AT&T Avail

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

With the AT&T Avail prepaid customers get a smartphone with some basic features. It runs Android 2.3. There’s a half gig of internal storage. It has a 3.5-inch screen. There is a 5 megapixel rear camera that also records videos. It comes with 512 megabytes of ROM and RAM. There’s also a microSD card slot and the phone comes with a 2 GB card. 

Features List:

– 3.5″ touchscreen

– Android 2.3

– 5 MP camera

– Video recording

– 512 MB ROM/RAM

– 2 GB microSD card

Digital Trends’ Cell Phones Buying Tips:

Different form factors

Even after choosing between a smartphone or feature phone, you have a lot of choices to make to decide what your phone will actually look like.

A full touch layout like the iPhone has become popular for smartphones, but you’ll usually forgo a hard keyboard as a result. Some smartphones like the Droid 2 or the BlackBerry Torch offer a slide-out keyboard as a compromise, but get thicker as a result, too. Many smartphones also dupe the popular BlackBerry design: small screen on top, small keyboard below.

In feature phones, the flip or “clamshell” form factor has proven especially popular because of its small size and the fact that it protects the screen and keys when closed. Phones with both the screen and keypad on a fixed rectangular slab are typically called “candybar” phones. As with smartphones, you’ll many feature phones with dedicated QWERTY keyboards, which can be handy for frequent text messagers.

Whichever you decide to go with, make sure to physically handle the phone at a kiosk or store prior to buying. Pictures can often drastically misrepresent the size of phones.

Best time to buy cell phones

With all major U.S. carriers announcing new phones around the clock and a dozen manufacturers all working overtime to produce the next killer device, keeping track of all the different models in circulation at any given time can seem like a Herculian task. But this frantic pace works to your advantage: Any time is a good time to buy a cell phone, as long as you keep your eyes open.

Jamie Lendino, a contributing editor at PC Magazine, recommends spotting three or four phones that suit your needs, then jumping on whichever one dives in price first. With the rapid pace of cell phones, you shouldn’t have to rest on your laurels for long. “Remember that ‘old’ in the tech world could mean just a few months from now,” says Lendino. Even the original iPhone, a high-demand handset which originally sold for $600, dropped a whopping $200 a little over two months after launch.

Of course, to take advantage of the most attractive phone deals, you’ll need to agree to a two-year service contract with a carrier like AT&T or Verizon. For potential buyers locked into existing contracts, this could mean riding it out with an older phone for a few more months in order to grab the massive rebates available upon renewal. Always call your provider to see if you might be eligible for an upgrade prior to an existing contract expiring. AT&T, for instance, allows customers with monthly bills over $99 to upgrade after just one year – as long as they’re willing to lock into another two years of service.

The difference between a smartphone and a feature phone

You could divvy up cellphones into dozens of different categories, but these are the two umbrella groups that matter. Smartphones like the iPhone can serve as personal calendars, e-mail machines, Web browsers, gaming platforms, and a literally unlimited number of other purposes. They’re essentially mini computers. Feature phones are more basic, but they still offer features like cameras, text messaging, and even some limited data connectivity, like checking weather or sports scores. Although smartphones obviously have a lot to offer, they also weigh more, offer less battery life, cost more to buy and run, and can make basic tasks like calling seem more complex. If you plan to buy one, make sure you’ll really take advantage of all the extras.

Notable Features

The list of features to look for in a phone could fill an anthology, so we’ll run down some of the most important ones.

Cameras appear on nearly every phone these days. Although a quality camera can be great for quick snapshots, few phone cameras are ready to replace a trusty point-and-shoot. The few with variable focus far outperform fixed-focus cameras, which you’ll find on the majority.

When considering a display, pay attention to size and brightness, which will both come in handy when trying to read it in difficult conditions like outdoors in the sun. LCD displays are still the most common, but OLED displays have been cropping up lately as well. They use slightly less power and produce extremely vibrant color, but suffer from poor outdoor visibility.

Battery life often gets buried at the end of buyers’ wishlists, only to lead to disappointment when they realize they can barely go a whole day without recharging. Be particularly careful with smartphones, which can get particularly thirsty.

If you plan to use your phone for playing music or watching video, be sure to check for internal and external storage. If the phone has a microSD slot you should be able to add up to 32GB of additional storage.

Mobile operating systems

If you decide to go for a smartphone, choosing the right operating system can be an important factor. The big ones are Apple’s iOS, RIM’s BlackBerry OS, HP/Palm WebOS, Google Android, and Microsoft Windows Phone (formerly Windows Mobile). Individual preferences reign supreme here, but Apple’s iPhone iOS offers the widest selection of apps and the simplest user interface, RIM’s BlackBerry OS is less intuitive but powerful and reliable, HP/Palm’s WebOS strikes a nice balance between the two, Google Android is among the most flexible, and Microsoft Window Phone 7 offers a refreshing design but it’s still finding its groove.

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