There was a time when choosing a phone meant picking between a heavy black desk model and a heavy black wall model. Today, there are so many cell phones to choose from, with so many different features and functions that it can be hard to make a choice at all. Going without a cell phone isn’t really an option these days; pay phones are largely a thing of the past and few businesses have phones that can be used by the public. Fortunately, there are cell phones to meet nearly every budget. Indeed, even those with no cell phone budget at all may be eligible to apply for a free government cell phone through a government-backed program. Here are some tips for choosing the right cell phone to fit your budget as well as your needs.

1. Smartphones
Smartphones are multi-purpose hand-held mini-computers that can support applications capable of doing nearly everything you can imagine, short of folding your laundry. These phones, which often feature touchscreen technology, are easy to use and can double as personal stereos, GPS units and even keyboards. They typically come with a large initial purchase price and require that you subscribe to a data package as well as regular cell phone service. If you want to be able to use your phone as a miniature computer, a smartphone may be a good option for you.

2. Voice Phones
Traditional voice phones are usually much cheaper initially than smartphones, and they don’t require expensive data plans. You can add limited Internet capacity to your phone package for a less-than-optimal Internet experience that should suit the needs of anyone who uses a cell phone primarily to make phone calls. Voice phones often come with alarm clocks, timers, calendars and calculators, but they don’t pretend to compete with the versatile smartphones on the market. These phones are perfect for emergencies or for keeping in touch with friends, family and business contacts. Compared to the sophisticated smartphone, a voice phone does little more than Grandma’s heavy black rotary model did. That old black workhorse kept Grandma connected to the world, though, and a voice phone will do the same for you.

3. Heavy-Duty Phones
In recent years, the cell phone market has seen the rise of the heavy-duty voice phone. These phones are designed to take a beating and keep on going. Made with virtually unbreakable glass and encased in high-impact rubber cases, the advertisements for some of these phones brag that they can withstand being submerged in water for a half an hour or to survive being dropped from a height of three stories onto concrete. If you are a construction worker or an extreme outdoorsman, these phones are likely to save you a lot of trouble and money.

Most people keep their cell phones for at least a year before they trade them in for a newer model. In addition, many people use their phones several times every day. It’s important that you choose your new cell phone carefully to ensure you won’t end up wishing you’d made a different choice.