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Buying A New Smartphone: 10 things to consider

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Buying A New Smartphone
Buying A New Smartphone

Smartphones these days have become an integral part of our lives. We use them for communication, taking pictures, saving documents on the cloud, internet browsing and even as a power bank to charge other smartphones.

Buying a smartphone is quite a hassle and due to the advent of operating systems such as ios, windows, and android, we end up in confusion about what should we buy and what might turn up wrong decision or bad taste in the mouth.

 Since 2014, I am buying smartphones those offers better value over the time. Initially, I was not aware of these things and ended up in buying smartphones just because of their looks and brand value.

After few mistakes, I started researching about phones and this guide will provide you the basic knowledge about smartphones if you understand it properly then you will be able to tell which smartphone is better than the other. Specifications tell a lot about smartphones and end user get much better to hold over the technology if one has a basic understanding of various parts and technology used in phones.

There are many variety of smartphones available in the market it is never easy to decide which one to pick. It is always tough deciding the one that may suit our needs best.

Here’s a list of things you should consider before you decide to buy your next smartphone.

1. Processor

The processing power of a smartphone varies from one device to another depending on several factors such as OS version, UI, bloatware and more.

If you are a heavy user who need to edit images/videos/documents online, play heavy games, stream videos or often use apps in split screen mode, then smartphones with Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 or Snapdragon 820/821 should make multitasking fluid for you.

Light users will be happy with handsets that come with MediaTek processors.

If you are buying a smartphone and want to know more about processors, than here are some tips –

Look into Snapdragon or MediaTek website with the model number of your processor and check respective websites. There are Wikipedia articles about most of the processors but they might be confusing for beginners.

Here is the quick overview

SnapDragon Processors

  1. Snapdragon 200 series– lowest end processor (good for low memory games, browsing internet and regular social media application), it usually lasts for two years after it might not be as snappy for the basic applications. If you are a gamer or an advanced user then you should not go for it. Best deal for a smartphone having this processor is between 4000-7000 INR.
  2. Snapdragon 400 series – It is the best processor for entry level smartphones as it provides better value in terms of performance and gaming experience. You will get support by applications as it is a very popular series of processors. It is highly recommended series, many high end smartphones are going for it. Best deal for this series is between 6000-12000 INR. Exceptional case: If you are happy with looks and other features of your desired phone but the price is higher to the point of 19999 INR then you can go for it.
  3. Snapdragon 600 series – It is quite unusual series. Processor in this series were used to come into flagship series smartphones such Samsung s3, note, HTC flagships, other initial androids. Now it is the second most important series of processor. Usually these are more powerful, performing and efficient than 400 series. There are few processors in this series(625, 626, 630 and 660) built with 14nm finFET manufacturing  process, which in laymen terms makes these two processors superior than their counterparts by improving power efficiency.
  4. Snapdragon 800 series – It is a flagship series made by snapdragon, at present all android flagships have a snapdragon 800 series chip inside them. They provide best and latest features inside them. If your smartphone have a chip from this series then you don’t need to look twice over it unless chip is ‘810’, which has been a disaster as it has severe heating-related issues. For others, you don’t need to think too much. If you want best in class gaming, virtual reality support and other cut throat features then go for the latest and cheapest smartphone that has snapdragon 800 series chip. Recently snapdragon 820,821 and 835 were so good that they even managed to get ahead of latest apple chips.

MediaTek Chips

I myself generally ignore Mediatek chips as they tend to overheat or simply don’t have applications support to them. Cheap smartphones usually from Indian or Chinese smartphones manufactures use them.

They do have some good chips too such as Helio x and p series. If you are confused about between Snapdragon400 or helio chips, than you should go for Mediatek chip, because performance is better in Mediatek chips compared to snapdragon low end chips.

You won’t get extreme battery life because they have many cores such as quad, Hexa, Octa and Deca cores. More cores usually have many drawbacks like they consume more power and produce heat, single cores are weak so phone might hang or lag for games and graphics intensive applications. Only thing that’s better with more cores is multi tasking. So when we sum it up, we should avoid mediate generally but if your beloved smartphone have Helio chip rather than regular Mediatek then there are fewer things to worry about.

A13 Bionic

A13 Bionic is equipped with a specialized machine learning processor called the “Neural Engine” and designed by Apple Inc.

Apple has announced the Apple A13 Bionic, the new system-on-chip processor that’ll power the Apple iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max.Allowing for powerful features like 4K video at 60fps and slow-motion selfies aka ‘slofies’, as well as spatial audio, the Apple A13 Bionic has been described by Kaiann Drance, senior director, product marketing, iPhone, described “The A13 Bionic is the fastest CPU ever in a smartphone,” Apple said onstage, adding that it also has “the fastest GPU in a smartphone,” too. Initially, it only provided these vague, unlabeled graphs for comparison:

Exynos (Samsung Chip), Kirin(Hisilicon chips)

Exynos has been a good alternative to snapdragon chips as they are quite good for daily tasks, do not have heating issues and provide good performance as well. Only drawback is lack of support by developers in general. HiSilicon kirin’s line is quite impressive and similar to Samasung exynos. Kirin chips are also very power and performance friendly. Recently they are making chip specifically for some models(p10, mate9) and applications (pokemon go).

