Shopping for a smartphone and navigating all of the technical specifications can be confusing. It’s a big purchase—you want to get it right to get the best value, and the best fit.

Devices have gotten so complex, there’s a litany of technical terms and jargon out there that can overwhelm even the experts among us. Awhile back, we outlined the basics of choosing a good smartphone camera. Here, we’ll explain a few other key smartphone specs to help you make sense of it all.

Processing: The processor is the heart and soul of your phone. Different processors are classed by speed, expressed in gigahertz, or GHz. Modern processors are made up of multiple cores, which are individual processing units that can handle separate tasks. Duties can be split among the cores, allowing for parallel computing, and thus, faster output. Simply put, the faster a processor is—and the more cores it has—the faster your phone should be. 

Display: Display technologies are always changing, and there are a number of factors that affect the quality of a phone’s screen. One of the key factors is resolution, which refers to the number of pixels present in a display. Think of a pixel as one unit of the screen that is illuminated to compose an image. Modern displays contain millions of pixels, and the number is typically expressed in a “width by height” figure in landscape format, like 1920 x 1080. The higher resolution the display is, the more pixels it packs in a given space, and the sharper the image quality will be.

Battery: Battery size is measured in milliamp hours (mAh). The higher the mAh, the greater the capacity, and the longer your phone should last on a charge—though other factors, like the power efficiency of your phone’s operating system and software, the display type, and amount of usage will have a huge impact on battery life.

Memory: Memory on a smartphone is expressed in two ways. Random access memory (RAM) refers to memory used to store things like active operations and programs. When you load an app, close it, and move to another app, the first app is stored in your device’s RAM.  Read-only memory (ROM) is more commonly referred to as “storage” because it refers to the amount of space you have to store new files and media, like photos, songs or apps, on your device. Most phones today come with at least 32GB of ROM, though higher amounts are becoming more common as the range of smartphone uses grows.

Smartphone technology just keeps getting better—today’s value or mid-range phones often match or better the specs of “premium” models from just a few years ago. By understanding what any phone you’re considering offers for these key items, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect from its performance, and whether that phone will be right for how you intend to use it.


  1. Judy says

    Only complaint I have with CC is the hold time on the phone when I call.!!

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Judy, I understand that the wait times can be frustrating and we are diligently working to get that resolved for our customers as quickly as possible by hiring and training new agents. In the meantime, we also have live chat available on our website here.

      • Helen Allen says

        Just bought as TomTom GPS which uses WiFi with my phone rather than the old plug in to ‘cigarette lighter’ in car. Will I be using data if I decide to keep it? On pg 17of my CC info book it says using WiFi does not use data, but I would like to verify that. THanks

        • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

          Hi Helen, Wi-Fi would be referring to home internet. When you’re using the hotspot feature on your smartphone with our service, it is using mobile data.

    • PHE says

      The live chat is quick. I’ve used it a few times. There is a short wait while they look up answers but no complaints here.

  2. Ray Kuykendall says

    How do I set up my voice mail?

    • Hi Ray, thanks for your question. To set up your voicemail you will press and hold down the number “1” on your dial pad until the phone says dialing voicemail. Once you dial in, the automated system will guide you through setting the voicemail up.

  3. Dorothea Hollander says

    How and where do I find a 5G phone? I’ve only been able to find 4G in my price range. Also if I get a new phone how do I transfer all my information?

    • Hi Dorothea, thanks for your question. If you have a 4G LTE phone that is VoLTE capable, it would continue to work on our service and may fit into your budget a bit better. Switching information will depend on the phone you are switching over to. Android phones would have you back up information to a Gmail account and then when you sign in, it puts the information back for you. Whereas Apple phones will have you back up to an Apple iCloud ID so that when you sign in on a new phone it’ll move the information for you.

  4. Kim says

    Can I keep my old number

    • Hi Kim, thanks for your interest! As long as the number remains active with the current provider during the transfer process, you can switch it over. We will also need the current account number, PIN number if there is one, billing address, and the account holder’s first and last name to submit to your current provider so that they will release the number to us so we would recommend having a bill readily available for this process.

