With organised retail gaining a foothold, the selling of cell phones has changed completely. There are a number of outlets where you will end up not only with a choice mobile phone at a bargain price, but also some incentives. Freebies that come your way will make the deal sweeter. Such throwaways include screen guards, pouches for carrying phones, Reebok watches, headphones, T-shirts and much more.
Channels, worth exploring
The biggest advantage of these ubiquitous stores is their accessibility and the variety of brands they stock. Whether it is a Nokia, Samsung, BlackBerry or a Videocon, Zen and Micromax you are looking for, chances are that you will find the right handset at these shops. The best part is the scope for negotiating the price. If you are a regular visitor to the shop, it is likely that the owner, in a spirit of fraternal kinship, will come up with a good deal to retain you as a customer. Although most retailers don't buy back old phones, check this out. There is no harm if you can get rid of your old device while taking home a new one.
Tip: Try and shop regularly from the same shop and do interact with the owner as much as possible. The next time you step in, you are bound to get special attention and a better deal.
Some of the biggest retail names are Hotspot, The Mobile Store, Croma and Jumbo Electronics. They once offered prices that were more competitive than those at local shops. Hotspot also started the extended warranty covering physical damage to the handset and exchange schemes. With time this advantage diluted, but deals and schemes still lure the customers to these retail chains. Hotspot currently offers three freebies (screen guard, carrying pouch and a wallet) on the purchase of a BlackBerry device and a T-shirt and headphones on a high-end phone. Jumbo Electronics also gifts buyers a 4GB memory card and a carrying pouch on a BlackBerry purchase. When pushed, even Staples agreed to gift us a Reebok watch on the purchase of a Sony Ericsson device.
Tip: Don't think negotiations are out of place at an organised retail outlet. You can always give your negotiating skills a try. Also, pressurise the salesmen for freebies.
These stores stock only a particular brand. For example, Nokia Priority is all about Nokia handsets and accessories. Similarly, Sony Ericsson has its own Experience Store. The case with Samsung is a bit different as the Samsung Plazas stock all Samsung products-from ACs to TVs to phones. While there are dummies of phones at most stores, at an exclusive outlet you can actually handle the real phone. Also, the staff here will be more knowledgeable and informed about the products. Above all, these stores sell original hardware. That's one headache less.
Tip: Negotiate as much as you can. You can always quote the local market price that is relatively less than what these stores may quote
Our experience to help you
The brand of the phone you want is often an indicator of how difficult your search for a sales outlet will be. Although Nokia is steadily losing market share in India, getting a Nokia phone will never be a tough task. This brand is still available across all the four channels, though the price can vary at each. With Nokia we managed to crack the best deal at all the places.
All it required was a little bit of bargaining. Samsung handsets too were on the shelves at good bargains in all three: local retailer, organised retail and exclusive stores. Surprisingly, for Sony Ericsson and Apple, organised retail offers the best deals. At a Sony Ericsson Experience Centre, we were offered a great deal in comparison to whatever we found in other places. In the case of Apple, the Apple Priority Reseller retails the iPhone 3G S 16 GB for Rs 38,000 whereas one can easily procure it for Rs 35,500 from the market. HTC and Motorola phones are hard to find at organised retail stores and only a few select retailers are pushing these phones. So check the website or call customer care before heading to any store. Thankfully, BlackBerry has picked up in the market and most of the organised retailers are offering special gifts on the purchase of a BlackBerry handset.
GSM phones are fairly easy to buy. But if you want a CDMA phone, be ready to face a tough time. Unlike GSM phones, only a handful of CDMA phones are available in the market and that too at select stores. That's because most leading manufactures are focused on GSM handsets. This can be validated by the fact that almost all mid-range and high-end phones are on the GSM platform. Only after gaining popularity with phones like the Samsung Corby and BlackBerry 8520 have their companies come up with a CDMA version (Samsung Corby TV and BlackBerry 8530 respectively). Most shops stock only a couple of CDMA devices from brands like Samsung and LG.
What you can do is to visit an operator owned store like Tata Indicom or Reliance Web World. Chances are you will get a better variety of phones from different brands. Tata Indicom stores have a couple of entry-level and mid-range phones from Samsung and LG. Reliance Web World is dominated by Reliance branded phones and stock a few handsets from Coolpad as well. The variety was slightly better but the range was not exhaustive.
Apps for you!
Your monthly updates on phone apps.
Sharing data between any two phones operating on Android and iOS is simple as one can install Bump and simply "bump" two phones together. It can be used for sharing photos, contacts, social networks, calendar events and installed apps depending on the nature of the OS. On the iPhone, the received photos and contacts can be automatically uploaded to social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter. A history of data transfers is also created.
Android OS, BlackBerry OS, iOS
One can stay up to date with the latest happenings of the day using Time Mobile. This app brings the biggest stories along with the opinions and analysis. Interestingly, when there is an update, the content is automatically updated and a notification appears on the homescreen. As the application has offline supported browsing, one can use the app when not in network coverage area. Articles can be shared over easily emails or Twitter.
Windows Mobile OS
Have instant access to the weather updates before stepping out for an important meeting or a get-together by using MSN Weather on a Windows Mobile handset. This widget gets you the latest weather updates of your city/town. You can even view the weather forecast of a distant destination. Using this app you can get hourly updates as well as a 5-day forecast in advance.
Panini Keypad (Rs 150)
Java, Symbian, Android
Typing in regional languages is time consuming. But the Panini Keypad, which supports 11 Indian languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Telgu, Marathi, Tamil and Gujarati, offers a virtual keypad with characters appearing on the display. Typing a character automatically displays the next most likely character. If the character you are looking for is not displayed, then by pressing a key you can switch to the next list of options.
Keep in mind
Before heading to any store just cross-check if it stocks the particular handset that you are looking for. While making such an inquiry call, you get an idea of the market price and also scope for negotiation.
Don't blindly opt for the handset the shopkeeper suggests. Do cross-check the specs and if possible the review in G&G or on the Net. There are chances that the shopkeeper is pushing that phone since he gets a good commission on it. Before making the payment, push outlets for freebies. Pretend to leave if you must.
While buying the phone, check that your box contains everything mentioned on the packaging. Get the warranty card stamped to be on the safer side. What if you lose the bill and something goes wrong with the phone later?
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