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What Cell Phone is Right for You?

There are a lot of things to think about when you are trying to decide what cell phone will be good for you.

The first thing you must do is decide on the maximum amount of money you want to spend. Once the salesperson shows you the phones that are in your budget, you can begin to look at the features that you want and/or need.

Such features can be broken down into 2 categories.

  1. Software features (programs, user-friendly, etc.)
  2. Hardware details (buttons, shape, size, flip, screen, etc.)

Since everyone is different with unique needs and abilities, you can use this tip sheet to help you decide what features would be good for you. To keep the cost down, choose the 3-5 features the phone MUST have.

1. Software Features


  • E-mail
  • Facebook (to communicate with your friends/family).
  • Instant messaging (programs like msn or yahoo used to communicate with family/friends).

Camera (Pictures or Video)

  • Take pictures of things you want to remember.
  • Take pictures of things to show your family and friends.
  • Take pictures of signs, etc. to show someone so they can help you read and understand them.


  • Transfer files from a computer or phone to your phone without plugging anything in.
  • Use your phone hands free.

USB charging

  • Charge your phone by plugging it into your computer instead of a plug on the wall.

Storage capacity (memory)

  • High capacity means you can store lots of pictures, video, music and files.

GSM( Global System for Mobile Communications) for overseas calling

  • Be able to make phone calls when you are out of the country.


  • Talk to other friends who have the same feature on their phone by speaking into a speaker instead of holding the phone to your ear.

Speaker function

  • Listen to your voicemail through a speaker without holding the phone to your ear.
  • Listen and talk to someone during a call without holding the phone to your ear.

Radio/MP3s (sound files – songs)

  • Use headphones that plug into the phone to listen to MP3’s (your music), or the radio (the headphones act as the antenna).

Voice memo recorder

  • Record your voice – say things that you see or that you want to remember later.
  • Record someone else’s voice or a conversation with someone so that you can play it back later.
  • Record you or someone else giving instructions or directions so you can play it back over and over again when you are alone and it will help you complete a task – at home or in the community (e.g. the directions to the doctor’s office for your appointment).


  • Enter important dates and events that you want to attend in your calendar.
  • Set reminders to complete tasks and your phone will alert you at whatever time you want.


  • Set the alarm to help you wake up in the morning or from naps.
  • Set the alarm to help you with managing your time – give yourself a certain amount of time for an appointment, a task, etc…

Speed dial

  • Program important phone numbers in your phone so that you only have to hold down 1 button to call that person.


  • Play games while you are waiting.
  • Play games that might help you work on skills you want to develop.
  • Play games while you are travelling on the public transit.

Hearing Aid compatibility

  • Allows use of a hearing aid without feedback.

TTY compatibility

  • A special device that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired use the telephone to communicate by allowing them to type text messages.
  • A TTY is required at both ends of the conversation in order to communicate.

GPS enabled

  • See where you are on a map.
  • Get turn by turn directions.
  • Share your location with others using a service.

Text messaging

  • Send and receive messages.

Smart phone (Blackberry, iphone) Programs

  • Auto verbal – can speak for you.
  • Calculator.
  • Convert units.
  • Updates and information on the Weather, News, Sports, TTC, etc.

Voice Dial

  • Make a call by saying the name of the person you are calling into the phone – no need to press buttons.

2. Hardware

Size of the phone

  • How are you going to carry it? In your pockets, in your purse, in your knapsack? Will it fit?
  • Can you hold the phone in one hand?

Touch screen

  • To use the phone, buttons are on the screen.
  • There are no physical buttons to press down on.
  • They can be quite delicate; the screen is usually glass and could break easier than other screens.

Flip phone

  • The phone folds in half.
  • To answer or make a call, you have to “open” the phone.
  • Buttons cannot be pressed when the phone is “closed” and in your bag.
  • Sometimes, flip phones are smaller than other phone.
  • Usually more sturdy since the keys and screen are protected by the hard shell when it is closed.

Slider phone

  • To answer or make calls, you need to slide part of the phone up or down.
  • Certain buttons cannot be pressed when the phone is “closed”.


  • For text messaging or typing e-mails, there is a full keyboard like one you would see on a computer.
  • Usually easier to use than touch-screen keyboard.


  • How large does the screen need to be so you can see it properly?
  • Can you see better with certain colors displayed?
  • Can you change the size of the text to make it easier to read?


  • Are the buttons big enough so you can press them without difficulty?
  • Are they too close together?
  • Think about your fingers and fine motor skills – do the buttons present a problem with this?


  • Make sure it is comfortable when holding the phone to your ear.
  • Make sure you get a good grip on the phone with one hand.
  • Do you need/want to make sure you can press the buttons while holding the phone in one hand?
  • Think again about where you will be keeping your phone while you are out in the community – does it fit comfortably in your pocket?


  • Plug in a headset so you can talk on the phone without holding it.
  • The headset might go in your ear or sit around your ear, or it might be like headphones.
  • Some headsets have cords and others are wireless and use Bluetooth technology.


  • Make sure the phone rings loud enough so that you can hear it.
  • Choose from different ringing options available in the phone.


  • Keeping your phone in a case will protect your phone and it will last longer.
  • What cases are available for this phone?
  • Do you need one that has a belt loop so you can keep it on your pants or belt?

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