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Smart Ways Smartphone Makers Are Attracting Basic Phone Users

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The world has left you behind and you're still holding onto that mobile flip phone. The higher cost, complexity or desire to be connected 24 hours a day has made smartphones unattractive and needless for 40% to 55% of the U.S. population.

Mobile companies still are trying new things to lure the rest of you who haven't joined the throngs. If you haven't shut yourself off from the idea of smartphone ownership-- or you're helping a parent or grandparent decide-- these new features or tips may be what it takes.
  • Make use of your local mobile store and ask employees for help. Sprint's(S) "Ready Now" service makes sure every new phone customer doesn't leave without a store employee offering to transfer contacts, set up email and walk through all the features of the new phone.
  • Look for an "easy" smartphone. Various companies offer uncluttered smartphones to lessen confusion for newbies. Fonts and icons tend to be larger, and a limited number of apps can be customized on the home screen. But you still have access to all the apps and features of a regular smartphone:
    1. The new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone includes the option to go into "Easy Mode," which is simpler interface with a clock, weather and date and six of the most used functions. There are only three screens, also with limited space for apps. Icons and fonts are larger.
    2. The Pantech Flex One uses the Android "Easy Experience" mode and has just one home screen. All the most commonly-used features are on it: Phone, Camera, Messages, and Menu, plus date, time and weather.
    3. The Jitterbug Touch is another phone targeting older adults. It's a full-fledged Android smartphone but the interface keeps things simple and large - everything is in list form.
  • Take a free class at the local Apple (AAPL - Get Report) or Microsoft (MSFT) store. Check with your mobile provider too. Verizon (VZ - Get Report) Wireless offers online and in-store workshops on getting started with a smartphone. More details at
  • Find a cheaper smartphone and plan. There are unlimited data plans out there for as little as $35 a month (at pre-paid mobile provider Virgin Wireless). That's a big savings from where monthly prices were just a few years ago. Over at T-Mobile (TMUS - Get Report), the carrier now offers contract-free smartphone plans, starting at $50. Some of these offerings may limit speeds after hitting a certain megabyte, but overall, it's a cheaper way to get started on a smartphone.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Tamara Chuang is an outside contributor to TheStreet. Her opinions are her own.

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