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Buying a new smartphone? Here are 10 things to consider

There's more than one smartphone available out there today! These devices are no longer just for making calls or receiving SMS messages; you can run most aspects of your day-to-day life through your smartphone. As a result, it can be very difficult to know which smartphone is the one for you. Here are 10 things to consider when you're in the market for a new smartphone. 

Opinion by Jessica Murgia
The wide range of options for all tastes and budgets makes choosing even harder
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What kind of smartphone do you need?

Before choosing any smartphone you should get your priorities straight first. A smartphone is basically a computer you carry around in your pocket that allows you to perform various tasks. This can be anything from ensuring that you're able to remain connected with the outside world through to sitting in a darkened room playing Clash Royale. But how do you actually use your smartphone every day?

Before choosing any smartphone you should get your priorities straight first.

The point is that in order for you to send WhatsApp messages and publish a few posts on social networks you shouldn't really need to spend more than about $200. For a gamer who is not prepared to give up a fluid and smooth gaming experience, they had better be on the lookout for smartphones priced at around $400. Whereas those who want the best of the best in terms of design and performance will need to be prepared to spend from about $500 and up.

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So many options makes the choice complicated. / © AndroidPIT

Let's see what are the 10 most important factors to consider before choosing your next smartphone.

1. Mobile carriers and affordable plans

You want a new smartphone? Well, you're pretty much spoiled for choice. Before you whip out your credit card to purchase something online, you should search for the best cell phone plans offered by the various mobile providers. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile each have something interesting to offer customers, and will often provide complete packages including data, calls and SMS. Who knows, maybe it's the right time you to consider changing your current provider...you can even keep your current phone number.

Here are some offers from the big four networks in the US:

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Choosing a provider can be complex, but there's something for everyone. / © AndroidPIT

2. Operating system

If you're reading this article, you've already decided to focus on buying an Android-based device, but there are several versions, and versions of versions, of this Google software. Before buying a new smartphone, so you should brush up on your history of Android - or at the very least examine the differences between Lollipop (5.x)Marshmallow (6.x) and Nougat (7.x).

Besides these being great treats to satisfy even the biggest sweet tooth, these names correspond to different versions of the Android operating system and each offers unique features and functions. The latest Android version available is 7.1 Nougat, but unfortunately not all devices have the honor of showing it off. I advise you not to buy a smartphone with outdated versions of Lollipop and KitKat, and instead look for a smartphone with either Nougat or Marshmallow (and if you are guaranteed an upgrade to the newest and latest Android version, that's even better).

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Nougat is the latest version of Android released by Google. / © AndroidPIT

3. Design and functionality

In selecting a new smartphone, personal taste is a major decision point, both in terms of software and outward appearance. Some people may prefer more rounded lines and a sinuous design, whereas others like a sturdier look, characterized by straight lines and sharp metal edges. We must admit that with each passing month and the succession of launch events we see within the industry, smartphones are increasingly starting to resemble one another and the choice available is strongly influenced by marketing campaigns and trends. 

But, design is based on functionality. A metal unibody is stylish and trendy, but in some cases prevents you from using some features such as a microSD card or a removable battery. Before buying, check the quality of the device to ensure you'll be able to use it in the way which is most comfortable and convenient for you (provided these elements are important to you).

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Glass or leather? Curved lines or right angles? The dilemmas are endless. / © AndroidPIT

4. Size and type of display

For those who like to receive news updates or simply get lost in the HD graphics of the latest Android games, you should really consider a smartphone which is equipped with a display of at least 5.2 inches. For those that use the smartphone mainly for WhatsApp or to read Facebook posts, a smaller screen will be more than sufficient.

As for the display technology, there are two main types in Android: LCD and AMOLED. The main difference between the two lies in the projection of light. In theory, LCD screens tend to be brighter and display content better when in direct sunlight, while the AMOLED display offers sharper contrast and more saturated colors. In practice, however, with the passage of time and the arrival of new technologies, the difference between the two is becoming less noticeable. That said, Full-HD or QHD resolution for images are almost always impeccable. 

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The AMOLED displays tend to be move vivid. / © AndroidPIT

5. Processor

The processor is the hub of a device on which depends the overall performance. Sometimes, processor capability is what limits software updates. Qualcomm and Mediatek are a safe bet.

Meanwhile, Huawei with its Kirin processor is proving itself able to offer good performance to users. It should also be noted that for any processor to be its best, the amount of available RAM is crucial. Yes, the processor is important, but we need to look to the smartphone and its technical specifications as a whole.

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Snapdragon 820 vs 835! / © Qualcomm

6. Internal memory and space

When you're scoping out your next Android, check the RAM and internal memory, but not just what it says on the sticker. Take a look at how much space the preinstalled apps take up. Although you can use a MicroSD card to expand your smartphone's storage capacity, do not forget that a larger internal memory is recommended over using an external card

At the same time, before you opt for a model with 64 or 128GB of internal memory, think about how much you'll actually use. Are you using your smartphone as an external hard drive for your computer by saving movies, music, files and heavy apps? If the answer is no, you're probably OK with 32 GB. Not to mention that you can take advantage of cloud services to save some space and still always have your files at hand, provided you have an internet connection. As a general rule, considering smartphones on the market, it is advisable to opt for at least 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory (32GB although, in my opinion, is the best compromise).

