What to consider when buying a smartphone

Given the fact that we practically do everything with a smartphone, it is important to be selective when you are in the hunt for the right device. The amount of options to choose from can be overwhelming and that is why many we have compiled a list of the most important aspects to keep in mind when you are looking for the best smartphone for you.

OS

In terms of Operating Systems, the main options available in the market are iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Google’s OS if the most popular smartphone platform thanks to the fact that it is used by a wide range of option from some of the leading phone manufacturers including Samsung and HTC.  Android is more flexible than iOS, which allows smart phone manufacturers to develop more alternatives and gives developers more freedom to create new applications. While Apple usually gets the most sought after apps and games first, Google Play store counts with an impressive catalogue and there are apps for anything you can imagine. The downside is that some options may be difficult to navigate and become unresponsive.
Apple’s iOS7 is a step forward in terms of design, multitasking and an overall user friendly interface. Still, there are some aspects that are not as simple such as the Notification Center. As mentioned before, Apple store is usually ahead when it comes to high quality apps, even though Android is stepping up its game and is expected to equal and surpass its competition in this aspect. Still, it is clear that Apple has worked on making Siri better and their iTunes Radio is great.

Microsoft’s OS is the third competitor in the scene, mainly thanks to the success of Nokia’s Lumia phones. The dynamic interface with Live Tiles and regular updates is an advantage for many, as users can easily customize the size and settings. A big plus is the fact that Office and Outlook integration,  Xbox games, videos and music are included. However, the Windows Phone Store is still well behind Android and iOS when it comes to number and variety of apps available.

Size

In spite of the growing popularity of phones with large displays (5 inches or more) known as phablets, the iPhone 5s, with a screen of just 4 inches, is still the best selling smartphone in the United States. Many users prefer the convenience of a smaller display as the phone would be easier to carry around. However, for those that prefer a larger screen, there are great options from Android and Windows Phone.

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A larger screen (such as the 5.7 inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3) is ideal for watching movies, playing games and going through your pictures but keep in mind that these phones will require you to use both hands. If the fact that these phablets are also heavier does not put you off, you may go for options with even larger displays such as the HTC One Max with a screen of 5.9 inches and the Nokia Lumia 1520 that has a 6-inch screen.

A larger screen (such as the 5.7 inch Samsung Galaxy Note 3) is ideal for watching movies, playing games and going through your pictures but keep in mind that these phones will require you to use both hands. If the fact that these phablets are also heavier does not put you off, you may go for options with even larger displays such as the HTC One Max with a screen of 5.9 inches and the Nokia Lumia 1520 that has a 6-inch screen. In spite of the size and difficulty to carry them in a pocket, for some users large screen phones may seem as a way to have a phone and a tablet in the same device.

Specifications

It is important to pay attention to the quality of the phone’s processor as it has a strong impact in the performance of your device. A fast processor will enable you to access apps quickly and will let you play games without issues. The current leading technology when it comes to processors for Android and Windows Phone is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800, which is soon to be followed by the 805 version. Thanks to Snapdragon 800 devices like Lumia 1520 and Samsung Note 3 can provide high quality graphics and a great multitasking capacity.

Other Snapdragon version that works really well is the 600, which is included in the HTC One and the S4 Pro, while the Snapdragon 400 CPU is good for basic phone tasks but not ideal for games or applications that require higher capacity, not to mention that it is quite slow when it comes to playing videos. When it comes to iOS, Apple’s A7 chip (featured in the iPhone 5s) provides an impressive 64-bit power which allows for high quality graphics and overall great performance.

Memory is another feature that you should consider, as it determines in great part, how well a phone would work. The top devices in the market at the moment count with 2GB to 3GB of RAM and cheaper versions oscillate between 1GB to 1.5 GB. If you are looking to load applications fast and be able to switch between them smoothly, you need to choose a device with a high RAM.

We talked about the size of the screen before but there are other aspects that matter such as the colour, sharpness and brightness. At the moment, the sharpest screens available for smartphones are the 1080p (1920 x 1080 pixels) as they offer a great quality of image. Also, make sure to check the viewing angles by holding the smartphone in your hand and checking if the screen fades out as you tilt the phone.

Last but not least, when it comes to specs that you should check for, storage and expansion are other crucial points to consider. Your smartphone is where you expect to keep a large number of files including pictures, videos and music, as well as apps. This is why you need to make sure to choose a device with a good storage capacity. The average is 16GB but if you want to make sure that you have more than enough space, you should opt for 32GB.   The HTC One and the iPhone 5s are options with that storage capacity.

Camera

Many people believe that the best camera is the one that has more megapixels but the reality is that the quality of the sensor and images are more important. Even cameras with just 8 MP such as the iPhone 5s can offer great pictures thanks to its news sensor which enables bigger pixels, which results in sharper images.

 

Keep an eye for useful features. For instance, the Note 3 and the Galaxy S4 feature an effective Eraser option that would remove anything in the background of the image that ruins the photo. Other devices that include convenient modes include the Nokia Lumia 1020, which offers manual controls that enable users to take the best pictures under any kind of conditions, it also includes Optical image stabilization to avoid blurry pictures, this feature is also found in the LG G2.

Battery

Finally, we get to a basic aspect that will determine your experience with your smartphone: battery capacity. In general, smartphones need to be charged more often than regular mobile phones as they offer many more options and use more battery time. Still, you can choose a smartphone with a good battery capacity, which allow you to use your device for longer before requiring a charge. The best battery capacity available in the market at the moment goes from 3000 mAh (milliamp hours) or above. The LG G2 has a battery of this capacity and tests have determined that it can last over 13 hours per charge, even when using it to surf internet and accessing multiple applications. Considering that the average phones lasts just under 7 hours, this is very impressive.

 

Think about all the above aspects before buying a smartphone and also how you intend to use you device and what is more important for you.

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