  5. Patrick J Brown says

    I purchased a Gallaxy S10e and it is listed as a 4G phone when in fact it is a 3G phone and Consumer Cellular is no longer going to support 3G phones. Now I must pay off my current phone and spend double to purchase a new phone that supports 5G. Consumer Cellular is a rip off.

    • Hi Patrick, thank you for your post. The Samsung S10e is an LTE phone that has the VoLTE feature available for the phone to use. This means the phone will continue to work even with the updates to the towers. I apologize for the confusion that the email caused.

      • Barb says

        You should explain that in the phone’s description. I am also thinking of buying the Galaxy S10e because the description on your website says it is a 4G, and I would have been so mad if I got it and the phone settings said it is a 3G.

  6. Crystal says

    Can I get cc if I have an iPhone

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Crystal, in order to use your own Apple iPhone with our service, it will need to be a VoLTE-capable, unlocked, and GSM-compatible model. Please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee compatibility for all phone models, but we generally have good experiences with iPhones.

  7. keith mcclendon says

    my phone quit charging and it says “charging has paused your device has exceeded ideal temperature range” but the phone and the battery are both cold.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Keith, we’d be happy to help with your phone and see what’s going on with the charging. You can give us a call at 888-345-5509 or chat with us here.

  8. Sue Secrete says

    I am having problems accessing the internet. Please advise.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Sue, our customer service team would be happy to help with your internet if you give us a call at 888-345-5509 or chat with us here.


    How can I check the data I have used up till now?

  10. Sandy Hibbard says

    How do I get to voice mail with out having to use a password? Would just like to call when notified of messages. Have an I 7 phone.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Sandy, if you want to enable Visual Voicemail for your iPhone, our customer service team can help you with that if you give us a call at 888-345-5509 or chat with us here.

  11. Richard Lawray says

    I have a Moto e5 phone; what’s the best deal for a phone upgrade to be compatible with the upcoming 5G?

    • Hi Richard, thanks for your question! The Motorola Moto E5 is actually a VoLTE capable phone which means that the phone will continue to work once the network updates. If you would still like to upgrade the phone though, all of the phones listed on our website will be able to be used going forward. You can take a look at the options we have and their pricing by going to our website here.

  12. Barbara Tripp says

    I would like to get another iPhone 6s but CC doesn’t have this one now. Can I purchase a new one from any merchant and still continue to have service and business connections with CC?

    • Hi Barbara, thanks for your question! If you purchase an iPhone 6 from somewhere else you will just want to make sure that it is completely unlocked from all other providers, is GSM-compatible, and VoLTE capable. We can’t guarantee compatibility for all models, but we’ve had good experiences in the past with iPhones moving to our network as long as they meet the mentioned criteria.

  13. Mary says

    How do you go about getting a phone and your service without waiting on hold forever ?

    • Hi Mary, thanks for your post. We definitely understand those hold times are frustrating and appreciate your patience as we hire and train more agents to help with it. If you are currently a customer with us, you can place an order for a phone by going to your online account here and click on the “Upgrade/Replace” option by your number. If you’re looking to sign up for service, you can also use our general website to place the order, or visit a partnered Target location to pick up a phone a well.

  14. Roxanne says

    I have a samsung galaxy J7 Sky Pro phone. Would i be able to use CC?

    • Hi Roxanne, thanks for your question! If the phone is unlocked from the provider, is GSM-compatible, and VoLTE capable, it may work on our network. We can’t guarantee compatibility for all models, but we’ll do all that we can to see if we can get it working on our network for you.

  15. Judith says

    do you offer a class that teaches the use o a smart phone? I never used one, I have a “dumb” phone.

  16. GREG GOLDEN says

    When we upgrade the iPhone 7 plus to an iPhone 11, how much trade-in credit can we get for the old phone?

