Looking for a smartphone, but still have a few doubts? In this comprehensive smartphone buying guide, we provide the most commonly asked questions before buying a smartphone, and their answers.
Ideal Screen Size
Today smartphones having a bigger screen is a key trend, and yes it helps in all respects—whether playing games, watching videos, typing messages, video chats or using social sites. We can categorize the display size in three formats:
• Small Screen (Between 3 to 4.4 inches)
The main reason to love a small-screen smartphone is for its compact design. It is easy to carry in pocket and you won’t have to stretch your thumb to reach anything. Apple iPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy Star Pro, BlackBerry Z10 etc fall under this format.
• Medium Screen (4.5 to 5.4 Inches)
This has become the smartphone sweet spot, with devices such as the iPhone 6, HTC One M9, Galaxy S6, etc. Budget phones like Lenovo A6000 Plus, Redmi 2, Micromax Canvas Xpress 2 are also a part of this frame. Most phones are fairly comfortable to use with one hand in this category, depending on the button placement.
• Large Screen/Phablet (5.5 Inches or More)
Smartphones with display of 5.5 inches or more, such as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and LG G4, and the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4, are often called phablets because they are tablet-like in size. These are more likely to be used as two-handed devices, but there are lots of people who prefer larger displays for watching videos, reading eBooks and even running two apps side by side.
Right Screen Resolution—qHD, HD or Full HD?
The best way to judge a smartphone’s screen is to look at it from different viewing angles for changes in color, and also in varying lighting conditions to ensure visibility. Make sure that the smartphone you’re shopping for, has a display that’s bright enough so that it can be read under direct sunlight.
Buy a Full HD (1080p) display if you’re buying a device larger than five inches. On the other hand, HD (720p) screens work well for devices up to five inches in size. On smaller devices, load a web page to see if the text is crisp, and can be read without any strain to your eyes.
Super AMOLED screens are best when it comes to displaying vibrant colors. LCD screens with IPS technology come next, while we suggest to avoid TFT LCDs.
If you care about build quality and aesthetics, look for a unibody design, which you’ll find on the iPhone 6, Galaxy S6, Oppo R7 Lite or HTC One M9. The S6’s glass-and-metal design is particularly attractive, especially the S6 Edge with its dual curved display.
Besides the build quality and styling of the phone, one major issue is that the phone should fit in hand with a good grip so that slipping and dropping damage can be avoided.
Many phones such as Samsung Galaxy S6 Egde, Xolo Black etc have shiny slippery back while phones such as OnePlus 2, Intex Aqua Trend etc have rubberized and matte finish at the back which gives a good grip.
The standard plastic backs don’t feel as premium as the ones with metal looks. If you’re looking for a more personal design, check out the Moto X, which you can customize online with all sorts of colors and finishes, including wood. The Moto G,LG G4, OnePlus 2 offers back covers in different styles, including leather and wood, while the Oppo R7 Lite has the metallic finish that gives it’s a premium look.
We are now in that era of smartphone evolution that every user wants two-side cameras with good image quality. More and more smartphones have cameras with 8,12 or 16 megapixels, but don’t go by numbers alone. Instead, pay attention to image quality, aperture, speed and features.
So, if you’re looking for a good camera phone, don’t go blindly for the idea that more megapixels will give you better pictures. Instead, look for phones that boast of good camera optics. Remember, a high-resolution camera with a low-quality lens will only give you low-quality pictures in high resolution. For example, The iPhone 6 has an 8-MP sensor, but it captures relatively large pixels and accurate colors than smartphones with 16 MP camera.
You should be able to get a decent shot indoors without using the flash. A larger aperture allows for this. For instance, the Galaxy S6 has an f/1.9 aperture and the LG G4 is rated for f/1.8, while the iPhone 6 is f/2.2. A lower number means a larger aperture, which typically translates to better low-light performance.
As far as camera features, look for optical image stabilization to reduce blur and improve low-light performance. Smartphone makers are also paying more attention to front-camera quality, as evidenced by such models as the HTC Desire Eye.
Camera sensors for better low-light photography come with an LED flash. Nowadays smartphone comes with dual tone LED flashlight for good low light images, some smartphone have front LED flashlight.
Good photos are a result of adequate megapixels, good lens and sensor technology, as well as high-end processor chipsets. The smartphones like OnePlus 2,Nokia Lumia 1520, the Apple iPhones, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, LG G4, Honor 6 Plus, ZTE Nubia Z9 Mini, Sony Xperia Z3 and Xiaomi Mi 4i have a good camera.
How much RAM?
We have received many queries where users are ticked off by the slowness of the device. Particularly by operations, we mean the speed of opening an app. Having more RAM gives you freedom for switching between apps or frequently used app. More RAM results into better multitasking. All RAMs are not created equally. They all have their own speed in terms of the rate at which they can take in and take out data from other components such as CPU and Storage. The speed of RAM is measured in terms of MHz generally and they are classified as LP DDR1 < LP DDR2 < LP DDR3, etc. in order of their capabilities. Now a days smartphone manufacturers use DDR3 for enhanced performance.
