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Choosing a Cell Phone That Will Last

Updated on December 20, 2009
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Kate holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Sonoma State University. She has worked as a sales supervisor for 5 years.

Let me start off by saying, I have worked as a cell phone salesman for over 3 years in a high pressure selling environment. I have pushed people into some great deals on some really great phones, and I've convinced people to get a phone that wasn't what they needed. I've pretty much done it all. One thing I've seen is how costly choosing the wrong cell phone can be. You can be locked into a lengthy contract with a company and need to pay hundreds of dollars more than a new customer just because your phone broke before your term was up. Now, I will give you a true, 100% honest insight into what you can do to choose a phone that really is a good lasting phone, and which ones you may be pressured into getting but wont last 3 months. Choosing the right phone now can mean saving yourself hundreds of dollars in the future.

What to avoid...

There are many things you can look for to determine if a phone is a potentially cheap phone full of gimmicks.

  • Phones that are brand new or the first model of it's kind

From experience, I can't tell you how many times I've started selling a brand new phone model to my customers just to find out it's been recalled by the manufacturer for any number of issues weeks later.

  • Any phone you can squeeze in your hand and make the plastic flex

This is a trick us sales people use all the time to gauge how durable a phone is. A large portion of a phone's overall durability has to do with how well it can take drops or bumps, this is determined largely by how well the casing is reinforced. If you can flex it in your hand, find another model.

  • The cheapest of the cheap phones (except Nokia's)

Sounds like a no brainer but the free or close to free phones have historically scored low on durability and longevity testing. The only consistent exception to this I've found is the basic, non-flip Nokia phones. Those things can stand up to anything!

  • Phones with small navigational controls

One of the most common things to break on phones is a scroll wheel or touch-sensitive directional keypad. Think about it, you use navigational controls constantly on your phone to get through menu's, read messages, change settings etc. Don't get a phone that has a small or frail looking control. Stick to a big, classic directional keypad instead.

What to look for...

There are also many things you can look for that will give you a good idea of how tough the phone is.

Here's a tough phone

  • A phone that's part of a long running series

Is the phone part of a series of earlier models that's been around for a long time? The longer that series of phone has been out on the market the more thoroughly tested it is by cell phone users and that's the best testing of all!

  • Any model that has a rubberized coating

Any layer of protection on the outside of the phone is good. Many phones have thick rubberized coatings (like Nextel's for example) and some only have very thin black coating that almost appears to be paint. Any amount is good as a coating like that will dampen most of the shock of a cell phone falling to the ground.

  • Internal antennas are great for durability

Some people claim that internal antennas are bad for reception and although I can say that used to be true when I first started in the cell phone industry, now antennas are so much better there is little to no difference in reception due to placement of the antenna. If it's internal it wont break off and leave you without a phone!

  • Stick with a slider or bar style phone

Believe it or not, recent durability tests have showed that slider phones are generally more durable than flip phones because "they're attached to the body of the phone via two seperate tracks, where flip phones are only attached via one rotating hinge."


Although there are many more factors that affect the overall durability and longevity of any given phone. These are the biggest factors that I have seen in my 3+ years of experience working with these phones. If your phone meets all or most of the suggestions above I can say with full confidence that it will at least be above average in it's overall durability.

Especially if your phone lacks the rubberized coating mentioned above, it's always a good idea to get a case. Preferably one that can stay on the phone 24/7 as you use it. Tests have proven that a phone with a case on it all the time is four times less likely to break in it's first year of use. It will also reduce the chances of moisture working it's way into the phone and causing damage. Many companies now are making rubberized "gel skins" you can put onto your phone that will essentially add a rubberized coating where there wasn't one before.

Don't get caught out with a broken phone when you need it most. Remember, you never have to choose only the phones the carrier has in the store for you to buy. You can always get a unique quality phone on your own through any of countless websites online. Take your time in choosing the best phone initially and it will save time, frustration, and potentially a lot of money in the future.


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      Tara 7 years ago

      I had a hard time choosing the right phone for my aging mom, a simple phone to be more specific. But after identifying what I want her to have, the process of searching became easier. For those who are looking for a simple phone, I suggest the use of the Just5 cell phone. This is a great choice for those people who are looking for a quality and an affordable phone. The calling plans offered by Just are great, too. Since my mom rarely uses her cell phone, she only spends $3.33 a month for the cheapest minute plan offered by this provider.

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      Cell phone trick 7 years ago

      Thanks very much for the tips, I always buy new models and then find they are not so good, just could not help.