What Cellphone






Buying your phone was only the beginning, here's a brief guide to some of the essential accessories you will probably find you can't live without after the first few weeks...



If you thought choosing your mobile phone and airtime contract was difficult, be prepared for another shock, welcome to the wonderful world of accessories! Most mobile telephones come with only the bare essentials, a battery pack, charger, and if you're really lucky, a carry-case. That's enough to get you on the air, but far short of what you're going need if your mobile phone is going to earn its keep.


Generally speaking the original manufacturers accessories are the most expensive, but you have the comfort of knowing that these products will not invalidate your telephone's guarantee, or pose any threat to its well-being. That's an important point, the cellphone accessory industry is growing fast and already there are a number of less than satisfactory products on the market.  However, it's fair to say that accessories made by reputable companies, sold through authorised dealers, should be safe to use and can represent a useful cost saving, without compromising quality or performance.



The nickel-cadmium rechargable batteries supplied with most mobile phones eventually wear out, but there is a good case for getting a replacement sooner, rather than later. Most users quickly discover that quoted battery running times for hand-portables are pure moonshine. Very few hand portables can keep going for a whole working day after more than a few minutes worth of calls. It's a good idea to get a higher-capacity battery  for everyday use keeping the original battery for a backup. However, if you decide to buy a more powerful battery be aware that they're usually larger, and take longer to charge. To make sure it has a higher rating than the one you're using, check the the back of the casing where the capacity will be quoted in milliampere hours or mAh.


Replacement batteries are now available for just about every make and model of phone on the market, though the choice may be limited on newer models for the first few months after launch. It's difficult to be specific about prices, they vary considerably and it's important to take the capacity rating into consideration when making comparisions. However, to give you some benchmarks we've checked the manufacturer's suggested prices of  packs for some popular hand-portables. A standard 400mAh replacement pack for the Nokia 101 from ORA costs around £30, whilst a high capacity version will set you back £55. Milennium, who are part of the Gates Group, and manufacture their own high-performance cells have an 800mAh pack for the NEC P-200 and P-300 for just under £32, whilst a similarly rated battery from Vivanco costs £


If you're a heavy-duty mobile phone user you should think about getting a battery charger with a built-in conditioner; they  help to maintain the battery in peak condition, by eliminating the build-up of the so-called 'memory' effect. Various models are available and ORA in particular have a very comprehensive range. One for the Nokia 101, for example,  will set you back around £75. That may sound a lot but it could easily pay for itself within a year or two by keeping just a couple of well-used batteries off the scrapheap. ORA are also planning to introduce an 'intelligent' charger/conditioner this Autumn which can detect if a battery has any built-in overload protection, this will enable it to discriminate between good quality and inferior packs.



Mobile phone users who spend more than a couple of hours each day on the road would do well to consider a car adaptor to power their phone. It's a good idea to think about a 'cradle or car kit at the same time. This will make your phone more accessible, and maybe  improve reception if it is mounted on the dashboard, however, that's another subject for a future issue. Most car power adaptors consist of a dummy battery, (which replaces the phone's own nicad pack), connected by a curly lead to a plug that fits into the car's cigarette lighter socket; a voltage regulator circuit is built into the plug or the battery box. Several phones have an external power/charge socket, so the adaptor will power the phone and charge the battery at the same time.


The voltage regulator is there to reduce the 12 volts of the car battery to the supply voltage of the phone, normally 6 or 7.2 volts; a sudden increase in voltage could damage the telephone's delicate circuitry, so again it is important to only buy good quality, branded products from a reputable dealer. Milennium make a range of adaptors for popular phones; one to fit the Nokia P200 or P-600 sells for just under £30. They also have a charger unit for the same model, with a slip-in cradle,  for £49.99. ORA's car adaptor for the Nokia 101 has a suggested retail price of £35, and Vivanco, who have a very large range to fit most current portable phones, have adaptors costing from £XX to XX.



Although some hand-portables now come with soft carry cases most do not, but they are without doubt one of the most worthwhile accessories you can have. Not only will they keep your phone in pristine condition, and safe from the inevitable bumps and scrapes they normally have clips, so the phone can be worn on the user's belt; apart from anything else this is a useful security measure against pickpockets, and absent mindedness... A mobile phone that has been well cared for will have a higher resale value than one which has been scratched or damaged. Most carry cases for hand-portables have a transparent panel at the front, so the buttons can be seen, and pressed without taking the phone from its case, one or two have fold-over flaps, held in place by velcro strips.


The majority of cases we've looked at are made of leather (concientious vegetarians please note), and originate from China or Taiwan. The quality of manufacture is usually very good, though check the stitching before you buy, and look out for any sharp metal rivets or fittings inside, which may scratch your phone. Prices cover a fairly broad span, from around £30 for an ORA case to fit the Nokia 101, to  £XX for a XXXX from Vivanco.


Finally, if the thought of shopping around for all these accessories puts you off several phone and accessory manufacturers have put together kits which contain some or all of the items we've discussed. Once again ORA are leading the way and their outfit for the Nokia 101, which contains a car adaptor, soft carry case and 700mAh battery pack sells for £65.






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