Buying a new smartphone can be pretty exciting. It’s like getting a brand new toy with which to play and explore all sorts of possibilities. But with so many different phones on the market, it can be a daunting task for some to choose one that is right for them.
And given how expensive some smartphones are today, you don’t want to be stuck for a couple (or several) years with a phone that doesn’t satisfy your needs exactly and frustrates you now and again.
Below are twelve things you need to consider when buying a smartphone, to prevent such a situation. Some of the points below might seem obvious but they’re still important to think about. These points are personal in nature and don’t necessarily dig deep into the exact specifications you should look for. For that, I recommend you read this article.
Nonetheless, the twelve points below will certainly lead you in the right direction when it comes to choosing a phone that’s right for you.
1. How much can you afford to spend?
This is perhaps the most obvious but one of the greatest and most important considerations of them all. There is no point in fantasizing about a smartphone that can satisfy all your needs if you don’t have the money for it. The best thing to do is see how much you can spend on a smartphone, then base all other considerations around that.
The more bells and whistles a smartphone has, the costlier it will be. This is more so especially if it is a known-brand smartphone with high-quality hardware and fancy features. Because of that, paying cash outright for some of today’s high-end smartphones can cost an arm and a leg.
An alternative to putting up a whole lot of cash all at once for a smartphone is to enter into a post-paid contract with a mobile network service provider. In some markets, these service providers will give you a smartphone on a payment plan and have you pay monthly fees for the phone and their service.
Post-paid contracts can make it easier to get your hands on your desired smartphone, but, depending on the payment plan, you could end up spending quite a lot of money every month on call and data costs on top of paying for the smartphone.
Whether you want to pay cash for your smartphone or sign a monthly contract, carefully consider how much you can spend on it and choose a phone based on that.
ALSO READ: Top 5 Budget Smartphones
2. What do you want to use the phone for primarily?
The days when phones were used primarily for making and receiving calls are long gone. These days, many people use their smartphones for a variety of other things besides calling. If you’re looking to buy a new phone, you need to know what you’re going to use it for most, so that you can satisfy those needs.
For example, if you love playing mobile games on your smartphone, then you should buy a gaming smartphone, which is specifically made and marketed for that purpose.
Lenovo Legion Duel gaming smartphone
Another example is if you have a personal number and business number but don’t want to use two phones. Getting a phone that allows you to use two SIM cards at the same time would be most ideal.
If you’re into mobile photography or creating video content with your phone more than anything, then it’s best you focus your attention on the camera in your search for a new phone.
If you buy a smartphone just because it is popular without considering what you actually want to use it for, you might end up being disappointed by its performance or paying too much for features you don’t really need. If you want a general smartphone that can do a bit of everything, then look for an all-rounder with some pretty decent specs.
ALSO READ: What To Look For When Buying A Smartphone
3. What type of phone are you looking for?
From a distance, most smartphones look the same at face value. However, they’re all different. Some are made of glass, while others are made of metal or plastic. If the build material of a smartphone really matters to you, then it’s worth considering.
For some people, a smartphone is more than just a communication-come-entertainment device. It’s an accessory or statement piece. For someone like that, a plastic phone just won’t cut it. A glass smartphone is more up their ally because of how glamorous and premium it looks.
Other people care more about comfort and practicality. Glass is fragile, and that puts some people off because of how easily it can break and the fact that glass-back smartphones don’t usually have removable batteries.
Also keep in mind that if you want a phone that can charge wirelessly, chances are it will be made of glass and the battery won’t be removable. Metal does not work well with wireless charging.
ALSO READ: Out of What Type of Material Are Smartphones Made?
4. How big are your hands?
No, seriously. When it comes to phones, size actually does matter. A lot. And that’s because it can impact the user experience.
For example, if you have big hands, you might find it frustrating to use a small phone where the keys on the touchpad are too close together for your fingers to tap separately.
