Cell phone companies are almost as confusing as the phones they offer. They each have different plans, work with different phone manufacturers and have differing levels of service and coverage. You also have to decide if you're willing to pay as you go with a smartphone, or if you want to be locked into a contract. Having a contract can save you some money, but it means sticking with that cell phone company for years. If you choose the wrong company or plan and sign a contract, you're stuck.
To find the right cell phone company, check out which company has the best coverage where you live. Having a great smartphone is meaningless if you can't connect to the Web or are constantly dropping calls. Look at the coverage maps available at any cell phone carrier's website. In addition to making sure the area you're in has good coverage, make sure the network you want is available in your area. Smartphones tend to work best on the faster 3G and 4G networks. If only a slower network is available in your area, you'll probably want to find another carrier to get the best out of your phone. You should also make sure coverage is good in areas where you frequently travel.
Also check out consumer reviews of the coverage offered by various networks in your area. A cell phone company may have a network in place where you live, but the actual users are the ones that will let you know how strong the signal tends to be, and if calls get dropped. If a carrier seems to have great coverage in your area but actual customers say otherwise, take your business somewhere else. You'll also want to compare the various prices and plans offered by the carriers in your area. Finding the best combination of price and plan is critical for our next tip. Keep reading to find out what it is.