How to buy the Perfect Smartphone? -

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Friday, January 12, 2018

How to buy the Perfect Smartphone?

With awesome new flagships from Apple, Google and Samsung all releasing one after another, with a plethora of feature-rich options for those on a tight budget, choosing the right smartphone has become very complex.
But we're here to help.

This Smartphone Buying Guide covers everything you need to know before you buy, including operating system, screen size, camera, processor and RAM.
Use this advice to ensure you get a loud-bang-for-your-buck phone.
So let’s get started.

1. Brand :

It is not necessary that Apple, Samsung, LG and Motorola phones will be best valued. Nowadays great phones often come from Chinese manufacturers like OnePlus, Huawei and Xiaomi. These phones come with more features for a fraction of a price.

For instance, the Google Pixel 2 XL comes with 6.0” P-Oled 1440x2880 pixels (~ 537 pixels per inch) protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5 with 12.2MP rear camera and 8MP front-shooter and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 at default 2.35 GHz coupled with 4 GB of RAM, running Android 8.0 and a non-upgradable 64 GB storage with 3520 Mah battery. All these features for the price of kidney, ₹ 80000 or $950.

Now on the other hand LG V30 comes with same display specs of the Pixel 2 XL with 16MP+12 MP Dual Camera with a 5MP front-shooter and is powered by the same processor as the Pixel but clocked at higher at 2.45 GHz coupled with a 4GB RAM, Running Android 7.1 ( Upgradable to 8.0) and an expandable storage up to 2TB with a battery 3300 Mah. And the price? ₹ 50000 or $800.

Well, the ultra intellectuals among you have already figured out that the V30 loses out on many features as compared to the Pixel 2 XL but it has a higher Performance and features to Value Ratio than the Pixel.
For almost ₹20000 less money you only lose out on some Camera Performance and battery. Now the Camera on the Pixel 2 is rated highest but it’s not really very superior from the V30 and as far the battery goes—both of them will get you through a day when used moderately.

2. 0S: One of the most significant aspects of choosing a phone is the OS. Basically iOS or Android?


Google’s Android is currently crushing any competition of mobile OS and majority of worldwide smartphone sales is of Android, and for fair reason. There are many choices than iPhones when it comes to design, display size, specs, features and price.
Plus, Android is a delight to use for its superior interface which is easier to customize with awesome launchers and widgets.
With the latest version of Android 8.0 Oreo, Google now offers blazing faster performance, a picture-in-picture feature for splitting screen space between two apps for smooth multitasking and Notification Dots to quickly glance at notifications.

That being said, when a new version of Android arrives, it can take several months (or longer) for the updated OS to be available for your phone unless its Google’s own Pixel line-up phones, which get security and software updates directly from Google ASAP. Otherwise, check to see if the phone maker has announced when (and if) it's planning to upgrade its devices to the latest version of Android.

iOS :

All of the latest iPhones are running the latest OS in Apple’s arsenal-- iOS 12— including the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, as well as older handsets like the iPhone SE. iOS 12 offers several enhancements, including a more useful Control Center, editing of Live Photos, a real files app (finally) and a revamped app store.

The biggest reasons to opt for an iOS device include its ease of use (but on the iPhone X due to lack of home button, the annoying gestures to go to home, back or even activating Siri takes some getting used to and is a tad-bit time consuming compared to Android), breezy access to OS updates as soon as they're available (unlike most Android phones) and ability to work smoothly with other devices in Apple’s ecosystem (such as the iPad and the Mac).
iOS is also more secure than Android and has stricter guidelines of Apps in its App Store.

Apple's App Store tends to get the trendiest and latest apps and games somewhat sooner than Android, mostly because developers find it easier to work on a limited set of devices such as iPhones.

2. Display:

Screen Size:

Though bigger screens are in trend, you shall still find a plethora of screen sizes. Size is only the tip of the iceberg, since you also have to look into the type and resolution of the screen carefully.

Small Screen (Around 5”) 

The main reason to buy a small screen phone is due to its compact size, which is a boon for one-hand usability. It’s very pocket friendly---both literally and metaphorically---as it is cheap due to its lesser screen size and fits in the pocket really well.

The iPhone 8 at 4.7” and Pixel 2 at 5” is both powerful and compact but the best is Sony’s Xperia XZ1 Compact at 4.6”.