Today we have phones with RAM ranging from 512 MB to 4 GB. The basic need of a smartphone having a plenty of RAM is to execute different apps or games properly without lagging in running or taking time to load. For instance, If you want to play heavy graphics intensive games like Asphalt 8 or Dead Trigger you should choose at least 2 GB of RAM for good performance. Some low budget smartphones with 1 GB RAM are also capable of running these games like Swipe Konnect Me. But there are exceptions in the rows, some of them have 2 GB RAM but are still not capable of giving lag free operations.
Moreover, a phone might have 2 GB or 4 GB of RAM, but for users the amount of RAM available is usually lesser as some part has been reserved for pre-loaded apps. There are other factors also to consider. For instance, smartphones running on Android OS need updates frequently on several apps or the OS. In such devices even 2GB RAM is less. Here Apple’s iOS is better because the OS update is not frequent.
Many smartphones have stock OS and have lots of preloaded apps which takes unnecessary memory allocations. So, users have limited space to choose for installing their favorite apps.
Role of CPU and GPU
If you are interested in heavy graphics oriented apps (games, HD video, etc), then you must take into consideration the GPU of the phone as well. Faster CPU results in speedier operations. A powerful CPU allows you to process data faster. This means faster app opening, faster web page loads, faster games, etc. More RAM, on the other hand, lets your phone handle more tasks at once. Which could be more tabs in a browser, multitasking, faster response from the phone apps and UI.
So you need a balanced smartphone with good amount of RAM and it should be equipped with a faster processor also. For Android devices, as the smartphone software part needs a frequent update, so we suggest the user to go for at least 2 GB of RAM and if your pocket allows better go for a 3 or 4 GB handset. For Apple’s iOS, 1 GB is sufficient as the phone updates once or twice a year. The configuration is good enough to give you lag free performance. For Windows OS, 1 GB is again sufficient as the OS does not update itself too often and is also light on system resources.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon series used to be the fastest, but now Samsung’s own octa-core Exynos 7420 chip (inside the Galaxy S6) has taken the lead. Among Qualcomm CPUs, the octa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 810 processor (inside the HTC One M9) is the top-of-the-line processor. Meanwhile, the six-core Snapdragon 808 chip (inside the G4) is almost as capable, though the 810 has better graphics.
Apple’s 64-bit, 20-nanometer A8 chip delivers smooth performance on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, enabling console-quality gaming (via Metal graphics). The A8 also comes with a new image-signal processor for better photos and videos. The Snapdragon 600 series powers mid range smartphones or entry-level handsets.
Suppose you have a phone with 4 GB of RAM and a dual core processor. You can’t expect it beat a phone in performance which has 2 GB of RAM and a quad-core processor. Even though you have large amounts of apps and app data ready to be processed, the slower CPU just can’t finish the task fast enough, so the slower CPU is the bottle neck here. So what’s the point of having large RAM when you are not experiencing such a level of performance improvement?
They both affect speed. Both of them need to be on the same level of performance, neither of them should be a bottle neck. So you need a Balance smartphone having good size of RAM and should equipped with a faster processor also.
For Android devices, as the smartphone software part needs a frequent update so we will suggest the user to go for at least 2 GB of RAM and If your pocket allows better to go for 3 or 4 GB handset. One other for selecting more RAM is that Android devices lags when the free space is less.
For Apple’s iOS, 1 GB is sufficient as the phone is updating once or twice a year. The configuration is tough enough to give you lag free performance even on less free memory available.
The sales of Android OS in smartphones dominates worldwide, and for good reason. Android offers a huge number of apps in its Google Play store. However, when a new version of Android arrives, it can take a while for the updated OS to hit your phone. You’ll find many more choices than iOS or Windows Phone when it comes to design, display size, specs, capabilities and price. Plus, Android is an open OS, which means it’s easy to customize with widgets, launchers, your choice of keyboard and more. Some Android-phone makers, such as Samsung and LG, trick out the software with additional enhancements, such as more-robust multitasking and easier access to settings.
With the latest version of Android, 5.0 Lollipop, the OS offers a slicker and more intuitive design, improved quick settings, and Priority Mode for showing the notifications only from people who matter most.
• iOS 8
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus run the latest version of Apple’s operating system, which offers all sorts of enhancements. You’ll find an improved Photos app, interactive notifications and the ability to swap out your keyboard. Plus, Family Sharing lets up to six people in your family share iTunes, books and app purchases.
The biggest reason to opt for an iOS device is its selection of apps. Apple’s App Store tends to get the hottest apps and games before Android, partly because developers have an easier time targeting a smaller set of devices that have similar specs. By the same token, iPhones enjoy the broadest array of accessories, because there’s less variation in design from one model to the next.
