Buying a Mobile phone on Ebay/Feature guide

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Buying A Mobile Phone on Ebay

A mobile phone is an extremly personal possesion, one that you will have with you almost all the time. Because of this choice of phone is extremly important. This guide aims to inform the reader about some factors in choosing a phone.


Phone Features/What will the phone be used for?
Check Before Purchase
What form factor? / Size/ Weight
Transfering items from your old phone.
Smartphone or Dumb Phone.
Where should i keep my phone?

Some Mobile Phone Jargon

GSM - Global System for Mobile Communication, a widely used digital mobile phone standard. Also called 2G. Operates at following frequencies 900Mhz/1800 Mhz.
CDMA - Another standard for mobile communication. There are only two operaters in Australia. This kind of phone is not worth buying as the networks are closing in the next few years.
3G - 3rd Generation. This offers many more features then GSM, including video calling and high speed Internet Access.
GPRS - General Packet Radio Service. This is a method for 2G for to connect to the mobile internet. GPRS does not have a constant connection.
WAP - Wireless Application Protocol. Another method of connection, uses
i-Mode - Service offered by Telstra, allows access to web sites especially made for it.
SIM Card - Subscriber Idenity Module. A card that fits inside a phone and identifes you to the network. Depending on the phone it contains your phone book and text messages.
Bluetooth - Wireless communication for phones. Most often used for cordless hands free.
Infrared/IRDA - a way for the phone to communicate wirelessy as a modem or to transfer data.
Data Cable - A way to connect the phone to the computer to transfer data/images/ use as a modem.
SMS - Text messages up to 160 characters between phones.
Push to Talk - Allows your phone to function like a walky talky.


Check Before Purchase

Rather then buying a phone straight away there are somethings to consider

  • Is it an Australian seller? - While buying a phone overseas may seem like a good idea because of the savings, you may later regret it as if there are problems it may be difficult or expensive to send the phone for warranty repair. You may also end up with a phone in a foriegn language or a charger for a different country.
  • Is the phone locked? - Many phones are locked to one provider. If not mentioned on the page, then ask the seller if it is network locked.
  • Are there signs of damage? - A phone that has experienced a shock may not function for much longer or may have intermitent problems
  • Is the phone stolen? - You can check the AMTA website.
  • Whats the sellers feedback? - Check that there feedback score is ok. Also read through a few pages of their comments to make sure that thy haven't had any problems.
  • Does the phone work? - READ THE ITEM DESCRIPTION!! Some sellers do not mention in the title that the phone is broken. A suttle way to say it may have problems is "sold as-is"


Phone Features & What will the phone be used for?

Phones do not have to be exclusivly used as a phone. For example you may commute for some time each day and during this time you may play games or use GPRS internet.

Basic Calls.

 If you just want to make basic calls, i recommend a basic Nokia phone. From what i have heard these phones are the most reliable.


If you are upgrading it may be worth sticking with the same brand of phone as differents phones method of text input varies. When i switched from Nokia to O2 i had difficulty as the space key was different. In general people find Nokia T9 to be the best. If you send SMS often it may be worth looking at the siemens SK65 which has a keyboard built in, or a Nokia Symbian based phone/Windows Mobile phone that can use a keyboard.

Internet/Emails/Instant messenging

If you want to use email make sure that the phone you are getting supports GPRS and has a web browser built in. You may also consider getting a phone with a larger screen so that websites are easier to read. You may also consider a 3g phone which would provide faster internet access.

Bluetooth/Hands Free

Many people worry about the effects of using a mobile phone. If you are going to be making long calls I would reccomend purchasing a phone with Bluetooth and a hands free kit such as the Logitech Cordless Freedom. In the news roughly a year ago it was claimed that radiation may travel down the wire of the hands free and the brain may recieve radiation 10x as strong.

Bluetooth is also useful for transfering data between friends, syncing your phone with a computer. If you have a smartphone you can most likely buy Bluetooth accessories for your phone such as keyboards, GPS recievers. Some newer phones can be used to listen to music such as the v3i(Itunes), Sp5(has Windows Media Player, N-Gage(only first one, built in Mp3 player). Newer phones that support the AADP profile can stream music wirelessly to bluetooth headphones.

Car Usage

If you plan to use the phone in the car then having a phone with Bluetooth would be recommended over a custom car kit. This means that if you upgrade your phone in the future your car kit will be compatible with the new phone. A simple bluetooth handsfree is also a good option and is much better then a phone with just a standard hands free kit which has wires and can get in the way of controls. A good recommended car kit is the Blueant Supertooth.


There are many different types of games for phone.

Java - Run on almost all phones
N-Gage - Run on Nokia N-Gage phones, These are symbian games that are locked to only run on N-gages.
MS Smartphone - Run on Microsoft Smartphones (I-mate, O2)
Symbian - Run on a lot of Nokia Phones (S60) and some phones from other manafacturers that use symbian
Generally Java Games are very simple. If you want to play Java Games then it is best to get a handset from a well known brand(Nokia, Motorola) to ensure compatibility as many different manafacturers have slightly different implementations. Free Games are also availible on the internet at These range from basic puzzle games to some 3d flying games, which are mostly free.

Smartphone Games are much more complex. For example i have Worms World Party on my phone which contains Death match and multi player mode (passing phone arround). Graphics on this game are far superior to Java Games.

N-Gage games only run on N-gage and are said to be comparable to Gameboy Advance. I have a N-Gage and games for this phone are good.

Games for this phone are similar to smartphone games, however It is harder to find free ones.