Intel Atoms and Other

Only a few smartphones have these chips and usually they aren’t received well such zenfone c(intel atoms), mi pad 2, etc. they have heating issues as well but most important problem might be lack of advanced features as well as applications might hang up on them. Tigra chips and nvdia chips are examples of wrong implementation of chips in phones. Only handful of smartphone oems uses such chips. Recently MI also launched surge s1 processor.

2. Build quality

Build is all about durability of a smartphone. The entire handset market is largely divided in two types of builds — metal and plastic.

There are some that even have glass-coated panels, but those are very limited. If you are one of those prone to dropping your smartphone, it’s advisable to go for a metal or a plastic built handset.

These can sustain drops from 2-3 feet, while glass-based handset are sure to shatter.

3. RAM

RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and is used as a short-term memory storage space for the computer to place data it’s currently working on so it’s easily accessible. The more RAM a computer has, the more data it can usually juggle at any given moment. Think of RAM as a workspace: A giant workbench is obviously easier to work at than a tiny tea tray would be.

Just check whether it DDR3 or later. More the number better is the deal. But you don’t need a ton of ram for your smartphone. More ram means you will get better multitasking.

4. Display

The size and resolution of display depends on how you use your smartphone. If you often stream videos, edit photos or videos, or download and view movies, then a smartphone display ranging from 5.5-inch to 6-inch, full-HD or QHD resolution should be good enough for you.

Anything larger than a 6-inch display not just makes the handset extra bulky, but also difficult to carry around. If you are a regular user and largely use the smartphone for checking emails, chatting and browsing social media apps, then anything from 5-inch to 5.5-inch HD or full-HD display handsets is perfect.

There are number of Factors you should look for such as :

Type of display

  1. LCD panel – Most common type in cheap smartphone, consumes more battery and might have a yellowish hue in it. According to me you should not go for it.
  2. IPS panel – Most of the smartphone, laptops and tv in these days have IPS panel in them. Reason is quite simple. They produce excellent colors. Don’t think too much if the smartphone you are purchasing have a IPS technology behind it.
  3. AMOLED panel – This is the most power efficient panel in the market today. Not many smartphones have it and the reason is that they are quite expensive and made by only one company named Samsung. I am not a Samsung fan but truth is that these panels produce perfect black color by turning off pixels to save power, contrast levels are perfect. They might have some kind of primary color (RGB) hue in them. But there overall performance is perfect.

Pixel Density

It is a number that defines the sharpness o the display. In laymen terms if a smartphone have a pixel density more than 270. Than it will look like a paper to human eye. You won’t be able to notice grids or black lines if pixel density is good. In expensive or a good smartphone, pixel density is more than 400.

Resolution

There are 4 types of resolutions

  1. SD – standard definition where picture quality is just ok. It is the basic resolution where everything is good enough for us, going lower than that you won’t be able to enjoy your content properly.
  2. HD or 720p – high definition is just more pixels. More pixels simply means better experience.
  3. Full HD or 1080p or beyond it are just numbers as your human is not capable beyond it.
  4. Quad HD and so on they are just numbers.

Brightness

Just check brightness that can be achieved by your smartphone because it is measured in a nits.

More nits will help you see pictures on display under direct sunlight. 400nits is a good number as a reference.

Viewing angles

Make sure it is more than 120.

Screen protection

Gorilla glass is good but not perfect so keep a tempered glass or some sort of lamination over your smartphone.

5. Camera

Just having higher number of megapixels does not mean that the smartphone camera is better. Several specifications such as camera aperture, ISO levels, pixel size, autofocus and more are essential as well. A 16MP rear camera does not necessarily be better than a 12MP camera. Same theory goes for the front-facing camera.

Higher number of pixels mean that the size of the image is bigger, which becomes more sharper when seen on a small screen.

A photographer enthusiast might want a camera with 12 or 16MP sensor under f/2.0 or lower aperture for speedy shots even in low lights.

A casual shooter can go by even with an 8MP 0r 12MP camera with f/2.0-f/2.2 aperture.

6. Battery

It depends and there is not much choice here as more than 98% batteries are lithium based either ion or poly because The amount of battery required by you depends upon screen size, type and processor you have.

IPhones have less amount of battery but offer good screen on time because of superior software and processor they use. Same thing is true if your phone a has good processor and good software.

7. Audio/Speakers

Speakers and the quality of audio coming out of it can be an important parameter for those who rely on heavy video streaming or video conferences.

If you like entertainment-on-the-go, buy a handset that has front-facing speakers. This gives clear sound even while holding the smartphone in landscape mode.

If you don’t indulge in video streaming or video conferencing much then a regular handset with bottom-firing speakers should be just fine.

Those with speakers placed at the back are also fine.

8. Price

Compare smartphones with prices according the phone specifications. Try to buy online but beware of few drawbacks as well. According to my own experience there are few companies specially Chinese which offer great value for money.

Here are few good companies Apple (iphones retain there value for a longer time), Lenovo ( good value for moey but software experience is poor), Xiaomi (provide only entry value smartphones with less structural integrity but overall value for money deals), HTC ( if you want to waste your money than go for it), Motorola (same as its parent company Lenovo, provide better custom roms), Samsung (you won’t get sensors in their entry level smartphones and mid range in little expensive considering specifications),Oppo, Realme and Vivo (parent company is same, I have one suggestion about them – just don’t buy them), Micromax and other Indian brands you can purchages accoprding your wallet.

If you have any query then comment.