Mobile Phones: not Just a Phone Anymore

By: J Tillotson

Stereo, camera, TV, video recorder, computer, console, satellite navigator...No, this isn't a Christmas wish list, it's the features on a mobile phone. There seems to be no limit to the things a chunk of plastic and microchips can do.

As well as all the above, you can now use your phone as a debit card, and pay your bills, parking fees, and even vending machines. All through the simple text message.

The patent for this was filed in Feb 2006 by Google. It takes the form of a text message sent to a specified number, depending on who you're buying from. The text message usually has to contain your credit or debit card details, as well as information specific to where you are: for example, if you were paying for parking fees you'd need your car registration number, how long you stayed, and the and location of the car park. If you use the same places frequently, they keep your card details on file, so you don't have to send them every time.

There are now more mobile phones than people in the UK. As a nation, we are becoming addicted to smaller and smaller objects that do bigger and bigger things, and paying via text message is just the latest in a long line of extra features on the once-humble mobile phone. If money is no object, you can now buy a phone that will act as a camera, web browser, SatNav, MP3 player and games console all in one. For those on a budget, even cheap mobile phones come with cameras, internet access and games.

If you want a higher-spec phone, you're more likely to get one on a contract. Pay as you go phones are usually more expensive as you're paying the full cost of the phone all at once. Some models are available on both PAYG and monthly tariff, the latter usually including the phone for free.

Cell Phones
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