Smartphones have ushered in a digital revolution of sorts. These powerful handheld devices have made our lives easier and more efficient. The range of things a smartphone can do, makes it a companion for life.
Although being all powerful and sophisticated, choosing the right mobile still remains a challenge. There are a lot of factors to be taken into consideration while buying a phone. If you are still confused, this comprehensive buying guide can help.
The thickness of a phone determines the handling of the device. Ultra-slim phones (thickness lesser than 8mm) are easy to hold and operate. These devices can slip easily into your pockets too. Slim phones (thickness - 8mm to 10mm) are quite comfortable to hold as well. However, thick phones (thickness greater than 10mm) are a little difficult to hold which makes them uneasy to operate.Read More
The lighter a phone, the easier it can be held in hands or carried along. Any smartphone which weighs less than 140 grams falls into the lightweight category. The heavy phones weigh above 150 grams which makes them a little hard to carry or keep in pockets. Any phone which is lesser than 150 grams is a good choice.Read More
The build of a phone is a factor that determines the durability of the device. A plastic body makes the device susceptible to cracks if it hits the ground. A metal frame works better and gives better grip as well. A device that has at least a metal lining around the frame will work well.Read More
The screen size is of prime importance. A small screen (less than 4 inches diagonally) is on a phone that can be held easily in a hand but makes watching movies or browsing difficult.
A medium screen size (4 to 5 inches) is optimal for users who use a smartphone for basic functions like browsing, playing games and watching movies. A large majority of users prefer medium screen devices.
A large screen size (above 5 inches) is necessary if you are a lover of big screens. A large screen device (usually called a phablet) increases the readability and is a pleasure for watching videos. However, the downside to a large screen is the difficulty in carrying the devices.
Resolution is important and determines if a phone can display high-quality pictures and play HD videos. A resolution of 1920*1080, 1280*720 pixels is called high resolution.
Low resolution screens cannot play HD videos (720p or 1080p) and the quality of images displayed are lower than high-quality resolution screens.
Pixel density is responsible for the sharpness of text and images displayed on a phone. iPhones which have a retina display of 326 ppi (pixels per inch) is the threshold for maximum clarity. Images and text appear blurry if smartphones have a pixel density less than 300 ppi.
A lot of display technologies are involved in bringing out a good quality display on smartphones. A look into the types of displays,
TFT standing for Thin Film Transistor, these touchscreens give good viewing angles and higher resolution. However, the visibility under direct sunlight takes a hit with TFT Capacitive touchscreens.
They consume a moderate amount of battery power and are cheaper than other display technologies available.
A more advanced touchscreen display is the In-Plane Switching (IPS) LCD Capacitive touchscreen. They have wider viewing angles when compared to TFT displays. The visibility under sunlight is good and it does not hamper battery life.
Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED) display is gaining popularity after Samsung started using it in premium smartphones. AMOLED display has bright color reproduction, better battery life and good sharpness. The only downside is the visibility under sunlight.
Super AMOLED displays remove the big drawback of AMOLED screen - low visibility under direct sunlight. The display is more responsive than AMOLED and is the thinnest technology among others.
A screen which is crack and scratch resistant is an added advantage. Phones with screen protection can survive hard knocks and unexpected falls to the ground. Gorilla Glass and Dragon Trail are the two popular screen protection technologies available now.
Processor is responsible for managing the tasks of a smartphone. Things like multitasking or opening an app can be smoothly executed with the help of a processor. There are two things that determine the efficiency of a processor - number of cores and clock speed.
The number of cores make a significant difference to the performance of a smartphone. A single core device has one core in a CPU while a dual core device has two cores. Dual core improves efficiency and executes more tasks at the same time. It is good to go for a quad core or octa core device as they are more efficient and function smoothly.
“Clock Speed” is a term used to refer the operating speed of a processor. The higher the clock speed, the smoother is the device. You will have less lagging when opening apps, playing games and watching videos. Any device above 1GHz of clock speed is fast and can be used for multitasking.
A good graphic processor is necessary for smooth playing of 3D games and HD videos. They help share the processor load and improves battery efficiency. An Adreno or ARM Mali GPU is ideal for playing HD videos and 3D games without many lags.
RAM deals with the easy access of information needed to start an application and in managing many applications simultaneously. More RAM translates into faster loading and smoother running of apps. It also helps in multitasking.
A RAM greater than 1GB will be good for multitasking without any lags. A smartphone with 2GB of RAM can satisfy the requirement of an ideal user for browsing, running apps and playing games/videos.
Internal memory is the internal storage limit of a device. A bigger internal memory is always better. Ideally, 8GB of internal memory is comfortable for installing a lot of apps and some media files. However, a 16GB or 32GB version will be more convenient.
It is recommended that you clean up the internal memory by deleting unwanted apps, cache files and games from time to time.
External memory is the storage on a microSD card that is supported by smartphones. They help reduce the load on internal memory - especially when it is low. Most smartphones support a memory expansion up to 32GB using a microSD card.
Developed by Google, Android is an easy-to-use and highly customizable OS. There are more than a million apps available on Google Play - the app store for Android users. Since the OS is an open source software, a lot of manufacturers make use of it.
