Handsets and What They are Used For


Handsets provide you with a decent set of connectivity functions and other utilities at a cheapskate price, but you’ll most likely have to pay for them in full upfront

Can You Buy a Prepaid Handset in Australia?

Smartphones have pushed handsets to the backburner of the mobile industry. Smartphones are handsets with advanced computing capabilities, but they’ve been assigned a class of their own. With this naming convention, the term smartphone really isn’t interchangeable with handset.

However, your old handsets aren’t entirely useless – far from it. They provide you with many essential mobile connectivity functions like making or receiving calls, sending or receiving text messages, and even browsing the web (albeit on a tiny screen with low resolution).

Since handset sales have plummeted with the advent of smartphones, most telcos that still offer handsets want them fully paid for upfront. Even then, you might find it hard enough to find a prepaid handset deal, so getting a postpaid deal might even seem impossible. Also, most prepaid handsets are locked to a carrier, so you might have to remain committed to a specific network for the lifespan of the phone.

Generally though, handsets are far cheaper than smartphones. Most prepaid handset deals are very affordable, so you probably won’t even need a postpaid contract deal. Some deals also come with inclusions for calls, SMS, and data.

Types of Handsets

The major distinguishing factors of different types of handsets are their form factor and set of functionality. Handsets’ functionality are roughly the same, but there’s a wide variety of form factors.

The most popular form factors include:

  • Bricks:
    This is the colloquial name of the large, archaic rectangular phones with large batteries and electronic components. But “Brick” now refers to just about any older phone model.
  • Bar:
    Also known as “slab” or “candybar”, bar handsets refer to models shaped like a cuboid (typically with round corners and edges). Bars are the most popular types of handsets, with a wide variety of models from renowned brands like Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung.
  • Swivel:
    This is a type of handset with multiple (normally two) sections that swivel around each other about an axis. They’re much rarer, but hardware giants like Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, LG, and Siemens have all put the form factor to use.
  • Slider:
    Like swivel handsets, sliders come with two sections that move around each other but in a laterally sliding motion rather than a rotation. The retractable sections are usually the main screen and the keyboard, so you can slide the keyboard under the screen when not in use to make the phone more portable. We also have many slider models from big brands like Nokia, Siemens, and Samsung.
  • Flip:
    As the name suggests, this type comes with foldable sections that can be flipped in or out. The folded position renders the device more portable, and you can flip it open to access the keypad or pick up calls.

Benefits of Using a Handset Compared to a Smartphone

Handsets might be very old fashioned, but they still have some benefits.

  • Ease of use:
    Not everyone would want to carry a mini computing device around with them everywhere. It’s true that, for some people, a device with simple functionality for making calls and using SMS is more than enough. Besides, you can also get a decent set of extra features from your handset including reminders, alarms, clocks, notes, a camera, and even security features. On the other hand, Smartphones come with a stack of features that can be overwhelming. Smartphones can come off of as highly complex, and some users might have a hard time grasping the basic call and text functions of the phone.
  • Cost:
    Perhaps the greatest advantage that handsets hold over smartphones is their much lower cost. Not only do they have cheaper upfront costs, they’re also cheaper to maintain. For instance, your smartphone can sustain damages that’ll cost you hundreds of dollars to repair from a light drop, but a handset that has taken a tumble can easily be put together with cheap replacement parts. In another instance, your smartphone might be running a lot of background app activities that can quickly add up in terms of data consumption. But handsets come with a relatively smaller capacity and display size, and that translates to much lower data consumption rates for users.

Summing up

A handset would do just fine if all you want is a mobile phone for making or receiving calls and sending or receiving text messages. It’s easier on the pocket, even if you might have to shell out money for its total cost upfront. Handsets are also pretty strong – drop them a few times and they’ll probably survive. And, unlike smartphones, if they don’t survive those drops, they’re very cheap to repair.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.