Purchasing a contract University phone


How to choose the best mobile phone

Due to the rapidly changing nature of the smartphone market, Information Services has determined that it would be unwise to recommend any given model. This guide is therefore intended to give you a better understanding of the things to look for when choosing which smartphone to buy.

Operating system

When choosing a smartphone, the first decision to make is which operating system to use(the software that makes things work). There are four main smartphone operating systems: Apple iOS, Google Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS. While all work in a similar way, each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Apple iOS
This operating system is only available on the Apple iPhone. Its big advantages are that its often seen as being very easy and intuitive to use, and has a wide range of high-quality apps in its apps store. On the downside it is usually very expensive to purchase, and is seen as being quite inflexible. Devices running this operating system can sync university email, contacts, calendars’, and tasks and can connect to CampusNet and eduroam.

Android is a mobile operating system by Google and is found on a wide range of smartphones from different manufacturers. The best quality handsets are currently made by HTC and Samsung. It has the same basic features as iOS, although each manufacturer usually adds its own features on top. Android has a very good quality app store, and often comes with a basic office suite pre-installed and has a greater range of cheaper, mid-range smartphones compared to Apple. Devices running this operating system can sync university email, contacts, calendars’, and tasks and can connect to CampusNet and eduroam.

BlackBerry OS
This operating system is only found on BlackBerry smartphones. We tend not to recommend this operating system, as it cannot connect to mail in the same way as iOS and Android, and cannot connect at all to contacts, calendars or CampusNet.

Windows Phone
Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and 8 mobile operating systems are found on devices made by Nokia, HTC and Samsung. Devices running this operating system can sync university email, contacts, calendars’, and tasks, can connect to eduroam but cannot connect to CampusNet.


We would recommend a screen between 3.5 and 5-inches. You should find these easy to use in one-hand, whilst still being large enough to view web pages or watch content and type using the touchscreen. A high screen quality can greatly improve your experience with the device, rendering text sharp and easy to read, whilst being bright enough to view easily in bright sunlight. A pixel density of above 220dpi should ensure good legibility.


A fast processor makes a faster phone. This in turn provides a smother experience when using apps and navigating menus. You should be looking for a smartphone with a dual or quad-core processor with speeds of 1.2GHz or more.


Modern smartphones have processing power akin to a desktop computer, the downside of this is heavy battery drain. You will have to charge your phone every day, no matter which model you choose, a battery rated at around 2100mAh or above will give a reasonable time between charges. It may also be worth noting that many phones do not have a removable battery, which means it cannot be replaced if required.


Storage space dictates how many apps, photos, music, documents etc. you can fit on your phone. You should be looking for at least 8GB of storage.

There are several websites that can be used to compare handsets.

An example would be http://www.omio.com/deals/sim-free or http://www.comparemobiledeals.com/networks/SIM-Free If you choose to use either of these sites, please ensure that you choose to compare SIM free, unlocked handsets.


The University contract

The University is a registered participant in the contract awarded by the Scottish Government to the Vodaphone network under the terms of the Mobile Solutions II framework agreement.

To discuss your requirements or order a mobile phone contract / device, contact information.centre@stir.ac.uk 



Travelling with your phone


Before taking your mobile phone abroad make sure that you understand the cost and connection implications. The cost of international calling is much higher than calling domestically. Before you leave, it is important contact your network provider to clarify their international call charges. In most cases this can be found on their website.
To demonstrate the cost of calling from abroad the table below details what O2 charge pay monthly customers:

World Zones

Calling to the UK from included countries (per min)

Calling within Zone (per min)

Calling out of Zone (per min)

Receiving a call (per min)

Sending a text

Sending a media message

W. Europe







E. Europe







USA and Canada







Asia and Pacific







Rest of the world







Contact your network provider, ask if they have any specific packages or bolt on’s for international calling. These can offer a significant cost saving compared to standard charges.
If you decide to use your standard SIM ask your provider if international roaming needs to be enabled, either on your handset or at their end, in order to work when abroad. These requests can take a couple of weeks to process, so contact your provider well in advance.

Another way to reduce international calling costs is to purchase an international SIM card for your phone. These SIM cards are intended for use on foreign networks, and offer significant savings compared to domestic SIM’s. These SIM’s can be purchased online, at airports, and in some specialist high street retailers.

If you wish to take your smart phone abroad but do not want to incur the extra charges associated you can choose to turn off roaming and/or cellular data completely, this will allow you to send/receive data only when connected to wireless networks.

Turn Off Data Roaming Turn Off Data Connection (iOS4 only)
Tap “Settings” Tap “Settings”
Tap “General” Tap” General”
Tap “Network” Tap “Network”
Set data “Data Roaming” to “off” Set “Cellular Data” to "off".

Turn Off Data Roaming Turn Off Data Connection
Tap “Settings” Tap “phone”.
Wireless & networks Dial *#*#4636#*#* to open the “Testing” screen.
Mobile networks Tap on Phone Information.
Ensure there is no tick next to “data roaming” Press the Menu key or button.
Tap on More.
Tap on Disable data connection.
To turn data back on follow the same process but select Enable data connection at the end.

Turn Off Data Connection
Go to home
Select Manage connections
Remove the check next to Mobile Network
Place a check next to Wi-Fi to enable the wireless connection.


In order to charge your handset, you will need a travel plug adapter for your mobile phone charger as UK voltage rates and plug forms are often not compatible when abroad.
Check that your mobile phone will work on the transmission frequency of the country you are visiting. Phones can be dual, tri or quad-band, this will dictate which frequencies it works on. All phones sold in the UK will be at least dual-band, which means that they can be used throughout Europe and in some other countries. You will need a tri-band phone for North and South America and some areas may need a quad-band device.


If your mobile phone is lost or stolen you will need to contact your network provider to arrange for the phone/SIM card to be blocked. In order to do this they will need your mobile's IMEI serial number, your mobile phone number and the make/model of the handset. Keep a note of these with you when travelling.
Ensure that your travel insurance policy provides coverage for your handset, or that your mobile phone insurance is valid when abroad. This is often not the case, although additional cover can often be purchased.



External sites

The link below will direct you to Money Saving Expert’s guidance on taking your mobile device abroad.

This site has a lot of excellent advice and tips as well as up to date guides such as:
The best roaming deals given by the major mobile networks

The best roaming SIM for your destination

How to use VOIP clients, such as Skype, to cut your call costs.

Cable.co.uk (ofcom accredited telecoms advice website) guide to top 5 mobile networks for roaming (June 2014)



Important Contact Numbers

It is worth storing the following emergency contact numbers in your handset before travelling:

Your network provider
O2 0844 809 0202 Orange 07973 100 439
T-Mobile 0845 412 5000 Three 0843 373 3333
Virgin 0845 6000 789 Vodafone 08700 700 191
Tesco Mobile 0845 301 44 55

Your travel insurance provider's helpline number

Your hotel or tour operator’s helpline number

The telephone number of the local British Embassy
Below are the numbers of useful government offices and agencies
Foreign & Commonwealth Office Enquiries +44 (0) 207 008 1500
Services for Briton’s overseas +44 (0) 207 008 0210
Travel Advice +44 (0) 845 850 2829

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