Medium Screen (5 to 5.5 “) 

Phones in this size range are good for people who want a good balance between a design that's pocket friendly and an immersive entertainment experience.

The 5.3 “ Nokia 8 is a good example because of its long-lasting battery and bargain price), so is the HTC U11 at 5.5 “. There is also the option of the most unique phone of 2017--- ZTE Axon M which has a 5.2” dual (folding) screen.

Large Screen (5.5 “or Larger) 

Smartphones with displays 5.5 inches or larger, such as 6.2-inch Galaxy S9 Plus, 5.8“ iPhone X, 6” Pixel 2 XL, 6.3” Note 8 , 6” LG V35 and 6.28” OnePlus 6. These phones are great for content consuming and multitasking. Plus, most smartphone-makers are striving for making the bezels of their phones small... So all these phones are more compact while increasing the screen size.

Note: Try to Avoid less than 5” screen.

Display Quality & Resolution:

As I said the size of the screen is only the tip of the iceberg.
Inquire greatly about the screen brightness, color reproduction and viewing angles.
See the nit measurement of the screen panel as with higher nits comes greater visibility in sunlight

Well, nowadays the screen panel type on your flagship has become very complex with different types---such as IPS, OLED, AMOLED, P-OLED, etc. Since I’m too lazy to explain each of these types... I’ll just say that go for IPS if you have a budget like under ₹20000.

But go for OLED blindly if you have deeper pockets cause between OLEDS and IPS, OLEDs just better with sharper and more accurate color reproduction and darker blacks for those cool always-on display features.

Just research the reviews of the shortlisted phones in your budget and don’t forget to inquire if the display panel has any issues...Like Google's Pixel 2XL which suffered from Screen (pixels) burning issues.

For choosing Resolution, it is advisable to not buy full 4K (3840x2160 Pixels) displays as they are huge battery suckers.
Even while buying Flagship devices go for 2K (2560x1440 Pixels) display or even Full HD display (1920x1080 Pixels).

4. Design:

Astonishing design and looks depends on you and is very subjective. 

You have the option of a metal or glass design, or a phone that offers both, or polycarbonate (for budget devices) or even Ceramic as the Xiaomi Mi Mix Series.  (One of the benefits of a glass back is that it enables the phone to provide wireless charging, but you should ensure that this feature is available in the device.)

If durability is what you look for then make sure your phone is water-resistant. The most common spec for its waterproofing is its IP rating, like a phone rated IP68 means that it should survive being submerged in 5 feet  (about 1.5 meter) of water for 30 minutes. In other words, you won’t have to worry about your phone being damaged if it gets wet But Beware, as many makers don’t provide warranty services for water-damage.

A few phones, such as the Moto Z2 Force, go the extreme by having a shatterproof glass display. But at the very least, you should opt for a phone that has a Corning’s Gorilla Glass or Asahi Dragontrail glass protection, which should protect your device from short drops though a protective case will help with that, too Or if you don’t like the bulk of a Case you could opt for Skins from makers such as dbrand and or get their awesome product Grip.

5. Camera:

Nowadays we’ve reached the certain step of technological evolution where Smartphone cameras have developed beyond our imagination with advanced features and superb quality to compete with even DSLRs (Not in zooming though).
Almost all flagship smartphones since 2017 has dual-cameras with at least 12 megapixels, but there’s much more than that Mega Pixel count. Instead, pay attention to image quality, aperture, speed and features.

Example, the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X has impressive dual cameras on the back, offering a true 2x optical zoom and Portrait Mode for blurring out the background (i.e, for adding a bokeh effect). The iPhone X goes a step further with a TrueDepth feature on the front that enables Portrait mode.

But, the Google Pixel 2 offers a Portrait Mode without dual cameras, with the help artificial intelligence and advanced software to separate subject from background and creates the same effect with the rear and front cameras. But the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL’s low-light picture performance impresses us more. The phone has wide f/1.8 aperture (the lower the number, the wider the aperture), combined with Google's advanced HDR technology, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL outmatched the latest iPhones in indoor shots.

For video, pay attention not just to the resolution, but also the frame rate. 4K at 60 frames per second is considered best for smooth playback.
But the stability is the game, so look for lenses that has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) not Digital Image Stabilization (DIS). 

In short, follow these tips if superior camera is your need for a phone:

  • Opt for OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), not only DIS (Digital Image Stabilization).