On the other hand (excuse the pun), although you can use a large phone if you have fairly small hands, it might feel less than comfortable when using it with one hand.
The size of the phone is a matter of personal preference and some people don’t mind it. But if you get a phone that fits well in your hands, not only will it feel great to use, but it also gives you a better grip on your phone. That might also minimize that likelihood of it falling out of your hands constantly.
ALSO READ: The Top 5 Biggest Smartphones of Today
5. How good is the display?
The quality of a phone display is very important because it’s the one input/output feature we interact with the most on our phones. And if you’re a mobile gamer, mobile filmmaker, or just love watching movies on your phone, then a good display is more valuable to you than most.
As an output device, there are a few things you need to consider. The first thing is the resolution. The higher the resolution, the clearer and more detailed the images on the display will look.
Another important thing to consider is the pixels per inch or PPI. Pixels are tiny building blocks of colours that make up any digital image or display. The more pixels you have per inch, the better the display will be, although you have to take into account the resolution and the size of the screen, as well.
There are plenty of other factors that make a good mobile phone display such as the screen refresh rate, the brightness in nits, the display type (e.g., AMOLED), touchscreen technology, and others. If the display is important to you than anything else, be sure to familiarise yourself with everything that relates to it so that you can find a phone that fits your display needs.
ALSO READ: Everything You Need To Know About Smartphone Displays
6. Do you need a good camera?
If taking pictures with a phone is a big deal to you, then you need to pay particular attention to the phone’s camera specs. If the camera on a phone is nothing to you but a nice-to-have, then block out all the marketing hype around the cameras and find a phone with features you find more useful.
Sure, pretty much everyone who has a smartphone with a camera has taken some pictures with it but not everyone is a mobile photographer. And someone who is not a mobile photographer, an Instagrammer, or a photography hobbyist does not need a camera with a 108MP resolution and 100x zoom just to take pictures of their loved ones at special events. In fact, nobody needs that many megapixels on their mobile camera.
For those looking for a phone with a good camera, just keep in mind that a phone with a good mobile camera doesn’t necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg. Yes, flagship phones tend to have better camera specs, but they are expensive because of all the other bells and whistles that come with the phone. There are cheaper options available with decent cameras.
If you’re looking to buy a smartphone with a good camera so that you can do mobile photography, you need to know what to look for. Check out some things to consider when buying a phone for mobile photography here.
7. How much storage do you need?
The question of storage is an important one to consider if you don’t want to find yourself constantly deleting files because you have run out of space.
In terms of storage, the first thing you need to consider is how much internal storage space you need. Will the storage space on the phone you want to get be enough to store all the documents, videos, music, and files you use regularly?
The second thing to consider is the external storage space. Should the space available in the phone not be enough for all your files, does the phone come with a slot for a memory card? If the phone doesn’t have enough storage space internally and no expandable memory slot, then you might come into some frustrating times constantly deleting and moving things around to make space for more.
Sure, you can save some of your files to the cloud and retrieve them whenever you want. However, that might not always be possible, especially if data costs are expensive in your part of the world and/or the files you need to retrieve are very large.
ALSO READ: Smartphones With The Most Storage Capacity
8. Does sound matter to you?
To be honest, I don’t think that many people actually care enough about the sound that comes from the loudspeaker of a phone to make a purchase decision based on it. That being said, there actually are some differences in the quality of sound that comes from individual smartphones that some people might appreciate.
For example, some smartphones boast stereo sound instead of the popular mono sound. Some smartphones have a higher bit-rate and sampling rate than others. To the untrained ear that might mean nothing but to a mobile gamer, mobile filmmaker, or an audiophile, good sound quality can enhance their user experience.
However, one aspect of mobile phone sound that affects everyone, all the same, is the 3.5mm audio jack. Since Apple decided people don’t need an audio jack on their phones, other phone manufacturers have followed suit, especially with their top-of-the-range phones.
