Smartphone Buying Guide-Find the Phone that suits your needs

Finding the right smartphone for your need is now a bit tricky as the market is flooded with tons of phones offering a handful of features.

Operating System

This is the first thing you want to decide first before going to buy a smartphone. There are different Mobile operating system (OS) available. Android,IOS,Windows Phone,Tizen,Ubuntu touch are some of them. Out of this IOS, Android and Windows mobile are more popular. If you want a smile, easy to use OS, go for Apple’s IOS. If you want more customization, tons of apps and a lot of hardware choices, go for Android. If you are Windows addict, go for Windows based mobile phones. Here is a look at graphical user interface of various OS, the first one is Apple’s IOS, second one Blackberry Os (discontinued), Windows mobile next and the last Android OS in a Lenovo Vibe handset. Apple’s IOS is available only in Apple’s iPhone handsets. Android is open source, file transfer is easier than IOS, using usb port and file transfer app, or can transfer directly without any app by simply connecting through USB cable and select ‘transfer files’. While in IOS we need iTunes desktop app (downloadable) to transfer files. Photos can be transferred via USB with out apps. IOS ready Phones only available in iPhones. Android OS base handset manufacturers are Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, Vivo, Oppo,Sony,etc. Apple app store contains 1,000,000+ apps, while Google Play store contains 1,000,000+ apps. The latest version of Android is Android 7.1.2 (Nougat).  The latest version of IOS is 10.3.1. You can upgrade to the latest version of the OS as it release on most handsets. Before buying check is it up-gradable to the latest version or not. This is essential as most of the app stop working after a few years on old versions of the OS. To keep your favorite app alive you must upgrade your OS to the latest. In the security point of view using latest version of OS is always better.

Processor and Graphics

When comes to handling tasks and performing various tasks or when playing graphics rich games, the processors have a vital role in performance. There are several manufacturers producing different processors in different names. Samsung and Apple has it’s own processor to use on their devices, Samsung Exynos range and Apple’s A10 series. Other Mobile manufacturers using processors provided by Qualcomm (Snapdragon series, 835,821,600 series chips), MedaiTek (Helios processors), etc. Snapdragon 615 is a high performance, low priced chipset intended for midrange phones, MediaTek MT6752 is also intended for mid range phones.

Now about graphics, which is essential for high end gaming, video editing and Ultra HD video viewing applications. Mediatek processors using Mali graphics (a third party graphics vendor), While Snapdragon using there own Adreno graphics. Intel using their own iris graphics in their chipset. For example, Micromax Unite 2 phone using Mediatek Processor, HTC Desire X  usingSnapdragon Processor, Asus Zenphone C using Intel Atom Processor.

MediaTek  and snapdragon processor’s are Soc’s means ‘Systems on chip’ which include CPU,wifi,LTE,gps,bluetooth,sensors and much more.  Samsung Exynos, Apple Cortex , Qualcomm Snapdragon, Mediatek Helios, everybody uses ARM processor. ARM is a CPU architecture with simplified RISC instruction set.  Intel has its own patented x86 instruction set but not good enough for low power device like mobiles, but they are trying their luck with Silvermont architecture with Intel Atom range processors. ARM is the market leader because of it’s low power consumption and simplified instruction set architecture. Snapdragon processor has different series, 200, 400,600 and 800 series. Intel has Atom X3 ‘SoFIA’ mobile chipset. The Taiwanese chipset manufacturer MediaTek has also different series, MT657x series for dual-cores, MT673x series for quad-cores, MT675x & MT679x series for octa-cores & deca-cores. HiSilicon has Kirin range 9xx processor (ARM based high-end octa-core SoC for smartphones and tablet). They have Kirin 650, 655, 658; ?Kirin 910 and 910T ; ?Kirin 920, 925 and 928 Kirin 930 and 935 processors.

You can test smart phone’s performance using three most popular bench marking apps AnTuTu, Quadrant Standard and Geekbench, which is available on Google Playstore as apps.

RAM is critical for multitasking a 1GB RAM is satisfactory, 2GB RAM is sufficent, 4GB RAM or above is good for flawless gaming and multitasking.

Display

When talking about display a 4K display is better but it simply drains battery. A HD display is now the minimum standard. AMOLED screens are better than LCD. Pay attention to screen size which is measured in diagonal, varies from 4 inch to 7 inch. Check the resolution with the size of the screen, the number of pixels in the screen and pixel densely showing how pixels are packed. Normally Pixel density referred as Pixels Per Inch (ppi). The resolution true 4k means 4096 x 2160; 4K Ultra HD means 3840 x 2160; 2K means 2560 x 1440; Full HD/FHD/1080p means 1920 x 1080; and HD (High Definition) means 1280 x 720. A 5 inch screen usually has a pixel density 440ppi, a 5.5 inch screen has 400ppi, a 4.7 inch screen has 312ppi. the better the pixel density, the better the picture. Now let’s talk about display panel type, LCD, OLED, AMOLED, Super AMOLED, TFT, IPS are some of them. LCD means Liquid Crystal Display perform well in direct sunlight, the displays are illuminated from the background. TFT stands for Thin Film Transistor which is an advanced generation of LCD dispaly, which is popular for increased contrast and less production cost than LCD. IPS means In-Plane Switching which is again an advanced version of TFT LCD display. OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, which uses self illuminating electroluminescent materials, so it won’t requires any back light. AMOLED means Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode having fast refresh rates, but not good in direct sunlight when comparing to LCD. AMOLED screen have future because it can made thinner than LCD and can be made flexible display. Super AMOLED displays are improved version of AMOLED display having better viewing in sunlight and also uses less power. Retina display is a marketing term used by iPhone’s. iPhone 6 Plus have a Full HD display with a pixel density of 401 ppi while iPhone 7 and 7 Plus having 326 ppi and 401 ppi respectively. New display technology will revolutionize the look and feel of the smartphones, out of these innovations flexible display is a promising one.