Even the best camera phones quality will not compare to that of a current basic digital camera. A phones camera, as you have the phone with you all the time, is extremly useful for photoing interesting/entertaining things. I personally find 640x480 quality ok as i would take my digital camera with me for important photoes. Anything beneath this probably is not worth it as photos are terrible in lower resolutions. At 640x480 the photos could almost be printed at 4:3 and look ok. Generally a phone without a flash will only provide good quality with bright light/

Mp3 Player

If you want to listen to Mp3's on your phone, the w810i is an excellent choice as it has a dedicated mp3 function and long battery life. Many other phones play Mp3s, such as the v3i through the installed itunes software or the Xphone IIm which contains Windows Media Player 10.

If you use your phone a lot I would personally recomend getting a MP3 player seperatly to conserve battery life.


What form factor? / Size/ Weight

How the phone will be used affects what phone you would choose.

There are three form factors:

Candy Bar - Like a candy bar
Flip/Clamshell - opens up, protects against acidental keypresses and allows for a larger screen.
Slide - The keypad slides down from behind the screen.
A slim phone such as the Motorola V3I will fit easily into a top pocket and look good.

In terms of durability a Candy bar phone will probably survive the best out of them. Generally flip phones have a thin ribbon and if dropped will damage really easily.



Having a cover will protect your phone from scratches/damage and can also provide a convinient way of holding the phone, with a clip or hole for a belt. A case doesn't have to be a common leather case but can be a silicone case which are slim and fit tight to the phone. Having a case will absorb some of the shock should you drop your phone.

Covers (Express On, etc)

Many mobile phones come with the option of changing the cover for a new look. Nokia has Xpress-On covers for many of its phones. Check the specifications of a phone to check that covers are availible. Buying a new cover is also a good idea if you have bought a phone that looks damaged.


A handsfree can be extremly useful if you make longer calls. These can be pickup up off ebay for a very low price. If you are worried about radiation then consider buying a bluetooth handsfree.

Bluetooth headsets

A bluetooth headset can be bought through ebay for round about $50. There are many different kind s of headset with varying features. If you are just after a replacement for a wired hands free the Logitech cordless freedom is a good choice. These can also be useful if you keep the phone in a bag as it will play a tone to alert you to a call.

If however you have more then one phone the consider getting a headset that can be used with multiple devices. I have the Blueant X3 Micro which allows pairing to multiple devices. It is paired with two phones and my computer for Skype. If you intend to use your headset for internet chat make sure that you get a bluetooth dongle for your PC that has drivers that support it. (if the the dondgle that you purchase uses the Broadcomm drivers make that it is able to use version 4.x and above as many people have found prior to this have sound problems. Make sure that you check with the seller.


If your phone supports bluetooth, a bluetooth dongle can provide you with the ability to transfer photos, ringtones and other information to your phone. It can also allow your phone to act as a modem for laptop PC or PDA to access the internet. If your phone has a Mp3 Player generally this is to slow to transfer files at a decent speed.

Another option, should your phone support it is infrared/IRDA which will allow sending files, and backing up the phone book. (This is availible on most phones however some phones eg J200i don't support backing up the phonebook.) This also allows your phone to be used as a modem.

A data transfer cable is a good option for atraching your phone to the PC, if your phone doesn't allow infrared/bluetooth or if you want to transfer large files onto your phone. Some phones (eg Motorola V3, Sp3i) use standard USB mini-B connectors which means that getting one is extremly cheap. These phones can also charge from a USB port.

Car Accessories

If you are on the go often buying a car charger for your phone is a good option as you can charge your phone anywhere. Some chargers also allow use in a computers USB port.

If you like to talk then buying a handsfree kit for the car is a good idea. The Blueant supertooth clips to the visor and provides a hands-free speakerphone and provides easy access to answer calls and support for voice dialing.

Screen Protectors

If you want to keep your phone in A1 condition so that it keeps resale value then a screen protector is a good option. These are made of plastic and fit exactly over your screen. These are often more scratch resistant then your phones screen. As an example I have had a screen protector on my phone and it is still unscratched, it has been exposed to keys in my pocket and other sharp bits.

Transfering items from your old phone.

If your phone numbers are stored on a sim card then it is often quite simply a matter of putting the new sim into the phone. If your new phone holds the numbers on the phone then you may need to choose copy Sim Numbers to phone.

If you are also changing network and reciving a new sim with your phone then buying a sim card reader may be a good idea, allowing you to copy your phone book to a computer and then onto your new sim card.

Many phones keep the phonebook on the actual phone rather then the sim card. If you have a basic phone book(eg. 1 number per person) then using the data cable to transfer contacts onto a PC is probably the best option. Then you can either 1) export the file and import it into the new program for your phone or 2) begin copying and pasting.

If your phone synchronises with Outlook select the synchronise option in the phone software and all contacts from Outlook will be c to your phone.


Smartphone or Dumb Phone.

If you just want to make calls then a normal phone is fine however having a smartphone opens many new possibilities.

Having a smartphone means that you will be able to install native applications that are often much more complex the Java. The phone will also have many more PDA functions. Web browsing on smartphone is often easier.

With some of these phones it is possible to run GPS navigation applications.

With smartphones there are a lot of user communities on the internet should you run into problems or just want advice. There are quite a few free programs such as console emulators that run on these phones that have been created by community members.


Where should i keep my phone?

In many phone manuals now they recomend keeping the phone away from your body because of radiation. If this is not an option then the back pocket or top pocket are a good choice. It is much better having your bottom or even your heart absorb radiation then your private zone.

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