Quick guide to buying your next smartphone
YOU GOT TECH - Abe Olandres (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2015 - 10:00am

We hope this quick guide will help you decide smarter when you buy your next smartphone.

1) Start with a budget. The easiest and fastest way to narrow down your choices for a new smartphone is to set a hard budget. Your budget must be reasonable and readily available.

Once you have done so, everything else will fall in place and you’d be able make a well-informed decision.

2) Do a survey of what is available. With your budget, make a list of all the smartphone brands you trust or of interest and pick specific models that fit into your budget. Resist the urge to change your budget if some of smartphones did not make the cut.

Make sure the ones on your list have been released or are officially available locally so you get the advantage of the manufacturer’s warranty.

Take note that gray market units do not offer the official warranty so if the device turned out to have any defects, you can’t have them replaced and the only help you will get is a service warranty to make the necessary repairs.

3) Add filters to the list. In order to narrow down the list even further, add several filters based on features you need or have priority over others.

These filters will include operating system (iOS, Android, Windows Phone), display size, build materials (glass, plastic, metal) and battery capacity.

Operating System. This should be on top of your priority list. If you picked iOS, the list drops to just two or three generations of iPhones and whichever model fits the budget wins. The choices for Windows Phone  are very slim so you won’t have a problem narrowing down the list to around two or three models. However, if you chose Android, then it gets more interesting since there will be a lot of candidates running in that platform.

Display Size. While each person has their personal preference, the typical display size would be between five inches to 5.5 inches. You should be fine at around those sizes but also take into consideration the screen resolution of the display —  a 720p (720x1280 pixel) resolution is decent but full HD 1080p (1080x1920 pixel) should be the ideal. A quad HD (2560x1440 pixels) resolution is a luxury and, frankly,  a bit overkill. Bear in mind that screen resolution can affect the performance of the phone.

Internal Hardware. The performance of your smartphone is determined by the internal hardware like processor and amount of RAM. A quad-core processor should be generally good enough especially when you pair it with at least 2GB of RAM. Take note that different operating systems have different hardware requirements in order to perform well. Android is the more resource intensive followed by Windows Phone and iOS. 

 Storage. With the smartphone becoming a convergent device, it also means that you will need a lot of storage to aggregate all your files. Depending on your usage behavior, 16GB should be the minimum with 32GB being the ideal. If you budget can still afford it, go for the 64GB or 128GB variant.

Fortunately, most smartphones have a microSD card slot that will allow you to add extra storage capacity when you’ll need it later on.

Battery Life. Crucial to your decision should also be battery life of the smartphone. What good is a nice-looking, highly-performing flagship smartphone if battery does not even last you half a day?

As a rule of thumb, the bigger the battery the better the battery life (not always true but it’s a general trend) so look for something in the range of 3,000mAh or higher. It is also good if the battery is user-replaceable.

Camera. A lot of smartphone users actually place the camera performance and image quality as their primary factor in making the selection. Good news is that a huge majority of smartphones now record good photos and videos with a few really exceptional ones.

 Connectivity. With WiFi and Bluetooth being a staple connectivity feature, perhaps the more significant aspect would be the LTE-capability of the handset. NFC, Miracast, DLNA are nice to have but we don’t think they’re that important.

4) Apply your vanity features. By this step, you have probably selected the smartphone that fits your budget which has all the necessary features you’ll need.

If not, then this is the time to apply vanity features to the remaining contenders. This is like the clincher questions — is it waterproof (IP68 Rating), does it also have a good selfie camera, an IR blaster for use a remote control of your appliances or dual-SIM capabilities.

That’s it! We hope this quick guide will help you decide smarter when you buy your next smartphone.


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