The current version of Android is v.5.1.1 Lollipop. The next version Android v.6.0 Marshmallow is expected to roll out soon with more customization options. If you are looking for a lot of customization options and more control over your device then Android is the best platform.
Made exclusively for Apple devices, the iOS gives a smooth and wonderful experience without any lags. The Apple App Store has more than a million applications and the latest version of the OS is iOS 8.4.1 released this year.
If glitch-free performance and sophistication is what you are after, then the iOS platform will suit you best.
If you are familiar with the Windows OS in computers, then you will get accustomed to Windows Mobile OS in no time. The OS offers live tiles which provides all needed information without even opening an app.
However, there are not many apps available for Windows Mobile OS. If you want to try out a new OS, then Windows will be good.
The capacity of a battery is the direct measure of battery power. The higher the capacity, the longer a battery can last. The measurement for capacity is mAh. Most smartphones have a battery capacity ranging between 2000 to 3000 mAh.
Talk-time and stand-by time increase the battery life during calls and while lying idle respectively. A phone which has a battery capacity over 3000mAh is considered long-lasting.
Removable batteries allow you to remove them when they drain out or in case they are dead. Non-removable batteries are to be removed only by a service-center professional in case there is something wrong with it.
It is advisable to buy a smartphone with removable batteries as they can be replaced by oneself without any help.
There are two kinds of batteries – Li-Po and Li-ion. Li-ion batteries cost less and are thick. These batteries require low maintenance. However, they drain quickly even when the device is not used.
Li-Po (Lithium Polymer) batteries are thin and flexible. They are used in phones with a curved design because these batteries can fit in easily.
Wireless connectivity options allow your phone to be easily connected to another device in the vicinity. They are the fastest and easiest way of transferring files between devices.
You can share files, photos and videos through Bluetooth. They are compatible with smartphones, laptops and tablets. The current version is Bluetooth 4.0 which is compatible with many devices.
A device which is Wi-Fi compatible can wirelessly connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot made by another phone to access the internet. The latest version of Wi-Fi is Wi-Fi 802.11 A/B/G/N AC
There are a few devices which have NFC connectivity. NFC enabled devices allow fast sharing of content and files with some additional features like one tap payment option available.
An USB connector is still a very useful way to transfer files and other data through a wired connection. A mini or micro-USB will do the job. A USB On-The-Go will let your phone detect a USB pendrive.
GPS lets you see your current location in a map and makes it easy to find the direction of your destination. There are also some apps like Facebook and Twitter that help check-in your location.
This sensor is used by apps in the phone to detect the orientation of your phone and do certain changes automatically. Things like shaking a phone to change the music or aligning the screen to match the direction of the phone are done by accelerometer sensor.
Important during voice calls, proximity sensors disable touch commands when a user puts a phone near his/her ear. This will prevent the unwanted touch commands that can be triggered if the phone is on.
While playing games that need you to tilt your phone, gyroscope works with accelerometer to detect phone’s rotation and adjust screen accordingly.
The ambient light sensor detects the surrounding light and adjusts the brightness of the screen to match perfect viewing. This features save the battery life of the device.
Most of the smartphones run on GSM and this has the advantage of easy swapping of SIM cards from different providers to enjoy preferred services.
The call quality is exceptional in CDMA mobiles but the problem lies in changing the network. Very few handsets have the option to change providers and they are limited as well.
2G, 3G and 4G connectivity features are available in both GSM and CDMA mobiles. A 2G connection is the very basic with internet speeds up to 144 kbps, 3G connection enables faster internet speeds up to 42.2 Mbps, while 4G connection has speeds up to 100 Mbps.
Smartphones have the option to take in one SIM or two SIM cards. A dual SIM phone is preferable as it gives you the option of using an additional network.
A high resolution camera takes very detailed shots. The clarity of the photos are good and so is the detailing. Ideally, a camera which has a resolution above 5MP is quite clear with the shots captured. 8MP cameras at the back of the phone are common and they work well for photos and videos.
Camera that can capture videos of high definition (1080p or 720p) have good video clarity when recording videos. Frame rate is one thing to be noted if you want a camera with good video recording capabilities.
More frame rate translates into smoother video recording. Ideally, 30fps to 120fps will work good on a smartphone for smooth recording.
A flash with the back camera is necessary to take good quality shots that are bright in a dark surrounding. Xenon flash and dual LED flash are the brightest flashing options that come with a smartphone.
The zooming ability of the smartphone results in focus on a particular area with more clarity. An optical zoom is better than a digital zoom which reduces the image quality on zooming in.
An Optical Image Stabilization option lets you click pictures without the blur effect. Shaking a device can cause blurring to the image that is clicked. Optical Image stabilization takes care of that.
A multimedia player that can support audio formats like MP3, WAV, AAC, WMA etc. and ability to play videos in DivX, H.263, H.264, MP4 and 3GP formats is essential. However, you can download preferential players from the app store available on your phone.
An FM radio comes pre-installed with a lot of smartphones. They allow you to switch stations and listen to your favorite songs or programs. They also come with recording to record what you hear.