Read these 10 Music Phones Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Cellphone tips and hundreds of other topics.
Polyphonic ringtones -- the ones that sound like a cheesy 1970s synthesizer -- are so 1999. Today, if you want cool ringtones you want to download real ringtones. These are MP3 samples of real songs. But make sure that if you are paying for a real ringtone, that's what you get. Look for names like Mastertones, Realtones and Truetones. These are the real thing. Stay away from Sound Choice or any other MP3 ringtone that uses a sound-alike cover version of the song unless you want to be both disappointed and poor.
Sony Ericsson's W800i and the new w900i Walkman phones are the top-rated music cell phones on many cell phone review sites. They combine a solid sound system with a 2-megapixel camera, an FM radio, a GSM phone and a stylish exterior. The phones are compatible with downloads from Sony's Connect serivce and unaffiliated MP3 files, but won't play iTunes files or any of Microsoft's Plays for Sure-branded files. And since it's a Sony, it's Memory Stick-only.
Bottom line: A good phone for Sony fans, but limited for everyone else.
Two things everyone agrees on about the future of music cell phones; the business is going to be huge and no one has come up with the right model yet for dominating the market the way Apple dominates MP3 players with the iPod. But everyone is working hard to come up with the "killer app" that makes MP3-playing cell phones a must have.
What does this mean for you? If you've got to have a phone to play your MP3s, there are phones out there and they're getting better every day. But the longer you can carry both your iPod and your phone, the better your chances of catching that killer combo sometime in the near future.
Apple faithfuls have been waiting breathlessly for an Apple-branded cell phone that truly combines the iPod and cell phone functions on Apple's terms, rather than in a deal with Motorola. That's why the ROKR and SLVR have 100-song limits, the whisperers say. Apple didn't want to give away its franchise before coming out with its own hard-drive based phone that can hold thousands of iTunes downloads. But it's not going to happen, according to many serious Apple-watchers. Apple doesn't always play well with others and wants to own its markets. The phone market is already glutted with big players and Apple would have a hard time starting up on its own.
Bottom line: You won't see the iPod become a music cell phone anytime soon.
If you want a music cell phone that plays your iTunes downloads, you have one manufacturer to choose from: Motorola. And one network: Cingular. Motorola's ROKR and SLVR phones, available from Cingular, play iTunes downloads and sync with your computer's iTunes software. That's the good news. The bad news: Each phone is limited to a 100-song playlist. So while you're able to play some songs, you don't get to bring your whole collection with you.
If you're going to splurge on a music cell phone, try it out at a phone store, but purchase it online. You don't want to spend a lot of money for a phone that plays music without actually listening to what it sounds like, right? But it's almost always less expensive to purchase online. So once you make your decision, leave the store and search out the best prices on the Web. You don't get instant gratification, but you'll be a lot happier in the long run.
If you're serious enough about music to consider buying a specialized music cell phone, you need to make sure of one thing above all: Does your phone play music from your favorite music download service? If you have made an investment in iTunes downloads, you need an iTunes compatible phone: the Motorola ROKR or new SLVR. If you use Sony's Connect service, you need Sony's Walkman phone. If you just play MP3s, you have a lot more options.
Samsung's new SGH-1300 is a breakthrough music cell phone because it's the first phone with a hard drive, allowing greater storage of music files. No iTunes or Sony compatibility here, but since it uses Windows software it is compatible with the WMA-format downloads. This means you can use it with WMA-based services like Napster and Yahoo or any Plays for Sure-branded music. Oh yes, and it's not available yet here in the US and there's no timetable for release.
Ringtones can be expensive. And it can be hard to find the exact tone you want, especially if you're looking for real MP3 ringtones. There's a new tool out there that lets you create and upload your own ringtones. It's called Xingtone and it works only with Windows Media Player. But for $19.95 you can forget making payments each time you download a ringtone and instead rip them directly from your MP3 or CD connection.
Do you need a specialized music cell phone if you want to listen to music on your cell phone? If you want to sync with downloads you already have on your computer, yes. But if you don't mind buying music directly from Verizon or Sprint and downloading it to your phone, you have more choices. But be prepared to pay $15 to $25 per month for a data plan and then per song. So it can get expensive in a hurry. But it will give you song-on-the-go functionality in one device.