Choosing the best suitable smartphone is not an easy task due to an overwhelming number of smartphone in the market and that’s the reason we are writing an article on smartphone buying guide to help guide you on things you must look out for before purchasing any smartphone. Many factors come into consideration which we @alphagadgetreview will list briefly then explain later in this article. They include:
• Who is to use the smartphone: is it for me? My kid? My mom?
• Purpose of buying: Do I just need a phone for just watching videos or playing games? or for studies or for personal usage or for my work?
• Affordability: How much do I want to spend? Is the phone really worth the price?
• Manufacturer: Is the phone Apple or Samsung or Google etc.
• Operating system: Is it IOS or Android?
• Performance: What’s the processor chipset, graphics, RAM size?
• Storage capacity: What’s the internal storage capacity I should be looking out for?
• Display: What’s the screen size, resolution, refresh rate, display type, aspect ratio, HDR-enabled?
• Camera: How clear are the cameras, number of cameras, megapixel of the cameras and aperture?
• Battery: What’s the battery power, battery runtime? Does it support wireless charging, fast charging, reverse charging?
• Other features: Is it 1P68 water resistant? Does it have finger print sensor, face recognition, s-pen, esim, dual sim, NFC, google assistant?
• Body dimension? What’s the portability? how large is it? How lightweight is it?
• Chassis design: How strong is the device, how is the phone is structured and features positioned, curves at edges, bezels, durable materials?
• Connectivity: 5G, browsing speed, Dual-band WiFi & Bluetooth version?
• Ports: USB type, headphone jack?
WHO IS TO USE THE SMARTPHONE
Imagine buying an iPhone 12 for your kids or a Samsung galaxy fold 2 for your Grandma or aged mom. Doesn’t that sound awkward? Your kids might think that it is a toy and play phone and might even hit it on the floor because they don’t know its worth. Same applies to your aged mum or Grandma; what they may need is just a simple phone for just browsing, watching videos and serve other entertainment purposes. So the first factor we must put into consideration should be “who will use the smartphone”?
PURPOSE OF BUYING
There is this saying “when the purpose of a thing isn’t known, abuse is inevitable”. This means that when we don’t know the purpose of buying a thing, we won’t know its value too. This is a very important factor that we must look out for while buying a smartphone or anything at all. Let’s assume you are into photography or a camera freak, the first thing you should look out for is camera quality. Or maybe you are an addicted gamer, then you must look into the processor chipset, RAM size and even storage. Or maybe you are a heavy phone user and you do experience power shortage too, then you must look out for a high battery capacity phone. So that said, let’s always have a purpose before purchase.
Price doesn’t always determine quality. There is this saying “Cut your coat according to your size” this simply means that you should buy what you can afford. Many a time, we find people desiring to use splurge phones which is way above their income. Have you asked yourself what could become of you if the phone suddenly gets missing or damaged? Also, some smartphone are very overpriced and don’t worth the hype. Some good smartphones are underpriced too so we must not always look out for high priced phones but phones which we can comfortably afford, phones with the best value for money. We wrote on article on best smartphone. So you can check the article to know the best affordable smartphone for you. On the average, phone brands like iPhone and Samsung are always costlier than their counterparts like Motorola, OnePlus.
There are so many phone brands in the market which might make someone to ask “which is actually the best”. Though we might still have our preferences be it Apple, Samsung, One plus, LG, Sony, Microsoft, Google, Motorola etc. To some people smartphone brands matter while to others, it might not really matter but what should matter most is the quality and features of the smartphone.
Although iPhone and Samsung has proven to be the best so far but we still have some smartphones from other brands which are better than some iPhone and Samsung models. Also note that iPhone and Samsung models are generally costly so one might be prompted to look elsewhere especially when considering affordability and best value.
The operating system is the software which a smartphone operates; it shapes the way the interface and apps run on the smartphone. We have basically two operating systems: The iOS and Android. The iOS is designed by Apple and is ran only on iPhones while Android is designed by Google and ran on Samsung, Motorola, Oneplus and many other brands. Many a time, people ask this question “between iOS and Android, which is better operating system?”. That question doesn’t really have a direct answer as iOS is better in some ways while Android is better in some ways too.
The iOS has advantages in areas like support system as Apple controls every aspect of the development unlike Android which is used in various brands; regular software updates, more security, iMessage, FaceTime, minimal bloatware while Android is more user friendly, more customizable, better usage of Google services and apps like Google Play Music streaming service, Google Drive cloud storage, Google Home smart speaker; provides access to a wide variety of apps and you can download apps from third parties though we don’t recommend that. Android is generally more affordable especially for mid-range phones.
