by March 2, 2012 0 comments



Smartphones today are available at just about every price point with a host of features. We give our recommendations on how to choose the right one for your needs.


Operating System

The mobile phone is wedded to the OS and these days, a choice of a handset does depend on the OS being used on it. Apple uses the iOS on its devices, BlackBerry uses the BB OS. Android OS, owned by Google, is open source by nature and is used by aplenty phone manufacturers. There would be a couple of other proprietary OSes doing the rounds but it is advisable to stick to the tried and the tested. Speaking of OS, it does make a lot of sense to buy a device with the latest OS or at least the one which promises an upgrade. Upgrades to mobile phone OS improve the performance and battery life apart from bringing schematic changes on to the table. The look and feel upgrades of the newer OS is many a times based upon experiences and feedback from the user community.

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App Market

Your smartphone is as good as the app store which it has access to. But the App store is native to the OS. The Apple AppStore is the biggest of all (with over 5 lakh apps for iPhone/iPod Touch and 1,40,000 specifically for iPad) followed by the Android marketplace sitting with 4 lakh apps for phones). Certain social networking, productivity and games are available across all platforms. The app stores have apps which are free as well as paid. There are many apps which come for free but have to be purchased to use advanced set of features.


Email

Android phones integrate with Gmail services in real-time, so any changes you make to your Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Contact items are synced with the Google cloud. As a result, you have up-to-date information on both mobile and desktop. Google provides a similar functionality for BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Symbian devices through the free Google Sync service. The iPhone supports Gmail, POP3/IMAP accounts, push Yahoo email, and the Exchange connectivity. Apple’s $99 a year MobileMe service gives you personal push email, contacts, and calendars on Apple’s servers, in addition to web galleries, online storage, remote wipe, location of your stolen device, etc. BlackBerry uses RIM’s proprietary and secure email solution and is considered the most reliable email machine for both business and personal email.


Keyboard

The choice really depends on the user and his level of comfort. The options range from a physical keyboard to a virtual touch keyboard and a combination of both in some cases. For text heavy usage patterns, one should go for a model which gives physical keyboard options. BlackBerry devices amongst others have a physical keyboard and will suit such a use case. However, even RIM now have touch based devices in their kitty with the Torch series of phones. It is important to note that the touch devices with the virtual keyboard are not that difficult to adapt to.





Hardware specs

Mobile smartphones have become computing beasts in their own rights. There is no dearth of phones in the market with increasingly good hardware specifications. One GHz processors and 512 MB RAM would be good enough to serve all practical purposes on a smartphone. Anything over and above should satiate luxurious demands like better graphics for a game, etc. There have been instances like in case of the Motorola Atrix wherein the manufacturers have fiddled with the concept of harnessing the compute capabilities of the smartphone to power a lapdock. These instances have been few and far between and havn’t really impressed the masses much. But more such innovations could be the thing of the future and having a phone capable enough is never a bad thing. It is important to note that manufacturers like the Apple integrate the OS much better than the others. Therefore, the iOS is able to fully utilize the capability of the hardware, much better than some of the Android OS based counterparts.


Camera

Clicking pictures on the move or without the use of a separate camera is one of the use cases which has emerged. The user does want a better quality camera with more pixels so as to take better pictures. A minimum of 2 MP going upto 8MP is available on most devices. One should go for a phone with 5MP camera to really be satisfied with the clicks. More modes, HD recording, etc are just some of the features which have come to steam roll the digicam industry. Optical zoom is probably the next step which could spell doom for them. Nokia N8 is widely accepted as the phone with the best in class camera out there. The front facing camera used to be VGA but now even that is being improved. 3G video calls have really brought a use case for the improvement in the quality of the front cam. IP based calls through Skype have also pressed the need for a good front cam. VGA cams are a thing of the past and about a 2MP front cam should be good enough to provide clarity of image for video calls.


Storage

Internal storage on the phone is going up all the time. With the capabilities and functionaly on the phone, there is an increase in the pressing need for space to store all that content. A minimum of 2GB and a recommended 8 GB is what one could go for. The internal memory on these phones could be supplemented using micro-SD cards at an investment of 100Rs/GB. Only a small portion of phones lack any kind of external storage in favour of built-in storage, like the iPhone and some high-end Nokia devices. Thus one must over calculate their storage requirement to avoid any storage issues later.


Battery

Touchscreen phones have a typical battery backup of about a day keeping the regular usage in mind. There could be ways and means of extending this but that’s where the world is right now. Typically a 1500 mAh battery would be the norm but anything over that is a boon. Battery packs from third party vendors such as Mugen are also available which come at a price point but ensure that you don’t run out of juice at those critical moments.


LCD / Touch Screen

A bigger screen aids more that can be done on the phone. Browsing, Email, games and other productivity related work best on a bigger screen rather than a smaller one. Capacitive touchscreens are definately the type to go for. Multi touch is something which is a good add on as it provides a user options like pinch to zoom, etc which are definitely handy. OLEDs and AMOLEDs have seen the light of the day and are good options to go for. But for a basic user, a screen with more colours and a bigger screen size would definitely be of more use. However, the user also needs to understand that a bigger screen means operation is not really possible with a single hand and the user would require two hands to operate the device.


Price

Last but certainly not the least; one does not want to pay heavy for his purchases especially in the corporate environment. Price band of 15k-20k is the one which has some of the best handsets from Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, etc. Apart from the smartphone itself, certain accessories like a screen guard, micro SD card, case/ cover would also be required by the user and might not be provided in the box as a free add-on. These would cost extra and should be accounted for while making the purchase.

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