There are more cell phones to choose from today than ever, so deciding which one is right for you can get confusing...quick!

Here are 10 tips to help you with your next purchase.

1. Form Follows Function

You want to be sure you are purchasing a phone that will deliver all the features and capabilities you want and need. Rather than think in terms of what you used your last phone for, think instead of what you would like your next phone to be able to do! If email is important to you, that instantly presents WinMo phones and BlackBerries as options. If texting is your thing, then a spacious, comfortable keypad is critical.

2. Get the Best Deal you Can

There are more options for purchasing phones today than ever. Changes in carrier policies and new regulations allow customers to, say, purchase a phone on the internet and bring it to a carrier to have it activated. Some carriers, like Verizon, set up kiosks at local events and add special offers on top of your 2-year renewal discount. I recently purchased my BlackBerry Tour and received a $100 2-year renewal discount, an additional $70 discount in the form of a Visa card, and because I was at a car show where Verizon had set up a kiosk, they offered me another $35 discount if I purchased then and there.

3. Save Everything

When you get a new phone, save all the original materials, including the box, manuals, home charger, etc. When you buy your new phone, sell your old one. I used Craig's List to sell my old BlackBerry Curve, and it sold immediately. Because I had all the original materials, the ad I ran was that much more enticing. Selling your old phone can easily make up the difference in the cost of the new one!

4.Get Insurance

If you are purchasing a high-end phone like a BlackBerry or an Iphone, insurance is very important. Without it, your replacement cost will be extremely expensive. With insurance, you will generally have a $50 deductible, which is much better than the eye-popping full retail price. You can terminate your insurance at any time, so should the monthly insurance fee reach a point where you feel it is longer cost-effective, you will always have the option to remove it from your bill.

5. Buy a Car Charger

It's good advice to buy a brand-name car charger and leave it in your car. I promise you there will come a time when you will be very glad you did. Oh, and the reason I say "brand-name" is because off-brand chargers are built to such a low standard that they can actually damage your phone over time. So when it comes to accessories, any geek worth his salt will tell you: brand name, not no name.

6. Buy a Case

Protect your investment. A case can make all the difference when you eventually drop your phone. Some cases provide more protection than others, but most will aid you in inclement weather, drops, spills, etc. Don't limit yourself to the cases sold at your carrier's store. There is a whole industry on the internet specializing in cases.

7. Control the Sale

Be firm and friendly and set a tone that tells the salesman that you don't want a song and dance --- you want a phone. Ideally, try to do your research over the internet prior to entering the store, so the visit should be more of a formality than a long sales pitch.

However, there are always new offers and carrier-sponsored features that you may not be aware of, and it would behoove you to allow the salesman to at least sketch them out for you.

8. Make use of the Return Policy

During the first week with your new phone, try to put it through its paces. Are you completely happy with how it feels and responds to your touch? If not, bring it back and find something better.

9. Read Reviews

When you decide on a phone, see what the experts have to say about the model. If they give it a big thumbs-up, then you have made a good decision. If there is a significant problem with the phone, you will be warned in advance. You can check out our cell phone reviews section to help you decide which model is best for you.

10. Make Your Phone Work for You

Many folks never take the time to discover just how powerful their phone is or how much it can do for them. I'm on my third BlackBerry and each week I learn something new about my phone that really helps improve my productivity. Whatever phone you choose, chances are it can do more than you think. So take some time to walk through the features and functions and use them to your advantage.

Final Thoughts

For many people, a new phone means a new two year commitment. So since you'll be married to your new phone for at least a couple of years, the above steps will not only help you make the right decision and protect your investment, but will help you get the most from your old phone and become and expert with your new one!

Happy Shopping!