• Windows Phone
Windows Phone has never caught on, but the upcoming Windows 10 could change that. Developers should be able to easily port Android and iOS apps to the platform. Windows Phone offers some compelling features on its own, such as a dynamic Start screen and the Cortana digital assistant, but they haven’t been enough to sway shoppers.
The company formerly known as RIM has struggled to win over shoppers with BlackBerry 10. On the plus side, there’s a Hub that aggregates everything from email to social updates in one place. It’s also fairly easy to multitask on these phones, and you can get a physical keyboard from the BlackBerry Classic. However, the UI is not intuitive, and the app selection is pretty skimpy.
How much internal storage? And what about storage expand-ability?
Go for as much internal storage as possible. We have games that takes around a 1 GB or more of space like Asphalt 8 and Dead trigger 2 having 500 MB of space. Smartphone users wants to store several movies and photos in HD format which is of course good for viewing but takes a lot of memory allocations. So we highly recommend opting for as much internal storage as possible. The minimum on most handsets, like the iPhone 6, is 16GB, but more phones (such as the Galaxy S6) are coming standard with 32GB or OnePlus 2 with 64 GB.We recommend 16 GB or more.
A microSD card can help expand your storage. It’s available on phones such as the HTC One M9 and LG G4, ASUS Zenfone 2 Deluxe, but keep in mind that microSD can often store only a portion of apps. These cards are better for storing media. Flagship phones like Samsung Galaxy Edge, iPhones, OnePlus 2 don’t have microSD card slot.
Difference between budget, mid-range, and high-end smartphones
Pricing is the most important concern before buying a smartphone. All the features and good performance come with a price tag. Smartphones are divided on the basis of pricing and features:
• Budget smartphones (4k to 10k):
In this section the smartphone has basic functionality such as Calls,messaging, emails,camera,media player and with 512 MB to 2GB of RAM. The internal storage is up to 16GB. The segment users cant have a good choice of camera. Although exceptions like Lenovo K3 note, Yu Yureka plus is in the league.
• Mid-Range smartphones( Above 10k to 25k):
In this price bracket you have 2 GB, 3 GB or 4 GB capacity of RAM you can have. You will also get good internal storage of up to 64 GB. These phones have good processor and you can say some of them are better than flagship phones in features like OnePlus 2 has a better camera and processor.
• High-End smartphones (above 25k):
iPhones, HTC, Samsung Flagship phones rule here. Best camera, fast processor, loads of features like fingerprint scan, wireless charging, S-pen, Heat rate monitor and curved screen etc are present to enrich your experience of using smartphone.
Do you really need a 4G smartphone?
LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, which is the “new” generation of faster data connectivity for both GSM and CDMA technologies. Often referred to as 4G or 4G LTE, it’s the speediest data throughput you can get right now. LTE Advanced, a step beyond LTE gives data speeds still another boost, and is rolling out in bits and pieces. Now a days from Micromax to Apple many phones have 4G ready. Although we recommend 4 G ready phones but still 3G phones are not bad.
Why is Gorilla Glass protection needed?
Gorilla Glass is a name of special toughened glass developed and manufactured by Corning, which is made from alkali-aluminosilicate sheet glass. Now in its fourth generation, the glass is designed to be thin, light and damage-resistant. Gorilla Glass has already been embraced by nearly every major electronics maker in the industry; Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, and Microsoft all use it on their smartphones and tablets.
This type of glass is not unique to Corning, other companies that produce such glass are: Asahi, Dragontrail and Schott AG Xensation.
Why do you really need finger print scanning?
Apple popularized fingerprint scanning for unlocking the phone, but it’s made its way into other smartphones since. HTC ME, OnePlus 2 have it as well. Apple was the first to integrate fingerprint scanning with payment authentication, which is part of the feature known as Touch ID. On the iPhone 6 and above, Apple Pay will also use fingerprint scans for real-world payments.
The right battery capacity and backup time?
The higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last. You may have the best camera to capture images, solid hardware and software part, but if your phone is running out of battery, your handset is quite useless and it becomes a pain on your mind.
Bigger screens, extra cores, and more sensors mean greater power consumption. If you’re considering a smartphone over 4.5-inches in size, look at devices that come with at least a 2000mAh battery.
Removable batteries seem to be falling out of favor with most smartphone makers. But there are some benefits to this kind of design, found on the LG G4 and Galaxy Note 4. Once your existing battery stops holding a charge for as long as it did when it was fresh, you can just buy a new one without having to pay for a replacement service or a new phone.
If possible, select devices that come with lithium polymer batteries over lithium-ion . The former are lighter, and also retain their charge for longer. And buy a device that comes with a user-replaceable battery.
Battery capacity is another spec that can help determine a phone’s potential staying power, but be careful. In general, look for 2,600 mAh or more. Some examples include the Galaxy S5 (2,800 mAh) and Motorola Droid Turbo (3,900 mAh).