Most mobile phone companies have a range of handsets to suit different users and different budgets. Choices include Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Palm and, soon, Apple. The phones can be purchased outright or with a plan from a particular carrier. To make the most of the 3G content on offer, it's important to put some time into researching particular handsets and their features. For example, a good size screen with at least 16 million colours and resolution of at least 240x320 pixels will make the most of video calls and music clips.
A phone with sufficient memory and/or a storage card slot is necessary to maximise the amount of data and multimedia content that can be stored and played back. Consider 16MB of onboard memory a minimum with a card slot that is expandable up to at least 1GB. And, of course, a camera, preferably at least 3 megapixel, is a worthwhile inclusion for multimedia messaging with photos and video. It's also important that the 3G handset play back music in a range of formats, such as MP3, AMR and AAC. The keyboard is also vital with all the messaging and browsing, so select a phone with multi-press alphanumerical keyboard that's big enough for two-finger operation for speed and ease of input.
If wireless connectivity is important, look out for Bluetooth compatible models (most new handsets are) for hands-free dialling and wireless headsets. Battery life should start at no less than three hours talk time. The cost of a 3G phone will range from about $199 for a basic model to $1399 for a smartphone model with maximum storage capacity and features, though prices continue to fall.
3G Data Cards
3G mobile data cards provide online access for notebooks. They allow users to freely access e-mail, the Internet and business applications without searching for landline connections or wireless hotspots. These data cards slide into a notebook's PC, ExpressCard or USB slot and use the 3G network to connect. The coverage of a 3G card is only as good as its network. Telstra, 3, Vodafone and Optus all offer 3G data cards in Australia, with different plans depending on usage patterns and download limits.