Mobile phones buying guide

Phones are packed full of features in order to make many forms of communication simpler, from social networking to simply having a phone call.

Handset styles

With three distinct styles of handset, you're sure to find the one that suits you.

The three types of handset are Candybar, Clamshell and Slide

Pay as you go mobile phones

Unless specified, all our phones are locked to the network you sign up with, so a SIM card from a certain network will not work in a phone locked to a different network. If a phone is unlocked, you can then use a SIM card from any network.

Recycle your old phone

With Tesco you can recycle your old mobile phone online and get cash directly into your bank account.

To find out how much your phone could earn you visit the Tesco mobile recycle site.

All our phones are supplied with a SIM card for the specified network unless otherwise stated, so you'll have access to the network as soon as you get the phone. Most phones also come complete with enough battery to use straight out of the box.


A smartphone is a phone that can do a lot more than just make calls, send and receive texts. More of a pocket computer, smartphones generally have a PC-style operating system and usually feature a full QWERTY keyboard and touch screen. You can take photos, listen to music, write and edit Word and Excel documents, use the phone as a Sat Nav, access the Internet and much more.

Explaining "apps"

"App" is short for "application", and each application does a specific task. These small computer programs can take the form of anything from alarm clocks, to games or others just simply for fun. Some apps are free and some require you to pay for them. The price will be displayed before you start downloading the app.

Operating systems and what they mean

Different smartphones have different operating systems that manage all the programs on the phone, making sure each one runs efficiently. Operating systems also provide a platform for developers to make apps.

Operating system Description
Android Customise to suit your needs - Access email, music, the web and over 35,000 apps via the Android Market.
Bada The Bada Operating System is quick and easy to use and has a variety of applications available, which can be downloaded from the Samsung Apps store. It is computer compatible, making it easy to sync your handset and PC for quick file transfers.
Blackberry Personalise your BlackBerry smartphone with games, social networking apps, themes, personal productivity apps and so much more.
iPhone The iPhone OS is fast and simple to use and can be easily synced with any computer, allowing you to transfer media files at the push of a button. With regular updates the iPhone OS software is constantly improving and the iPhone Application Store has thousands of applications available.
Symbian The Symbian user interface is regularly updated and improved, making it a very easy system to navigate. Symbian OS is open source making it easier for developers to create and share applications, which is mainly done through the Nokia Ovi Store. It has a wide range of different apps from multimedia treats to functional programs.

Mobile phone glossary

  • 3G: This is the third and current generation of mobile phone technology, improving video and data rates.

  • Bluetooth: This feature allows your phone to transfer data wirelessly with other devices such as mobile phones, PDA's and Laptops within 10m.

  • Camera: Most mobile phones now come with an integrated camera. Photo quality can vary considerably, so if you like printing out your photos you should consider a camera with 2 megapixels or more and a phone with an expandable memory.

  • Dual Band: Mobile phones that are dual band can be used throughout Europe. If you need to use your phone elsewhere, a tri-band or quad-band phone is recommended to keep in touch.

  • GPRS (General packet radio services): This lets you access WAP pages, and you are only charged when you send or receive data, and charged by the amount of data as opposed to length of transmission.

  • Java enabled: If your phone is Java enabled, you can download the latest Java games from the Internet.

  • Memory: Built-in memory is the amount of memory installed in your phone, for storing photos, music and so on. Expandable memory lets you add extra files onto a separate memory card.

  • Music: If you want to store and listen to music on your phone as you would with an MP3 player, then look at the built-in memory capacity. 1GB of memory stores up to 250 tracks depending on file size, but you can store additional music tracks if you purchase a phone with expandable memory and purchase a compatible memory card.

  • Picture messaging: Also known as Media Messaging and Multi Media Messaging (MMS), picture messaging is the ability to send messages which include photos, sounds and images as well as text.

  • Ringtones: Most of the newer mobile phones now give you the option to change your ringtone to any sound or song you like. Some phones also offer a discreet vibration option.

  • SIM card: The SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card holds your personal phone number, along with your friends and family's contact details you may have saved to it. This can be transferred between phones, to transfer your phone number and address book to a newer phone.

  • Standby: This number tells you how long the phone can be left unused before needing to be recharged. Smartphones will drain faster than the more basic phones as they are always looking out for emails and could constantly be running apps.

  • T9: T9 (text with 9 keys) is an alternative to using a QWERTY keyboard, which the entire alphabet distributed around 9 number keys.

  • Talk time: is how long you can use the phone for once it has been fully charged.

  • Touch screen: These phones are operated by touching the screen as opposed to using buttons to navigate around the features. This feature is largely used by Smartphones.

  • Unlocked phones: Unless specified, all our phones are locked to the network you sign up with, so a SIM card from a certain network will not work in a phone locked to a different network. If a phone is unlocked, you can then use a SIM card from any network.

  • Vibration alert: Rather than using a ringtone, the vibrate function alerts you to incoming calls or text messages by discreetly vibrating.

  • Voice dialling: This feature allows you to call people in your address book just by saying their name into the phone. With no need to scroll through contact lists or type in a name, this is the ultimate hands-free feature.

  • Wallpaper: You can customise your phones display screen with a fun background or a photo of your choice.

  • WAP: WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is essentially a simplified version of the internet for your mobile phone, accessing WAP sites and information via certain websites. You won't get video or sound, but you will get text and images.