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Smartphone Buying Guide: Things To Know Before Buying A New Smartphone

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A comprehensive guide to consider before buying a smartphone. One needs to look for multiple aspects including battery capacity, camera performance, processor make, screen type, Storage and what not. All these things make up for the best performance and best-suited smartphone for all your needs.

By Yeti - 
13th Mar 2020
smartphone-buying-guide-cover-image

Highlights of the Story

  • Everything to consider before buying a new smartphone irrespective of the budget
  • Battery Capacity, Processor and Camera and the most important thing to look for before buying a smartphone
  • Budget smartphones are no less is performance, the only cost-cutting metric is the design and build quality

One of the hottest selling commodities in the market right now is arguably the smartphone that we use every day. It is because we use our smartphones every day to get things done and they have a relatively short life span of two to three years on average. Having said that, there are people who upgrade their phones every year too.

Now, if you are also in the market right now to buy a new smartphone then there are a few things to consider before buying a new smartphone. Obviously, this smartphone buying guide is meant for Android devices only since iPhone users only have the option to buy what Apple sells them.

As far as the buying guide is concerned, you need to look for some specific things in a smartphone such as its performance which depends on the processor, RAM, storage, as well as display and operating system. In this smartphone buying guide, you will see all the things that you need to take care of while buying a new phone for yourself:

Performance

When we talk about the performance of any smartphone, there are three components that play the most important role in that metric. These components are the processor that a smartphone is using as well as its RAM and storage used.

Processor

As far as processor, also known as SoC or chipset is concerned, you have a few options in the industry from manufacturers such as Qualcomm, MediaTek, Apple, and Samsung. However, it is worth noting that you will only find Apple’s chips on their iPhones and other iOS devices only.

smartphone-buying-guide-processor

If you are looking for the majority of Android phones, you will either find a Qualcomm processor or a MediaTek one. While Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips are said to be the best by many, MediaTek’s chips are not too far behind as well. 

Now, Qualcomm releases its chips every year in multiple series which range from Snapdragon 400, 600 and the flagship 800 series. Generally, you will find that Snapdragon 400 series powered devices will be suitable for light usage only. 

On the other hand, Snapdragon 600 series devices will be able all the tasks and you can do moderate gaming on them too. Coming to the flagship Snapdragon 800 series devices from Qualcomm, you will be able to throw anything to them and get the best performance.

MediaTek is known to release its processors in Helio P series which are meant for moderate usage and you can do light gaming on them as well. However, MediaTek has started to release their processors in the G series which are meant for gaming and provide comparable performance to Snapdragon 600 series chips. 

Having said that, MediaTek does not have any processor which can compete with Snapdragon 800 series chips so don’t expect to buy any flagships powered by MediaTek processors anytime soon.

When we talk about the performance of any smartphone, the GPU or graphics processing unit also matters. While you can’t have your own GPU as you can do on the PC, you can choose your GPU wisely. If you are buying a Qualcomm chip powered device, you will get Adreno GPUs whereas Samsung and Huawei use Mali GPUs in their chips.

RAM

smartphone-buying-guide-ram
Source: slashgear

Now that we have talked about the processor on a smartphone which is one of the main aspects of performance, we should not forget about the RAM as well. The general rule with RAM in a smartphone is that “more RAM is always better”. Because RAM or random access memory is used for multi-tasking and lower RAM will mean that lesser tasks can be handled at a time by the phone.

Nowadays, we see that 6 or 8GB RAM is the standard for all the Android smartphones and the new upcoming iPhones are said to also have 6GB RAM this year (2020). Therefore, you are good for the next 2-3 years if you buy any smartphone with 8GB RAM or more.

Storage

Regarding the storage on a device, we saw that there was an option to use external storage in earlier days of smartphones via a micro SD card. However, most of the smartphones now come with internal storage only which is due to faster read/write speeds as external storage is slower. 

