Miniaturization in the 20th Century provided Americans with many interesting and useful products that are small and anyone can carry them in their pocket or purse. Among the thousands of mini-gadgets, the cellular telephone is an ingenious device that is portable and handy for everyone to use. Before you buy a phone, read the information below and check with your friends that already have a cell phone service for their input and recommendations.

In the early era of the cell phone industry, they were easy to clone. When a cell phone is used, its phone number and electronic serial number could be picked off the airways by scanning devices available in electronic stores. This information was programmed into another phone and you paid the bill. The industry has implemented a program to combat cellular phone theft by sharing information on a database about stolen phones across the country as soon as a theft is reported. The drop in cost of cell phone calls has also been an incentive in reducing theft.

Analog, the original cell phone, is the least expensive, transmits your voice on radio waves and can be used nearly everywhere in the country. However, calls from an analog phone may be difficult due to interference from static, batteries don't usually last long, and your calls may be slow since the system can only handle a few calls at one time. An analog phone may be best if it's used on a limited basis for personal calls or security and safety.

Sounds from digital cell phones are converted into a series of ones and zeros and back to an audio sound at the other end of the call. For frequent callers, a digital telephone may be the right phone. The sound is clearer than the analog phone; batteries last longer and digital phone providers offer more perks to the user. The downside, digital phones cost more and the coverage is widespread, but not as complete as the analog system. The positive side, digital phone calls usually go through on the first try.

Digital PCS "Personalized Communication System" transmits at higher frequencies than the other two systems and is more expensive. PCS offers two-way radio communication between workers, but lacks coverage outside metropolitan areas and is probably best suited for business use in restricted areas.

If you elect to obtain a cellular telephone service, your most expensive purchase will be the telephone. There are lots of them on the market at various prices, so you should check prices at several dealers. Look into the service provider's package; check their service area; find out what roaming fee costs when you're outside the service area. Be aware cellular phone calls outside the service area are more expensive. There is a fee to activate your cell phone, which may vary between service providers, so this should be considered before selecting a service. Some companies offer discounts if you buy a telephone case or other accessories. Determine when and how often (packages are offered for on and off-peak hours) you'll use your cell phone and select a service package to fit your situation.

It may be best to buy from a well-known company that offers a variety of phones and services since your needs may change. Usually you have to sign a contract for a year or more, so be sure you have the option of upgrading your contract at no extra charge for any new services that may be offered. Remember to shop them all; compare prices and services, and select the cell phone service that's best for your needs and/or budget.

If your cellular phone is stolen, report it immediately to your carrier so they can shut it down before the thief can use it. An hour or two in the wrong hands could cost you a lot of money, especially if your phone was programmed for overseas calling.