When picking a smartphone there is no reason for you to be anything other than picky. After all, you are going to be stuck with that device for a couple of years maybe. You will communicate with other people, browse the internet on it, watch videos, listen to music, take photos, play and the list could go on and on. But the phone’s capabilities are not the only aspect worth your attention. The carrier and all its implications are the other vital part of owning a smartphone. What is the purpose of owning a smartphone if you do not have enough internet traffic included or the coverage of your carrier’s network is not large enough? Or what if the data transfer speed is low?
So taking into consideration all of these things, you need to be extremely careful when choosing your future smartphone and make sure that all your future needs will be satisfied by it. This is all the more important as switching costs are extremely high in many parts of the world for the specific reason of keeping you as a customer. With that being said, let’s take a look at what are the basic things you need to look at when choosing a smartphone.
Three is the magic number as well when it comes down to major operating systems nowadays. With some companies that used to fair well in the past now desperately trying to keep up ( see Blackberry), we are more or less left with three major operating systems: Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Each of them has its pluses and its minuses so we’re going to focus on what each one has to offer to the average user.
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For starters, Android is the most popular mobile operating system out there now. It is unmatched in terms of number of devices that run it at the moment and , by most standards, in terms of customization options. Most of the phone manufacturers existent enable their phones to run on Android. The system offers so many options that they customize it even from the factory. Many providers even created their own touch interfaces, Samsung having their “TouchWiz”, HTC having “Sense”, etc. But customization is not only limited to manufacturers. Users can also modify it with just a few taps. Widgets, keyboards and many more aspects can be changed at any time for something more convenient.
The number of applications available for Android is also huge, with more than a million apps on the Play Store. Although there are not as many as apps on the Play Store as there are on the App Store, the gap is slowly closing. Nevertheless, there is still a slight tendency for the App Store to receive some apps before the Play Store and quality is sometimes slightly better on the iOS. But when it comes to advances, Android is the leader and it is the place where great new things make a first appearance.
The iOS is among the most popular mobile operating systems for a reason. For once, it is extremely stable and although hardware might not be as great as that of other phones, it is extremely efficient and everything is optimized for the iOS. Thus even the most demanding of users are satisfied by the performances they get when they play games or do any other kind of activity. Apple also has a strict control policy over the apps that are made available for the iPhone and because of this one can notice a certain degree of similarity between them all.
The iOS is not without flaw, it is far from that. There are little customization capabilities with the display, besides changing the wallpaper and arrangement of icons so you get more or less the same experience everyone else gets on their iPhones. The main issue, however, is the fact that Apple produces all the devices that run, so if you do not like their designs you are left with a dilemma.
Windows Phone may not be as popular as the precious two operating systems but it is nonetheless out there. Until recently, it lacked basic things such as multitasking or quick app resume, problems which were eventually solved. But some things have gone by unnoticed apparently and there are still issues, such as the absence of a good and proper notification center. The look of Windows Phone is interesting, with many interchangeable tiles that can also be resized, according to the user’s preferences. It is also capable of running just as good on an entry-level phone as it does on a high-end one.
There are now more than 200,000 apps for the Windows Phone which is about a fifth of what the App Store and the Play Store have at the moment. Also, the main manufacturer for phones with Windows Phone is Nokia so chances are you will buy a Nokia if your goal is the Windows Phone. Nokia phones have good screens and battery life but are somehow not as popular as other phones from other manufacturers.
Size and Specification
Now the look of your phone will be extremely important as you might have already figured out. Functionality is great and everything but if you don’t like what you see or what you feel when you simply pick up your phone or put it on the table than functionality is not enough to counterbalance this. So you have to think carefully about what suits you best when it comes to size and looks. Specifications are another vital aspect. You might want something from the entry-level range or something high-end. Depending on your tastes, there are a number of things to look at.
Phones appear today in various sizes. The ones with the best hardware usually range from 4 inches in display to about 5.7 – 6 inches. To make it easier, let’s group them in two categories: Phablets and standard-sized phones.
The first commercially successful phablets ( the name given to the phones with large displays) was the Samsung Galaxy Note series. The most recent iteration in this series is the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 which has a 5.7 inch display. The problem with larger phones is that even despite some recent tweaks, they are still difficult to operate with just one hand.
Standard sized phones are still the norm, despite the fact that phablets account for about a quarter of overall smartphone sales. They are more popular mostly due to their smaller size and lower price, as phablets tend to be more expensive than them due to their usually more sophisticated hardware.
When buying a smartphone you might be doing it having different things in mind. Some don’t take into consideration specifications when they buy a smartphone because they are not very interested in anything other than talking to other people and occasionally playing a game or two. But if you are interested in more than that, if hardware is of the essence for you then here are some of the basic things you need to take into consideration:
- Battery Life. The bigger a battery you phone will have the more it will be able to run on a single charge. For an average smartphone it is usually to have somewhere between 2400 mAh and 3000 mAh. The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 2600 mAh battery, for example, and with medium usage you will end up with half of the battery by the time work ends.
- RAM. The basic rule is the more RAM the better. High-end phones have somewhere between 2 GB of RAm and 3 GB but some are optimized to run on even less than that. But buying something with more than 2 GB of RAM is looking to the future and will guarantee you using it for a longer period.
- Processor. The processor will enable you to open apps quickly and will increase the overall performance of your device. The best processors out there right now are considered to be Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 and Apple’s A7. The latest phones on Android have the Snapdragon 800 while the A7 made its debut with the iPhone 5s.
- Screen. The display influences your experience more than you might think. Obvious differences are easily noticeable between an LCD screen and a Super AMOLED. More important than size or resolution are the pixels per inch. This is a good standard by which to judge screens and offers an accurate overview.
When buying a smartphone, compared to older phones, you now need to more seriously think about what carrier to choose. With all the different options each of them offers you and payment plans it is very difficult to establish an objective ranking of carriers. We looked at three basic elements that you should also check out when buying a smartphone.
You have to make sure that you carrier has enough coverage in your country so that you will not end up without internet too often or even worse, without signal overall. The top carriers around the world usually strive to have the best coverage available but there is always the need to check this out. The internet is the main issue here as it is very unpleasant to pay a significant amount of money and to have little internet access.
Carriers offer various payment plans to appeal to all their potential customers. On the moment it might prove difficult to choose between them so one should always look to the future and look at all the different perks that come with a payment plan. After all, a more expensive payment plan might prove to be better in certain instances.
Internet speed is vital for smartphones. If you browse the internet and it moves at horribly low speeds it is extremely unpleasant. It is of the utmost importance then to make sure data transfer speed is good enough.
If you manage to settle all of these different matters and decided which one of them suits you only have to deal with one small but significant issue: actually choosing the phone. If your idea was to get something running on iOS or Windows Phone from the start then this might not be a difficult choice. But if you would choose to go with Android then there is a world of possibilities right before you. You could go for one of Samsung’s flagship phones or a different model, or maybe a different manufacturer, such as HTC, or Sony or LG and the list could go on. Either way, there is little advice to be given here that does not include things already mentioned. It all comes down to taste here. So what smartphone would you choose?
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