  17. Arnold Lowry says

    Can the Jitterbug smartphone be used on the Consumer Cellular network?

    • Hi Arnold, thanks for your question. If the phone is unlocked from all providers, is GSM-compatible, and VoLTE-capable, it may work on our network. We can’t guarantee compatibility for all models, but we’ll do all that we can to see if we can get it connected for you.

  18. Gerri says

    Does the Samsung A10E have a back button and slide feature. If you order new phone and new acct online how long does it take to arrive?

    • Hi Gerri, thanks for your post. The phone doesn’t have any physical buttons on it aside from the power button and the volume buttons, but it does have a way to go back a page if needed. You can also scroll on the screen as needed.

  19. Arthur R Salas says

    I have a motorola g6 wath 3g, CC is upgrading to 4g or 5g. CC says that 3g will not work after upgrade. Way can’t i just purchase a 4g or 5g sim card from CC, and not have to purchase a new phone.

    • Hi Arthur, thanks for your question. The new Motorola phones that we are offering are VoLTE capable so they will continue to work with the updates happening to the network. I apologize for the confusion that this has caused.

  20. Elvira says

    Elvira; I have just purchase (2) Samsung A10E (waiting the arrival from cc) . What type of phones are these? & are they 3G or 4G ready. Can one do facetime with these phones?.

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Elvira, all of the phones that we are currently selling will work with the network changes. The Samsung Galaxy A10E is an LTE phone, and is VoLTE capable. FaceTime is a feature unique to Apple iPhones, but it can do video calling with third-party applications, such as Skype or Google Hangouts.

  21. Darell says

    Your information screen is a joke.

    • Hi Darell, thanks for your post. I’m sorry to hear about the trouble you’ve had with getting information regarding our service. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 800-686-4460 or you can also chat with one of our agents here for further assistance.

  22. Judy G says

    I have an Apple Watch that connects through my phone. Can I get service for the watch, that works independently from the phone? If so, will it require a separate number?
    Is there a way to use my current phone number for the watch and /or the phone?

    • Great question, Judy. At this time, we don’t offer support for iWatches outside of connecting them to the phone via Bluetooth, and we don’t have any near future plans for it at this time either. If this changes at any point though, we will let our customers know as soon as possible.

  23. Delbert w Crawford says

    No emails on our phones what’s wrong?
    have tex only

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Delbert, I see that you were able to discuss this with one of our agents. If you need any further assistance, please give us a call at 888-345-5509 or chat with us here.

  24. Judi R says

    Does my new Samsung Galaxy j3, or any others you sell, have a “Quick Response” feature to alert medical responders or friends/family if I should need help to get up because I’ve fallen down, or for any other similar situation?
    And do you have a simple Smart Phone that’s really easy-to-use and has a larger screen and bigger keyboard keys?

    • Hi Judi, great question! The Samsung J3 doesn’t have an option for a quick response to others in case of a fall. All of our smartphones do have the option for zooming in or turning the keyboard on its side to make it a larger screen. If you’d like, you can take a look at the options that we have to see if one would work for you by going to our website here.

  25. Sallyann Murray says

    My iPhone 6S Plus doesn’t hold charge for more than a couple of hours while I’m playing a game. What’s with that?

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Thanks for posting, Sallyann! Depending on the game you’re playing, it can be expected for the battery to drain quickly. If this isn’t typical with the game you’re playing, and this issue just started, I recommend giving us a call at 888-345-5509 or chatting here.

  26. Teresa says

    I have an iPhone and I use facetime a lot. Would I be able to continue with all my iPhone features if I were to switch to CC.

    • Hi Teresa, thanks for your interest! You can definitely use FaceTime while on our service along with the other features on the device as long as you have the plan that will help them to connect like the data connection.

  27. Steve Hanson says

    How do I change my phone number?

    • Nicole at Consumer Cellular says

      Hi Steve, you can give us a call at 888-345-5509 and one of our agents can help you change your phone number.