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Unlike people, not all phones are equal. Some phones are built better than others. This is why it is important to get a little feedback before you buy a new phone. While the device may look sleek and cool, that does not guarantee you will feel the same way about its performance.
Check out user reviews online, write-ups in trade publications, or even ask someone you know that owns that model of phone before you buy it. Find out how reliable it is. Is the screen bright enough. Can you actually feel the phone vibrate in your pocket when you put it in silent mode? Is it durable and does it get good reception?
These are all things you want to find out so your money is well spent. Sometimes the phone that you get for free with a new service contract is not very reliable and sometimes it is a great model. Also, just because a model is expensive does not mean it is better than other lower-priced ones.
Once you have all the information you need and are confident in your choice, see what discounts or coupons are being offered by mobile phone companies for that phone. Can you get a percentage-off deal, or a free Bluetooth headset with your purchase?