How to buy a smartphone: A guide for newbies

Believe it or not there are still a lot of folks walking around with a flip phone. These folks have never owned a smartphone, but many are feeling pressure to grab one. Here's a simple guide to catch up with the rest of us.

While it may seem that the smartphone has become ubiquitous in today's busy world, there are quite a few folks who have never owned one. I see them quite regularly while walking around the busy city. Believe it or not, there are still a lot of flip phones out there.

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A caller to my favorite tech radio show, Technology Bytes on 90.1FM KPFT in Houston, got me thinking about these "flip phone" people. This particular caller has never owned a smartphone, but was feeling the urge to catch up with his peers by getting one.

His greatest concern was buying the right smartphone to ensure a good passage into the mystical age of the smartphone. He knew nothing about smartphones, as evidenced by his statement that he didn't even know if he wanted one with a physical keyboard or not. He isn't aware that very few, almost none in fact, have a physical QWERTY keyboard.

After thinking about this for a while, this guide on how to buy a smartphone for newbies is for this guy and all the other folks toting a flip phone who've asked me about getting a mysterious smartphone.

Don't overthink the purchase

First and foremost, while buying a smartphone is a seemingly daunting task, don't overthink it. The fact is, any smartphone on the market will be a giant leap over the dumb phone you are using now.

You might be tempted to turn buying a smartphone into a big research project, similar to what you would do to buy a PC, but it's not necessary. You might think you need the top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art smartphone, but you don't.

Any of the smartphones on the market will be a monumental leap over the dumb phone you are using now, so don't beat yourself up over which one you "want". Instead, go to your wireless carrier's store (or big box retailer) and see what they have and what they offer for good prices.

Almost certainly, they'll have iPhones and Android phones all over the place. They will also have Windows Phones somewhere.

As a total newbie, and there is nothing wrong with that, be aware that any of these phones will be just fine for you. No matter which phone or which platform you embrace, it will open up a world of wonder to you.

On any of the phones, you will be able to work with your email, tweet, surf the web, or most anything you currently do on your computer. Facebook addicts in particular will find the smartphone to be a joy.

Since any smartphone will do, you might as well buy a smartphone at a decent price. I feel pretty confident stating that even "cheap" smartphones will be a tremendous leap over the dumb phone you have now.

So don't agonize over shopping for your first smartphone. Look over the displays in the store and rest assured that any of the displayed smartphones will open up an entire new world. Even buying a smartphone due to its appearance is perfectly fine. Go ahead and buy one and prepare to be blown away.

Once you get familiar with your new smartphone, you will become savvy enough to get serious about shopping for your next smartphone. Detailed research will come into play then to help you make your next purchase decision. And you most certainly will continue on the path of the smartphone once you discover it actually makes your life better.