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Smartphone buying guide: How to choose Smartphone

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

Why bother to choose instead of buy any smartphone? Smartphone makes our life easier, not only by making us able to communicate with others, but also in many other ways. As smartphones are one of the most anticipated products in the electronics market, there is a very high competition between the vendors.

The result of this competition is that thousands of smartphones are available to choose from. There are so many smartphones from so many brands available that it makes it very confusing to choose the right one for us.

So how to choose a smartphone, more importantly, how to choose the RIGHT smartphone to fulfill our needs?

It’s a very hard question to answer; no one can answer this question in very short note. There are so many factors, the number of cores in the processor, the number of pixels in display, how many megapixels the camera is, 3g 4g or LTE network support, Androids Windows Phones or iPhone and so on.


Normal people are sure to be confused by so many specification terms and numbers. It is obvious that to choose the best one from the crowd of smartphones is a very hard task. But it can be done if we keep attention on some key factors.

There are so many good phones in the market from many reliable brands, so why bother to do all the hard works to choose the right smartphone? Well because not all of the smartphones are built for everyone.

Smartphones aren’t cheap, so no one would one to buy an expensive device and later discover that that particular device isn’t well suited for him/her. No one would want to pay for the minuets the data, which is of no use for that person.

Screen size, contract, carrier, operating system, multitasking performance, camera quality this are some very essential factors that need to considered before choosing a smartphone.

A little research of these things before choosing the smartphone is very smart thing to do.

Do you really need a smartphone?

The most important thing to decide before someone start to choose a smartphone is to whether he need a smartphone or not. This may sound ridiculous to some of us but it is very important to be sure about it.

Smartphones aren’t cheap, and the coverage plan or contract rate is also expensive. Even if there is no need of data, you may have to pay for a data plan. So before getting one, you need to think the importance of a smartphone in your life.

You may have all of the modern technology devices already with you, for example the PSP for gaming, music player for music on the go, digital camera for taking picture etc. In that case you may only need a device to talk with others.

Again, you may be a social person. You may want to keep yourself updated with latest tweets or posts from Facebook, emails from work, communicating, and texting on the go. Because of these a smartphone may be very important device to you. Smartphone also help to pass time when you are stuck at a public place.

But the main usefulness of a smartphone is you get all of these modern technologies packed in just one device. A smartphone means gaming, camera, GPS, and music, communicating with others, social networking; all of these features in only a single device with awesome portability.

As it is very useful device, it’s really very easy to decide whether to get one or not. Do you really need a smartphone? Of course, everyone needs smartphone.

An important step: choose your carrier carefully

One of the most important things to choose before getting a smartphone is the carrier. Selecting the right carrier is very important. There are some major factors of carrier you need to checkout to select the right carrier for yourself.

There are different types of carrier available everywhere. Different carrier means different options, different price plans, different network types, they also varies in the Internet speed. So you need to be very careful to choose the best carrier for yourself.

There are some different ways to pay for your mobile carrier plan, for example, postpaid plan with contracts, postpaid plan without contracts, prepaid plans etc. Most of the major carriers offers postpaid plan with contracts, in this method you can get the latest smartphones with discounted rates.

But in contract you are stuck with your carrier for a specific period for example 2 years in most of the cases. So you have to use the phone with the carrier for that time in the contract. You may also cancel the contract, but in that case you have pay big bucks.

Some carriers offer no contract monthly plan. In that case you have to pay for your smartphone but good thing is you are not locked with a long time contract.

Many carriers also offer prepaid plans for your smartphone; in that case you can buy the minutes you want to use. This is useful for them who don’t use their smartphone too much.

The price for minutes and data, or the monthly contract charge is also a very important thing to consider. Different carriers offer different price plans, you should choose the most appropriate price plan according to your requirements.

Network coverage is another important factor to checkout to select the appropriate carrier. Some carrier offers smaller map, some other offers nation wide coverage. The network quality in covered area is also different. Most of the time the smallest covered carrier provides cheaper price plan and sometime better network quality.

So, if you are staying most of the time around your city, you may find small map carriers useful. On the other hand for someone who always travels, larger map carrier is useful. The coverage map doesn’t show the area with bad network quality, so it is useful to ask about relatives or friends about the coverage in their area.

Some carriers uses GSM network system, some uses CDMA. The GSM network is global, so it is supported all over the world. The CDMA is supported in only handful of about 40 countries.

Internet speed is another big factor of smartphone carrier. Smartphone without high speed Internet is not very useful; most of the tasks we perform on our smartphone are based on Internet. So it is very important to check out the network of different carrier, whether they are high speed 4g LTE network, or 3g networks, or the old generation 2g networks.

Some of the 4g-supported network actually gives Internet speed very close to 3g-network speed. These factors should be checked out based on individuals demand.