But the fact that smartphones now come with internal storage means that you should buy a smartphone with enough storage. So if you are someone who downloads a lot of apps on your phone then you need to have a minimum of 128GB internal storage on your device. This is also keeping in mind all the photos and videos that you will take on the device which occupies the space as well.

Display

smartphone-buying-guide-display
Source: Gearbest

Next up, we also need to have a look at the display on the smartphone that we are buying. This is because the only thing that we will be looking at on our smartphone is its display. So it becomes important that we choose the display wisely.

Display Type

In typical smartphones, there are two types of panels used which are either LCD or AMOLED displays. Earlier, it was seen that LCD displays would be used as they were cheaper but LED panels are used nowadays as they are better for battery life and provide much more accurate colors including deeper blacks too.

So if you are buying a smartphone, make sure that it has an AMOLED display for the best quality viewing and it should help you in increasing the battery life too.

Also read: Best Smartphones With A 120Hz Refresh Rate Display

Display Size

Another thing you need to consider in a display is its size. We see that smartphones now come with displays ranging from 6-inch up to 7-inch. If you are looking for a comparatively smaller smartphone, you need to get a phone with a 6-inch display size. For content consumption, you can get a 6.5-inch phone but anything above that will be too big for most people.

Aspect Ratio

smartphone-buying-guide-aspect-ratio
Source: H2S Media

Yet another thing to consider in a display is its aspect ratio. We have different aspect ratios in every smartphone right now. Earlier, we used to see that 16:9 aspect ratio was standard for all smartphones for most years but now from the last 2 years the trend has changed and has evolved into much taller smartphones and thus the higher aspect ratio.

We now see that displays with 18:9 aspect ratio have become the new standard. Also, there are smartphones out there that have a 19:9 aspect ratio, 20:9 aspect ratio or even a 21:9 aspect ratio. So you should buy a smartphone with an 18:9 aspect ratio right now as most of the content on different platforms is tuned towards that aspect ratio too.

Display Protection

One of the most important things that you should look forward to in a display is the protection used. The industry standard tough glass is manufactured by Corning, which have their flagship line of glass known as the Gorilla Glass that is a toughened glasses for smartphones and is used on most smartphones. So if you are buying a smartphone, make sure that it comes with Gorilla Glass protection which should prevent the display from scratching and even protect against minor falls.

Design

The next important thing to focus on whenever you are buying a new smartphone is its design. Now, we know that design is a subjective thing and you might not like the design that we like. However, there are a few things that make a smartphone premium while there are others from which you can make out that the smartphone is not premium.

One of those design choices is the use of plastic, metal or glass on the rear panel of the device. As far as the premium flagship smartphones are concerned, we see that they all come with either glass material at the back. 

But if we see mid-range smartphones, they use a metal back which is cheaper than glass to reduce the cost. However, budget smartphones make use of plastic for their back panel which does not look good but it is the best when cost reduction is concerned.

Cameras

smartphone-buying-guide-camera
Source: MKBHD

Cameras have become the most important factor for people nowadays when they are buying a new smartphone. This is because people want to do proper photography on their phones which means that cameras of good quality are needed.

We see that smartphones come with dual, triple and even four cameras at the back. While that does improve the versatility of your device, it does not definitely mean that more cameras will be better for photography. Because we have an example of smartphones such as the Google Pixel 4 series that takes great photos with a dual-camera setup.

Where more cameras of a smartphone are useful is when it comes to taking different kinds of shots such as wide-angle, telephoto or portrait mode shots as well as zoomed-in photos. Because if you have cameras dedicated for that purpose, you will be able to take them otherwise not as each camera has a defined focal length that determines how far the camera can focus.

Also read: Best Camera Apps For iPhone and The Best Camera Apps For Android

Battery

smartphone-buying-guide-battery
Source: SayingTruth

The battery is another important factor in deciding for a smartphone since it is important that your smartphone’s battery stays up for a long time to use it longer as well. So it is important that you buy a smartphone that comes with a higher capacity battery inside it.