Screen size of 4.7 inch is better for pockets, 5 inch better for pocket and viewing, 5.5 inch to 6.7 inch are good for reading and viewing. Latest phones have super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors having 1440 x 2960 pixels at 570 ppi pixel density.

Performance and Battery Life

Smart Phone can do several tasks like view HD videos, play games, edit or create documents, edit videos, edit images and much more. AnTuTu (Higher is better); GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen (Higher is better) GFXBench Manhattan on-screen (Higher is better); Vellamo Metal (Higher is better); Basemark OS II (Higher is better); JetStream (Higher is better); Geekbench 4 single-core (Higher is better); Geekbench 4 multi-core (Higher is better).

Talking about battery life, smart phone with long lasting battery and fast charging is ideal for travel and for continuous usage. When you are using 4G data, playing games, viewing cinemas, your smart phone battery will drain easily. A 3000 mAh battery is sufficient for a day long usage, a 5000 mAh battery with fast charging is ideal for long usage. A 4,000 mAh battery on heavy use will last about six hours or so on a single charge. Quick charging technology employs technique by increasing the upper charge limit of voltage that can flow in to a battery. Each company have there own technology like One Plus’s Dash charge, Motorola’s Turbo charger are some examples.Your smart phone will charge quickly if you use the company specific quick charger.

Camera and Video

Once the camera and video’s in camera has not much important as it cannot compete with the photos obtained from a digital camera. Things have a lot changed now as  Mobile phone cameras overcome the basic digital cameras. Now no one use a basic digital camera to shoot pictures, instead most of them carry a good quality mobile to take pictures. In smart phones there are two cameras Primary Camera and Secondary Camera.  Primary Camera is the rear camera having more mega pixel sensor and having more features. Secondary Camera is the front camera primarily for taking selfies. Now most mobile phones having a Primary camera with at least 12 MP sensor and  a 5 MP Front Selfie camera as secondary camera. If taking photos are important to you get a phone with better picture quality, color accuracy, clarity and contrast. Some phones have superior performance both in daylight and low light. You can test camera performance by testing it in bright, indoor and low-light conditions. some phones support optical zooms ( normally represent as, 2.3x optical zoom). Look for aperture also, the aperture measure the diameter of a circle that the light enters, say a change from ƒ/2.4 to ƒ/1.8, will double the area of the opening and thus the amount of light enters. Let’s compare some of the high end phones, Apple iphone 7 has a 12MP camera of sensor size 1/3″ and pixel size 1.22?m, aperture is f/1.8, producing a resolution of 4032×3024. While the Samsung Galaxy S8 has a 12MP camera of sensor size 1/2.6″ and pixel size 1.4?m, aperture is f/1.7, producing a resolution of 4032×3024. The best way is compare the picture’s taken by the camera that you decided to buy with another one, check all conditions like bright, ow light, night, etc. You can get thousands of pictures online taken from popular mobile phones, compare it to find the camera quality.

When capturing videos, look for optical Image Stabilization, or OIS, is hardware that helps reduce camera shake. OIS helps to get good quality videos even when walking. Now most phone cameras ca nshoot FHD videos, some can shoot 4K videos too.

Storage-Internal and External

In these days 16GB is not enough to store all your data, look for 32GB or 64GB of inbuilt storage. You can expand the storage capacity by using Micro SD card, check the naximun size of Micro SD card supported by your camera, higher the better. As of now 128GB capacity offered by most of the manufactures is enough for your needs. Latest phones support 256GB micro SD cards.

Connectivity

Now most phones equpped with dual 4G Sim (dual standby) with VOLTE. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,GPS,NFC,USB,FM Radio are available in almost all phones. The Bluetooth and Wi-Fi versions will be upgraded to the latest in each new version of the phone. So grab the latest version, to get maximum features.

Sensors

Now most advanced smart phones are equipped with iris scanner, fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate and SpO2 sensor. You don’t have the all sensors, but it is better to have a fingerprint scanner to lock your mobile phone from unauthorized access. The heart rate and SpO2 and iris scanner are new addition. It is currently available at high end smartphones. Other sensors are available at almost all phones available on the market.

Verdict

Buying a smart phone purely depends on your needs. First decide the smartphone OS and smartphone manufacturer that you need. Are you happy with more secure and stable IOS, or want Android with tons of apps, or just need a basic phone for elderly people. Do you need a phone with a long battery backup, or fast charging or wireless charging. There are tons of smart phone models available from different manufacturer. Consider the availability of servicing centers and customer support in case of a hardware or software failure, which are common in case of smartphones.