The ultimate question: Android, iOS or Windows Phone?

Operating System

Choosing the right smartphone also depends largely on selecting the right Operating System for you. As there are numbers of smartphone operating system available in the smartphone market, few of them are very popular.

As a result, the most popular iOS by Apple and Android by Google holds more than 90% of the worldwide smartphone market. The windows mobile phone platform is rather new in the market; many people are fond of windows phones also. The Blackberry, Symbian, Badda OS, Firefox OS, Sailfish OS are not so popular this days and some of this Operating Systems are discontinued by the manufacturers.

So which one is the most suitable for you?

Android from Google

The most popular smartphone OS of this time is certainly the Android by Google; it’s an open source operating system for mobile and tablet platform. Now a days thousands of devices run by this operating system.

Most of the major handset manufacturers like HTC, Samsung, Sony, Motorola and many more brands use this OS in their latest smartphones.

Android is popular for its highly customizable user friendly UI with large numbers of supported hardware. Large number of high-end hardware like 1080p Screen, 4g LTE network component, multi core processors etc. are supported by android operating system.

That’s why manufacturers are able to produce devices of wide range under android operating system. You can get android smartphones of low, medium or high range depending on your budget. There are higher-end flagship phones like HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4, Motorola Moto X, and Sony Xperia Z, or lower-end devices like Sony Xperia Tipo, HTC Desire V, and Samsung Galaxy Young etc.

So there are lots of smartphones of every range to choose from, manufactured by very well known brands. As android is open source operating system, manufacturers customize the user interface, appearance, functionality of their smartphones.

So it is not possible for the manufacturers to push the latest update of android OS developed by Google to immediately after release. That’s why getting the latest android OS from manufacturers takes some time, even a long time in some case.

Google also offers some Google Play Edition smartphone of the most popular models, which contains stock android from Google with no customization whatsoever and gets latest android update immediately after release.

The latest version of Android OS is the Android 4.4 KITKAT, its been quite some time this version was released, but only very few latest smartphones run this latest version of Android. Android app store is known as Google Play Store, which is maintained by Google and contains a large number of contents, more than any other appstore.

Google Play Store contains literally hundreds of thousands app for android operating system, almost every type of you may be searching for. For android device owners, there is also another option of using custom mod Android OS on their device but of course this requires some advance knowledge. So depending on your demands you should choose whether you would go with an Android smartphone or not. The huge number of android running device really makes it easy for you to find the device that fits for you.

iOS from Apple

Another most popular smartphone operating system is the iOS used by the iPhone, all time favorite smartphone from Apple. In some case the iOS is completely different from Android. There are some apps that are only available for iOS platform, mostly small company product apps aimed for iOS only because of its mass popularity.

Unlike Android, iOS is only available on iPhone and Apple has been keeping it this way for years. Apple is also very strict about the customization of their iOS; as a result this OS is not very much customizable. But this also makes iOS very neat, clean, simple and elegant looking interface.

The latest version is iOS 7, which is a lot more different than its previous version with a flat looking interface. As iOS is closed source OS, it is much more secure and Apple always motivates their customer to use the latest version of the OS. As a result, just after few months the latest version was released, it already covers the 78% of the active iOS devices. The iOS Appstore is one of the main advantages of iOS; it contains the largest numbers of apps.

The appstore is strictly maintained and verified by Apple, so most of the apps are useful and safe to use. iOS device file transfer from computers relies on iTunes. Another great advantage of this OS is there are hundreds of thousands of accessories available for iPhone devices. Lots of useful accessories like different types of covers, camera lenses, physical keyboards are available which makes this devices very handy.

But it lacks in built-in Wireless charging, while some other major brands are offering wireless charging option in limited numbers of smartphones. But if you want a simple, elegant user interface with lots of third party apps and good quality built device, iPhone is the best choice. As iPhone is the only device that is running iOS, you don’t have lots of options to choose from, just few option like the iPhone 4S, 5s, 5c are available.

Windows Phone from Microsoft

Windows Phone is the mobile operating system released by Microsoft, as this is a newer platform for smartphones, the Windows Phone OS stands far behind Android and iOS. Windows Phone OS is not like the other two popular OS; instead it is based on Live Tiles just like Windows 8 Desktop interface.

Those who are huge fan of Microsoft Windows can check the windows phone smartphones. The latest version of windows phone platform is Windows Phone 8 Update 3, which is much better than its previous versions.

As a newer platform, much less number of devices from Nokia, Samsung and HTC run on Windows Phone OS. The Finnish company Nokia produces the largest number of Windows Phone running smartphone branded as the Lumia series. Lumia series now contains many windows phone running smartphones. Windows phone 8 rejected the typical grid icon based smartphone interface and it is built on a flat looking tile-based user interface, which makes it superior from other OS.