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Expandable memory or the cloud? / © Mediatek

7. Battery life

Battery life is one of the most important features to consider when choosing a new smartphone. Do not be fooled: a higher number of mAh does not amount to more and more battery life, or to a longer battery life cycle. The factors that come into play are different and it's worth knowing them.

For example, you should consider that screens with a higher resolution consume more energy, while the latest processors optimize battery life. Then there's Doze mode and quick charging technology. Rather than just looking at tech specs, it's best to check out reviews and benchmark results to know how all these factors perform when combines in a single device. At the moment, 3,000 mAh seems to be the standard.

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Don't forget about the battery. / © Mediatek

8. Camera

Smartphone manufacturers are starting to pay more attention to camera quality and features lately, and that's a great thing for users. Number of megapixels, hybrid auto focus, optical stabilization, manual modes, special effects and special selfie features: smartphones are becoming more and more like a digital camera. 

Once again, I recommend you not to dwell too much on the numbers showing on the technical sheet. The MP does not tell the whole story and it is important to get an idea of the type of integrated sensor, lens quality and pixel size. You'll find all the details specified in our reviews, but once you're in the store it will cost you nothing to start the camera app and check the brightness of the shots and software features for yourself.

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Megapixels aren't everything. / © AndroidPIT

9. Software and integrated functions

Do you need a phone that can do absolutely everything? Are you one of those people who needs a built-in fingerprint sensor, heart rate monitor, UV sensor, Swiss Army knife and a batmobile? You have a wide range of choices here, from the latest top of the line to mid-range smartphone you will find all the latest hardware innovations.

But don't limit yourself to choose a smartphone based on the hardware features. Activate the display and explore the software in-depth to find out what hidden features are there and if it provides options that work for you. Often share the device with your children? Ensure you have a guest mode or parental control. You like reading ebooks directly on Android? Select an interface that allows you to adjust the hue of the display and that implements some anti-strain eye protection. In short, do not stop at appearances and thoroughly investigate the system. 

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Navigate between the features of each device. / © AndroidPIT

10. Price

Last on our list, but probably the first factor to consider if you have a limited budget, it is definitely the price. What do you want to spend on your next smartphone? Is it worth it to use all your salary or is it perhaps appropriate to limit yourself and choose something cheaper but equally powerful and in step with the times? The choice is yours, but be aware that for any price range there are some devices better than others. 

So, what do you look for in a smartphone? Are there any features that can be a deal maker or breaker when it comes to selecting a new smartphone? Let us know in the comments below. 

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  • I recently bought an galaxy s7 edge and i had the same dillema.After years of being an Nexus user i went to samsung because i got tired of being a beta tester for google. Crashes,bootlops, freezeups and whatnot all happend on Nexus 5X. Sammy you finnaly got me.

  • EBay or Amazon offer that many affordable phones that some people just buy because of the price of the phone,but before I chose to buy any phone,I look Amazon reviews or checkout videos of any phone on you tube which is sometime very helpful when chosing a phone or how set up any thing your struggling to solve on any phone,with Samsung removing the F.M Radio on there Top End phones I wanted alternative phone with the Radio inside it and with Chinese phones offering Dual sim plus the micro sd card slot,I purchased a Cubot X12 of EBay, which also good as it's got removable battery as well for £50,which I find very reliable,so budgets can sometimes be worth buying

  • joost 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    Very interesting article !
    It might be a little bit more detailed in the list of extra functions:
    Dual SIM
    NFC
    USB-ports
    Weather-our water-proof
    ...
    And some thoughts about where to buy (China, Amazon local retail shop...)
    ...

  • This is a superficial article. Rather, you need separate articles on specific topics. I suggest the following :
    1. The difference between AMOLED and LCD screens.
    2. The uses of a stylus, vis-a-vis the Samsung Note series. That is, should I choose a mobile phone with a stylus?
    3. Whether buying a phablet is better than buying a tablet as a second mobile device?
    4. Is the laptop gradually being phased out by mobile phones?
    5. How processors matter and an explanation of the different manufacturers and types.
    6. How to select a good phone camera.

  • taher 3 weeks ago Link to comment

    nice post!

  • With that many difference type of phones available,it can be hard for consumers to pick the correct one that suits them,but there is one thing that really determines there choice is the Pricing of the phone they chose,and with phones getting more expensive its getting harder to chose the correct one,those who sign up to contracts do not realise that contracts are now over 18 months so could end up paying more than they should be,the critics get a Samsung releasing to many phones but all they are trying to do is please different age groups which is right thing to make there name more popular with consumers

    • Loie Favre
      • Admin
      • Staff
      3 weeks ago Link to comment

      You're right, buying a smartphone upfront as opposed to monthly payments in most of the time a lot cheaper, but many people just can't afford expensive phones, such as the ones from Samsung upfront. Phones like the Moto G5 and the OnePlus 3T though on the other hand may be more manageable, seeing as they are much less expansive.

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