In general terms, we have seen that smartphones that have a battery capacity between the 3500 mAh to 4000 mAh range tend to run for a day or two when it comes to normal usage. However, smartphones with a battery capacity higher than 4500 mAh will run for two days even on heavy usage. So if you are not a heavy user then you can buy a smartphone with a capacity of more than 3800 mAh and you are good to go.

Also read: Why Is My Phone’s Battery Draining So Fast?

Charging Speeds

When we talk about the battery on a smartphone, we also need to consider the battery charging speeds. Earlier, we used to see that smartphones would take a lot of time to charge and it might even take 2 hours or longer to charge your smartphone.

However, the invention of fast charging has changed the game as we now see much faster-charging speeds available for smartphones. So if you are buying a smartphone with a higher battery capacity, it is recommended that you check if it has faster charging or not. 

Earlier, we had 5W as the standard charging speed for every smartphone which was extremely slow. Now, we have charging speeds up to the 65W mark which are extremely fast and can charge your device in just half an hour. 

Talking about charging technology, you have Qualcomm’s fast charge technology present on devices powered by Snapdragon chips while QC 4.0 is the latest that supports up to 18W fast charging. Also, OnePlus’ Dash Charge technology lets you charge the device at 20W whereas its latest Warp Charge supports 30W fast charging. 

Wireless Charging

smartphone-buying-guide-wireless-charging
Source: Digital Trends

Another important aspect of a smartphone is the charging technology it supports. We have seen that charging has now gone from just being wired to wireless as well. This is because of the wireless charging technology which lets you place your smartphone on a charging pad and it charges without any wires attached.

However, wireless charging is currently seen on flagship phones only as you need to have a glass back panel to add wireless charging support. Currently, Apple’s iPhones support wireless charging while Samsung phones have had this support for a long time. As for others, we know that Google Pixel devices support wireless charging whereas OnePlus’ latest smartphone, the OnePlus 8 Series might have wireless charging too.

Operating System

smartphone-buying-guide-operating-system
Source: Prizm Institute

One of the last choices you need to make when buying a new smartphone is the operating system it has installed. As far as operating system choice is concerned, you can either get an Android smartphone or an iOS one. However, there are multiple choices when you are choosing Android as we have different skins on top of Stock Android.

So if you are buying an Android smartphone, you can either have a Stock Android phone such as Google Pixel, or any Android One device. For Android skins, you have the option of choosing Xiaomi’s MIUI, OnePlus’ OxygenOS, Huawei’s EMUI or Samsung’s OneUI which offer different features.

Device Security

Last but not the least, you need to make the most important choice regarding your smartphone which is related to its security. Now, we know that security is provided at the OS level on both Android and iOS. However, you also need to have some sort of biometric protection and this can be via a fingerprint sensor or even Face Unlock.

The most basic security mechanism which is available on each and every smartphone right now is the ability to set a PIN or password or even unlock using a pattern. However, they are not as secure since people might keep an eye on your activity and can track your inputs so that they can unlock it when you are not close to the phone.

On the other hand, we have fingerprint sensors that take your fingerprint as input and unlock the device whenever the pattern matches any one of five patterns stored within the device. Now, we know that the fingerprint sensor is the most secure form of biometric authentication since every person has a fingerprint that is unique to them.

Also, we have an additional security measure available right now which is Face Unlock and while Android smartphones provide digital Face Unlock, it is not as secure since you can unlock it via a photocopy or an identical twin.

For this reason, smartphones like Apple iPhones and the Google Pixel now come with dedicated face scanning hardware such as an IR sensor and dedicated cameras for scanning the face. This is generally much more secure but it does mean that you need to have a notch on your device and sacrifice the display space.

So above were a few recommendations before buying a new smartphone, and it totally depends on your preference with which you can decide which smartphone suits you the best. In case you are out in the market to sell your smartphone and looking to upgrade your smartphone then you can Click here if you want to sell your old mobile phone for the best price!



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