The Java mobile industry has  been booming. The general mobile user has always loved the ‘versatility’ (and I use the term loosely) of what was once upon a time called the Chinese Mobile. They offered a few things that not even the biggest players in the game could, like Dual SIM functionality and touchscreen displays on normal candy-bar handsets at obscenely low prices. These handsets have now been refined to an extent and re-emerged under brands that keep cropping up almost on a weekly basis, I wish I were exaggerating about that. Considering their vast numbers, shapes and sizes, here are five generic points to keep in mind if you’re in the market for one of these java mobiles.

1. Keypad
It’s really important to keep in mind that even though these handsets come in somewhat varied shapes, the core design is essentially the bar form. A very important factor to take into account before purchase is the keypad. With texting and social networking taking precedence over other handset features, it’s vital for the keypad to be comfortable for prolonged usage. Irrespective of whether it’s QWERTY, standard alphanumeric, or virtual (in case of touchscreen handsets) it must be well designed enough to facilitate easy as well as quick typing.

2. Connectivity Ports
Proprietary ports are just annoying. It limits the availability of using alternative standardized cables or chargers. Look for mini or micro USB connectors for PC connectivity. It’s also a problem when manufacturers include just a single all-in-one port for charging, USB and handsfree connectivity. You should also bear in mind that a 3.5mm handsfree socket implies you’re free to use a better set of earphones if you desire and of course that also makes getting replacement’s easy.

3. User-Friendly UIs
There’s nothing much you can do about the operating system as it’s pretty much identical across the bar. However each company tends to design a user interface over this Java OS to try and make the handset a little more appealing. You’ll have to look past the fancy colors and icons to figure out just how easy it is to use on a regular basis. It’s usually just the desktops and music player skins that are customized. Some of the touchscreen devices provide for access to plenty of functions directly from the desktop making some features single click access.

4. Social Networking and Email

You can’t expect too much in the way of connectivity with most of these budget handsets. As a standard most of them support basic WAP for internet and some offer GPRS support. When it comes to Bluetooth connectivity, quite a wide range support A2DP or stereo Bluetooth. With social networking being so popular these days look for apps like Nimbuzz or dedicated Facebook, Twitter or Orkut apps that come preloaded with many devices. Some devices also come with additional IM Chat applications as well. Quite a few (not all) of these handsets that support GPRS will come with IMAP and POP email support.

5. Multimedia options
Of course most of these handsets are designed to provide ample amount of multimedia. In this category one should look for a music player that preferably comes with EQ presets to help enhance audio. An even better option would be to have a customizable graphic EQ setting as well. In a majority of cases, handsets with this particular feature have fared much better in terms of total audio output. The FM radio should have a recording option and the video player should be capable of playing standard 3GP and MPEG 4 files in a 320 x 240 pixel resolution without framing. That’s hard to find but the handsets that do support that are worth considering. Don’t worry too much about the camera, most of these 2MP, 1.3MP or VGA cameras (usually the resolution in this range) aren’t all that great but most are provisioned to be used as a Webcam when connected via USB to your PC so look for that feature.

Keep these points in mind when deciding on an ultra budget handset and you should end up with one that will serve all your needs from listening to your tunes to updating your status wherever. The price tags on handsets that would incorporate all of the above are quite reasonable, but to get the best out of even that low a price look for the ones that offer additional accessories like extra batteries, a pouch or even a memory card. Happy hunting!

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