Mobile/Cell phones - Does anybody know about them?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by Abstract, Jun 24, 2004.

  1. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I'm a bit behind the times when it comes to mobiles, it seems. There didn't used to be this many choices for networks. I'm not even really sure what GSM, TDMA, PCS are. I remember that PCS or GPRS (sp?) was common years ago, but now I hear about TDMA and GSM.
    Anyway, I hear that North America uses different network(s) than most of the world, so does that mean that if I brought a mobile to Europe, I wouldn't be able to use it? I had a Tri-Band Audiovox phone 2 years ago that wasn't too bad, so is Tri-Band something I should be looking for in a phone?

    Scenario: I'm Canadian and am living in Australia for school. I may do my PhD in Canada, the UK, or Oz. Not sure yet, but I'd like the option of bringing my phone wherever I go. I'm certain that I was using a TDMA phone for the 9 months before I left Canada for Oz. I had a Nokia 3595, I believe (it was free!!), with the bad colour screen, no camera (thank goodness!), and no downloadable ringtones.
    I'd like to use one phone. Should I just go to mobile providers in each country and find out which network(s) they use, and choose a phone that can definitely hook up to a decent network in each country? :confused:

    And is Sony-Ericsson really that good? I remember 2 years ago, they were utter crap, and Nokia was king. My 3595 had amazing battery life, great volume, and average reception, so Nokia must still be great. And Motorola is good too, as I've read this here at MR.
    I took a look at a Handspring Treo 600 at their website, and it looked sweet, but extremely pricey. :( Not sure what network it works on, either.
  2. garybUK Guest


    Jun 3, 2002
    Ok first of all GSM is the better standard for 2g/2.5g (generation) phones, this is widely adopted throughout the world (apart from the US). GPRS is an extension to GSM that allows faster data transfers for multimedia messaging and web browsing etc (hence the 2.5g)

    The best thing i would suggest is to get a Tri-Band GSM phone, this will allow connection to all three of the GSM systems 900/1800/1900 i used my UK Vodaphone Sharp GX20 in Chicago with no problems.

    The global providers like vodafone (the biggest in the world) are safe bets.
  3. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    So if I get a GPRS phone, and its an extension of GPS, is that better since it has faster transfer speeds for web and such than GSM? I know you're telling me that GSM is tops, but how will I know if its a GSM phone or not?

    One of the larger Canadian providers, Rogers AT&T, offers TDMA and GSM phones. Of course they don't tell you which phone is under which system, but that's no biggie.
    It sounds like GSM is for data services, whereas TDMA is not. However, I remember that my Nokia 3595 was able to access the internet, and yet the Rogers AT&T FAQ page I'm reading says that as long as I'm happy with simple SMS (text messaging, no?), then TDMA is perfectly great. So maybe my 3595 was actually a GSM phone after all.

    Anyway, I have an Orange UK phone (its a large p.o.s. brick Ericsson from 3 years ago), and it still gets onto the Vodaphone here in Oz, so I reckon its a GSM phone since I can use it overseas. Seems logical.
    Sony-Ericsson is no longer bad, correct? I've had friends with Motorola trouble, and their Siemens SL55/56/5x phone, and yet in the other threads, people praise Motorola. I've used a StarTac, and it was god-like. Nokia phones seem good, but they're butt ugly. SE = Apple of mobile companies? ;)

    Anyway, thanks for the help, buddy. Helped a lot. :)
  4. ftaok macrumors 601


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    Just my 2 cents.

    Since you plan on being an International user, you're best bet would be to get a GSM phone with multiple bands. A really slick phone is the Moto v600 and it's Quad-Band (meaning 800/900/1800/1900mhz). It'll basically work anywhere in the world where there's a GSM signal.

    A good place to learn about cell phones is Howard Forums . It's a lot like this place and many people there are Mac users. I don't know how many are from Oz, but there are Canadians and UKers there to.
  5. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    So, where do they use the 4th band? Japan?
  6. plus_c macrumors member

    Jun 4, 2004
    Actually, that fourth band is used in the US and Canada, depending on carriers. I forget who uses what, but some carriers here use GSM850, while others use GSM1900. It makes cell phone buying/using much more complex than it needs to be.

    I'm really looking forward to going back to Hong Kong this summer, and popping a prepaid SIM card into my SE T68i, and having it just work.
  7. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    A GSM phone will have a SIM card (sorry, best picture I could find on short notice) in it, which is a little stamp-sized microcomputer. As far as I know, only GSM phones have anything like that in them.

    Another plus to a GSM SIM-based phone is that, by simply transferring your SIM card to another GSM phone, that phone is usable with your phone number, any contacts you stored on the SIM, etc.

    Also, there are many GPRS-based data protocols (EDGE, etc.) that allow faster-than-starndard-GPRS transfer rates (I'm thinking the best current ones go up to ~50kbps or so).

    I'm not sure which services are available to you, but there are a lot of different phones, services, etc.

    Another additional option I'd recommend is Bluetooth. That's only an aspect of the phone, not your service plan.
  8. candan9019 macrumors regular

    Feb 18, 2003
    Ontario-> Louisiana-> Colorado-> Ontario
    If you move around a lot GSM is a lot better. Only a few countries don't have GSM, like South Korea which uses CDMA. GSM is based on TDMA kina at least I think. And you can switch carriers easily with GSM, all you have to do is switch the sim card.

    Rogers, Fido, Cingular, Tmobile, all use GSM. And well Europe is coverd with GSM carriers. CDMA is like Bell, Telus, Verizon and such.

    Definently go to Howard Forms like was said, lots of info and helpful people. But ya best bet is a tri or quad mode GSM phone.
  9. Abstract thread starter macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Thanks guys. :) Bluetooth is definitely on my wish list. I don't know what I'll do with it, but I guess the possibility of accessing the internet via bluetooth may be useful in the future, as is transferring d/l'ed ringtones and pictures.

    I know about SIM cards, but didn't know that only GSM phones used them. Also, I'm quite sure that you have to unlock your 2nd phone before you can move a SIM card with your address/phone book and phone number/service to your 2nd phone. I know that Rogers AT&T actually tries to sell the option of unlocking your phone for $250 Cdn, but I may as well just buy another sweet phone for that fee. :rolleyes: You can get it unlocked at smaller shops illegally for something like $20, but I just wanted to point out how much a pain in the ass regulations are sometimes.

    And you should have seen the faces of my friends in London 3 years ago when I told that nobody in Canada (to my knowledge) has a mobile phone with a SIM card in it. Their jaws dropped. "So how do you save addresses?!" :p

    Anyway, thanks again.

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