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The performance is mainly determined by two things: The processor and the RAM.
Processor: This is essentially the brain box of the phone and it is responsible for almost everything functioning on your smartphone. A better processor means better speed, power efficiency, quicker completion of tasks, more excellent multitasking. For iOS phones, Apple’s A-series chipset is the best while for Android phones, Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus is the lastest but for mid-range Android smartphones, you will find the Snapdragon 730 and 730G, Snapdragon 675, MediaTek Helio G90T etc. Also note that the more the cores, the more the efficiency.
RAM: RAM on the other hand, is another form of storage used to store working data thereby holding data that active applications are using and makes data to be pulled up quickly without having to reload though the functionality of a RAM depends on the RAM size. Also know that Opened apps are saved in the RAM so when you are done using an app, it is best to close it most especially when you are using a low RAM size phone as failure to do this may lead to hanging and dull multitasking experience. Pay attention on the RAM size especially if you are going for an Android phone. We recommend at least 4GB RAM size. Also know that the more the RAM, the more you experience an excellent multitasking experience.
Storage is one of most important feature we must consider while shopping for a new smartphone. Having the right amount of internal storage is essential, consider 64GB or at least 32GB storage if not with time, you will be running out of storage. We still have flagship models which have up to 512GB. More internal storage means more files, apps, videos, photos, documents, audio that’s while adequate storage is essential. Also note that every smartphone comes with preinstalled apps which take a bit of the storage. Also, keep an eye on smartphones with expandable memory storage.
When we say display we mean the screen size, resolution, refresh rate, display type, aspect ratio, HDR.
Screen size: If 70% of your daily activities on your phone involve watching videos and playing games then you should consider buying large screens. Screen sizes can be as small as 4 inches and as large as 7inches and with time, larger screens have evolved especially now that there is a trend of edge-to-edge displays, which minimizes the space between the screen and the edge of the smartphone.
Display type: When it comes to display type we should go for the LCD of which TFT-LCD & IPS-LCD are its variant and AMOLED displays of which OLED & Super AMOLED (in Samsung) are its variant. LCDs are cheaper to produce that is why they are more used but AMOLED are more battery conserving and produce deeper colors unlike the LCDs. When it comes to LCDs, the IPS-LCDs are better than the TFT-LCDs especially in color production and wider viewing angles but are costlier.
Resolution: Then the next thing you should consider is the resolutions which include: HD (1280 x 720 pixels), Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels also know as 2k), Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels also known as 4k) and Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixels). The UHD is the best followed by the QHD then the FHD and finally the HD. Note that the higher the resolution, the higher the quality and most likely the higher the pricing.
Refresh rate: the refresh rate which is the number of times the smartphone updates with new images in a second. Refresh range from 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz even up to 240Hz. Also note that the higher the refresh rate of a smartphone, the smoother the visuals delivered.
HDR: it is also important which has a major work of expanding the range of color contrast. The colors are expanded to show more bright yellows, blues, reds, greens, and every other color in between. Then comes the aspect ratio which is the ratio of its width of an image to its height.
Buying a smartphone with a topnotch camera quality is vital especially if you like snapping photos. Some smartphone even have as much as four cameras at the back while some like the iphone 12 has 3, some have 2 and some have just 1 back camera. Note that the number of cameras doesn’t necessarily connote quality because we have single cameras that are better than some smartphone’s triple cameras.
You can also watch out the MP as the megapixel determines the number of pixels that make up any photo or video; the higher the megapixels, the higher the resolution display. You might not really notice the effect of a higher MP until you view that snapped picture or video on a large display. Also note that higher Megapixel doesn’t mean higher camera quality.
Many smartphone come with other fascinating camera features such as ToF sensor, macro lens, telephoto lens, ultra wide lens and color filter lens.
The battery power or capacity (mAh) really matters a lot especially if you are a heavy phone user and it is measured in milliampere-hours (mAh). IPhone 12 pro max and moto GP have one of the best battery capacity (5000mAh). Note that a phone rated 4000mAh might even last longer than a 4500mAh though this depends on the manufacturer, screen size, type of display, resolution, software, processor and connectivity. We recommend minimum 3000mAh especially for an average user and 4000mAh for a heavy user.
Battery runtime has to do with the number of hours the battery will last after a single charge. This is also determined by the battery capacity but factors like 5G connectivity, display brightness, regular usage can shorten this. We recommend at least 6 hours runtime of active usage (with exception of 5G internet connection as this runs down battery so quickly).