The applications info can be directly showed into its live tiles without even opening the apps, it’s a really cool feature. The number of third party applications on windows phone app store is much less then Android or iOS, but as there are lots of windows app developer, the number of apps on this platform is also rapidly increasing.

The most recent version of Windows Phone lacks some pretty important feature for example the notifications center, but the good news is the next version of this OS the Windows Phone 8.1 will contain certain improvements such as the Notification center, VPN. So if you are fan of Microsoft Windows, or you want something rather than typical smartphone, Windows Phone running smartphone can be pretty good option.

Get the right screen: The bigger isn’t always the better

The screen of smartphone is pretty important thing to check. It may not look very important, or some may think the bigger is the better but its not that way. The screen size determines the over all size of your phone.

The bigger the screen of your smartphone, the more juice it will drain from your battery. Also bigger screen size means bigger smartphone size, which makes it tough to hold and operate your smartphone in one hand.

There are plenty of smartphone screen size options, from around 3.7 inches to 6 inches phablets, so you have to choose very carefully. If you smartphone is mainly for gaming and entertainment purpose, bigger screen is very important.

But if you don’t need a bigger screen, or you may want to be able to operate your phone with just one hand, you will need a screen not too big to hold in one hand. So you have to look into this matter.

The screen resolution or DPI or PPI sets the quality of image produced on your phone, the more pixels means the smoother image. There are few different resolutions available to choose from, like full HD 1080p (1920×1080), QHD, 720p (1280×720), WXGA. You should choose according to your budget, the more pixels are the better. The material of smartphone screen is also important thing, for example, the IPS LCD screen, the AMOLED screen, the TFT LCD screen. AMOLED screen gives better color output, but the IPS LCD screen is brighter, which makes it good for use in outdoor light.

The glasses used on the screen are also different types, for example normal glass, scratch resistance glass, Gorilla glass. Gorilla glasses are stronger and it takes no scratches which very good feature. However there are always screen protectors available for use, so you can choose the smartphone with normal glass too which is less expensive.

These factors will help you to decide which smartphone will be good for you based on the screen properties.

Is there enough juice in the battery?


Battery is another important component that is worth checking out for. The more powerful smartphone is, the more powerful battery is needed.

One of the main disadvantages of smartphones is it need to be recharged too often, based on the type of use. More web browsing, more video, more games mean more battery drainage.

So it is very important that the battery power is looked into carefully before getting a smartphone. Normally the more mAh the battery, the more power it can preserve, but smartphone battery life not only depends on the quantity of mAh but also the components of the smartphone.

So a smartphone with lower mAh battery can provide longer battery life than a higher mAh battery smartphone.

The best way to check the battery life performance of different smartphone is reading the battery comparison tests between different smartphones, which can found over Internet.

The battery drainage test results on different smartphone can give the idea of battery performance of different devices.

The average battery life of smartphones is about 6-7 hours of full use. The more mAh battery you get, the more chance of getting batter battery life. Always check before buying smartphone, or you will end up buying low battery life smartphone.

Check out other specifications: the Processor, RAM, OS version etc.

To choose a smartphone, looking out the detailed specifications of different smartphones is also important. There are lots of websites that is providing detailed specifications of smartphones.

Checking out the hardware and software specifications before choosing one is a good step. Between lots of specification terms, some are worth checking out for. The quantity of RAM is very important, because speed of different tasks or fluent multitasking depends on the quantity of RAM in the smartphone.

Now a day there are smartphones of low range with ram of 512 MB to higher end with ram of 3 GB. If you have very low budget, you may go with small amount of RAM smartphone, but it is really bad idea for those who want fluent multitasking.

Low amount of RAM means the applications running in background will be closed automatically when new app is opened and device ran out of RAM, which is very annoying. Minimum 1 GB RAM is needed to have a decent multitasking experience.

The processor clock speed of smartphones is also very important, higher the clock speed, speedier the smartphone. The number core in processor also plays vital role in processing speed of smartphones, so the more number of cores means more speed. So the quad core smartphones are pretty good choice for speedy application processing.

The quantity of built in storage is also very important. There are some smartphones with expandable memory slot, and some smartphones are without this option. If you need a lot of memory for video, photos and apps you will be needed on your smartphone, you should choose one with expandable memory slot option, cause you can expand your storage memory up to 64 GB.

If you don’t need that much storage, smartphones with 16 GB or 32 GB storage options will be good enough. The version of OS is important, because in case of android, you may not be getting latest update from the manufacturers timely, so it is important to buy one which have already the latest version installed on it. Other extra features and peripherals that are present on the smartphones should also be checked, all of this information can be found over Internet.

Checking these factors and understanding your needs, you can choose smartphones that will fulfill your requirements.