plan includes.

Always be wary of the terms 'free', 'capped' and any other marketing terms used to sell you the plan - always read the terms and conditions. Get all the facts on the limits and extra costs you’ll be charged for going over these limits.

Go low

If you don't know how much data you will use, go for the lower end and monitor your usage. If you want to upgrade your data usage, it’s likely you can do so without charge. If you find you are wasting money because you don't use the internet via your phone often, it can cost to downgrade your plan.

Many carriers have the option of monitoring your usage either online or via their customer service. Some phones have the option of monitoring the usage via the settings on the phone. It's useful to be able to reset the usage rate each billing period.

Wi-Fi access

Some phones have Wi-Fi access so you can roam to a personal network or wireless hotspot. This means you don't need to use the internet plan via the network. A phone that lets you monitor both 3G internet access and Wi-Fi usage is a useful feature.

Specific mobile-oriented sites can save you data as they minimize the graphics and stick with the essentials. Remember, video sites will chew up your data allowance, so avoid them if possible.

Some mobile applications and newsfeeds have regular updates - be sure to take these into account before installing, or turn this feature off if possible.

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