Wireless charging: this is used to charge a smartphone by placing it on a charging mat or dock, without having to plug it using a USB cord which is best used on high-end smartphones. Many flagship smartphones have this feature.
Fast charging: this has do to with how fast your device charges before it gets full. Do you know that some phones charge up to 6hours before the battery gets full while some can just charge up to 100% in less than 1hour? Fast charge is what we must look out for while purchasing a smartphone.
Reverse wireless charging: it is a feature that allows you to charge your gadgets through your phone via wireless charging. We can consider this too though it isn’t too necessary.
There are some other features which we can still look put for. These include: 1P68 water resistance rating, finger print sensor, face unlock, s-pen, esim, dual sim, NFC, google assistant?
IP rating: this has to do with how water and dust resistant your smartphone is. While some phones are water resistant, some others are not; some are even more water resistant than others. Ip68 protects your smartphone in case of accidental submersion in water. Some devices can stay up to 30meters in a pool of water while some could stay lesser.
Almost every modern smartphone has the finger print sensor, face recognition featurefor unlocking the smartphone and other security authorizations. Some flagship smartphones also have the Iris scanning which is used for securing your phone contents from prying eyes.
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E-sim just like the NFC (used for payment techs) is a small chip embedded in your smartphone. It is not like the usual physical sim but does all that the physical sim does. One advantage of this is that you don’t need to buy a sim again and it serves as an alternative sim. E-sim can be found in IPhone 12 series and google pixel 4a.
The size of a smartphone really phone a lot; while some might be looking for a portable device, some others might be looking for a large device; some smartphones are heavy while some are very lightweight; some smartphone are ultra slim while some others are very thick like the Samsung fold 2 and Microsoft duo are thick when flooded. So u see? different smartphones with so many variations just to suit people’s desires.
Have you imagined buying a phone and it gets damaged in less than 1 year of use? Some phones have lesser warranty life, some phones have fading camera, some phones are made of glass throughout while some have a metal or plastic body, some phones come with gorilla screen, some phones can also withstand drops and bumps.
There are some smartphones, which have a higher warranty life than others; trust iPhone and Samsung on that. There are some smartphones that the camera quality fades away with time. This feature is very common with the tecno and infinix phones. Many flagship phones and midrange phones now come with glass throughout.
So we should do our best by buying protective cases to prevent it from cracks when it falls.
Some devices feature the gorilla screen so this means that the glass is very strong and can withstand cracks during falls to an extent.
Some phones can withstand drops and bumps, so check out if the smartphone you intend buying has the military drop-test rating.
How the phone is structured and features positioned: this has to do with the way stuffs like the cameras, finger print, charging port, power, navigation & special buttons, navigation & home buttons are positioned.
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Curves at edges: most phones have curves at its edges and this curves contributes to its aesthetics. Some also have 90° square edges; so it all depends on your choice.
Bezels: Foldable phones have bezels when unfolded though for some devices, it disappears with time.
Type of materials: some devices are made of glass, aluminum, plastic. Some are even made of materials combination too.
5G: With the evolution of 5G, many manufactures now have 5G on flagship and midrange smartphones although 5G drains more battery and it’s costly. Smartphones like iPhone 12, Samsung galaxy fold, Google pixel 5 and many more are all 5G enabled. But one most first consider if buying a 5G phone is essential because 5G isn’t very wide spread in some countries. If its worth buying, why not but if it’s not, then go for a 4G phone with high browsing speed. Phones like Google pixel 4a and Moto G power are 4G enabled.
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Browsing speed: this has to do with how fast your phone can browse, number of megabyte/second for downloads and uploads.
WiFi & Bluetooth: the later the version of a WiFi and Bluetooth, the better. If you have a home or office hotspot then you should look for a phone with a high WiFi version although recent phones have a high WiFi version, same applies for Bluetooth.
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We have different USB types but we recommend the USB type C it has durability advantages over the micro USB.
Headphone jack: It is a small round hole for connecting a headphone via its rod-like plug and can support stereo sound & microphone. It has a diameter of 3.5mm. Though this feature isn’t present in every smartphone due to the rampant bluetooth headphones but atimes, you might feel like connecting via the cord.
So these are the considerations we must have at heart before purchasing any smartphone. While some might be essential, some others might be neglected.
Thanks for reading our article on smartphone buying guide, hope this article was helpful? Please check other insightful articles as no knowledge is a waste. Also do well to check on us some other time for more insightful contents; tell your friends about us @alphagagetreview too.