It’s a polarizing issue with some people having no problem using wireless earphones, while others are not happy with it at all. If not having a 3.5mm audio jack is a deal-breaker for you, then keep that in mind when shopping around for a new phone.
9. How long do you expect the battery to last?
If you use your phone a lot during the day, the last thing you need is the inconvenience of tethering yourself to a wall because you need to charge. And although power banks do come in handy, it doesn’t hurt to have a phone with a battery that can last a bit longer.
The capacity of a smartphone battery is expressed in mAh (milliampere-hours). A typical smartphone battery can have anywhere between 3000mAh and 4000mAh. The higher the mAh, the more capacity a battery has. The more capacity the battery has, the longer it will last after a full charge.
Another thing worth considering regarding the battery is the time it takes to charge. Some smartphones today have fast charging technology, which enables phones to charge completely in as little as twenty minutes, in some instances.
10. Does speed matter?
Of course, speed matters. Who wants to be stuck using a very slow and unresponsive phone? The question is how much speed do you really need? If you need your phone to perform a few basic functions, then you wouldn’t need the speed and performance of a gaming smartphone.
The biggest indicator of the speed of a smartphone is the processor’s clock speed, which is expressed in gigahertz (GHz). The more GHz a CPU (central processing unit) has, the faster the phone can operate.
Today, it’s not uncommon to find smartphones with more than one CPU core. In fact, it’s more common to find phones with two, four, six, or eight cores. Having more CPU cores adds to the speed and enhances the general performance of the mobile phone.
Another thing worth considering is the amount of RAM the phone has. Although it doesn’t necessarily speed up the phone, having a generous amount of RAM makes it easier for the phone to multitask, thus making the user experience feel faster.
ALSO READ: How Much RAM Does A Phone Really Need?
11. Do you have any specific needs?
We don’t all live the same type of lives and, therefore, the things we do and the needs we have are varied. For example, someone who spends most of their time in or around water might want to consider getting a phone that’s waterproof to avoid the likelihood of water damage.
If health and fitness is your thing, then a phone with a heart rate sensor and step counter might be ideal for you. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, then a phone with a magnetometer, barometer, or altimeter will be useful for you.
Also, for those who worry that their lifestyle or work is too rough for today’s delicate glass phones to handle, there are a few rugged, durable smartphone options that are designed to withstand some serious abuse.
Because of the sheer number of smartphones available on the market, it’s possible to find a phone that can satisfy a wide variety of needs. In Japan, for example, a phone with a radiation sensor was released back in 2011 following their nuclear disaster.
ALSO READ: All Smartphone Sensors Fully Explained
12. Are you pro-Android or an Apple fan?
There are currently two mobile operating systems that dominate the market right now– Android and iOS. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both have their fans and haters. If you are neither, then you need to look into their pros and cons before you commit.
One of the advantages that Android has over Apple is the sheer number of options available to you in terms of smartphone brands, phone features, and price ranges. You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for a phone that has no audio jack and requires you to buy an additional adaptor for it.
But that’s not to say that iPhones don’t have their advantages over Android phones. As anybody who has ever used an iPhone will tell you, it’s fast, intuitive, and feels really good in the hand.
Whether you opt for an Android phone or an iPhone, the decision should be entirely based on what you’re comfortable with. If you own other Apple products, the iPhone will fit right in perfectly.
However, you won’t benefit from the Apple ecosystem if the only Apple product you have is your iPhone. Also, you might have a hard time connecting it to other non-Apple devices because Apple tends to be a bit fussy when it comes to foreign technology.
ALSO READ: iPhone vs. Android: Which Is Best For You?
Because a phone is a very personal device, the decision of which one to buy should be based on your personal preferences, your lifestyle, and your needs, not marketing hype. By considering the above, you will be able to see what’s most important to you in a smartphone and go for that.
You can use sites like GSM Arena and Epey to searches for mobile phones by selecting features and functions you need and don’t need. From there you can look up the specifications and choose the best one for your budget.