  • Opt for lower Apertures for better low-light performance.

  • If you shoot at 4K, then check what frame-rates the phone offers.

Dual Camera setup are of different types:

1. Basic Dual sensors- Depth Sensor ( Primarily for blurring effect.)

2. Telephoto + Normal sensors(Primarily for 2x Optical Zoom.)

3. RGB + Monochrome Sensors(Separate B/W pictures, Higher Contrast & detail for more Crisp shots.)

4. Wide angle + Normal Sensor
(For Wide-angle effect)

Enquire about Shutter speed and check if the Camera App has better customizing option, should you require it.

6. Processor:

A capable processor inside a phone will result in a faster App-open time, smooth gameplay, shorter video and photo editing time and overall better & lag-free experience

Right now Snapdragon 845 SoC has the fastest processor. It has the best Gaming and VR experience with the added bonus of being very efficient (meaning longer battery life than previous Gen).

On the Apple's side,  Apple A11 Bionic is the best from iOS phones.

The Snapdragon 600 and 400 series powers midtier and budget smartphones, such as the Moto G5 Plus and Xiaomi Redmi 5 series. These chips will run most of the demanding games in Playstore well, but don’t expect it to be lag-free. Also light VR is only recommended for these.

Other Processors brands includes Huawei’s in-house Kirin series and Samsung’s Exynos series which are very capable chips but loses by a bit from Snapdragons 800 series chips.

7. RAM:

Perhaps the easiest aspect of choosing a phone, Try to choose a phone with at least 2GB of RAM for moderate day-to-day use.

Don’t go for phones with 1GB RAM as 2GB devices are now being aggressively priced which makes them the new norm for budget phones.  

For Premium flagship 4GB is standard and 6 GB or even 8GB is very common. 

8. Internal Storage:

Given that some games or movies can easily take up more than 1GB of storage — not to mention how many high-res photos and videos smartphone owners are capturing — it is highly recommended to choose responsibly if your phone does not have Expandable microSD storage.

The minimum on most premium phones these days is 32GB with 16GB on the budget side of the spectrum.

We recommend 64GB if you shoot a lot of photos and video and 128GB if you like to record 4K video and download a ton of demanding games.

A microSD card can help expand your storage. It's available on most Android phones, but Apple's phones don't offer this option.  

Nowadays, RAM configuration is usually bundled with storage so you might have to pay for the extra storage if you want more RAM.

For example, devices comes with 2GB RAM with 16GB internal storage, 3GB RAM with 32 GB and so on...

9. Battery Life:

Pretty much general rule: Don’t go for less than 3000 mAh of battery which is the standard.
But larger battery might be required to juice your phone if it has a larger screen with 18:9 aspect ratio display or a higher resolution panel.

10. Charging:

Fast Charging:

If you want to be able to juice your phone up in a hurry, check to see whether your phone offers fast charging.

For example, Google claims the Pixel 2 will give you 7 hours of power with just 15 mins of charging time. The latest iPhones also offer fast charging though it’s not included in the box. You will need to buy a separate USB-C power adapter (about $45) and a USB-C to Lightning adapter ($25).

11. Other Key Features 

Wireless Charging

It’s a feature which is only available on some flagship devices and is completely up to you if you need this or not.
Just remember this that a Metal back on the phone will not support Wireless charging, so if you want that sweet brushed Aluminium back... you might have to do without wireless charging.

Fingerprint vs. Facial Recognition Security

A fingerprint sensor makes it fairly easy to unlock your phone without having to enter a password or PIN.

Most of these are rapid fast, unlocking in milliseconds of touching the scanner.

But if you’re a member of a secret Criminal/Assassin Organisation which requires to remove your fingerprint, then your only option is a facial recognition, Iris scanner or good ol’ password or pattern (which might not be very secure in your line of work.)

iPhone X's Face ID calibration
Assuming that you don’t have an exact identical twin or a doppelganger from a parallel earth or if you’re not about to get a plastic surgery then Face ID will work fine for you.
It works in very well in sunlight and in dark is just a tad bit slower than Touch ID.

For people living in countries where Network Carriers offers discounts for buying their carrier locked version just make sure to enquire about the coverage and Reception quality.

I hope these knowledge I bestowed upon you about what to look for and what to avoid helps you to purchase the perfect phone for your money.

Feel free to leave any of your tips for buying a smartphone, in the comment section.

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