Things to Consider Before Buying a Device
Currently, there are hundreds of smartphones in the market; some are meant for just calling and messaging while others are multi-purpose. Few mobile phones have advanced camera capability while others are sold with gaming as their USP. There are huge-display bearing smartphones too which are suitable for executive who are always on the go and thus need a device that would not only serve as a mobile phone but also can act as a computing device.
In a nutshell, mobile phones can be categoriesed into different genres, each suitable for some purpose. But since each genre has several contenders, finding the one that would suit your requirement is certainly an arduous task. Thus to help you find the suitable phone as per your needs, we at The Mobile Indian tried to segregate different aspects of a mobile phone in this article.
Measured diagonally, the screen size of a mobile phone is the most important factor. Currently, smartphones are coming with screens ranging from 2.4 inch to 6.5 inch. Below is a general segregation of the smartphones on the basis of their screen sizes and their appropriateness for you.
Less than 3 inches: Go for it if they have a physical keypad too, else neither you could enjoy the touchscreen benefits nor the fruits of a keypad.
3 to 4 inch: screen based smartphones are decent for the average user but don’t go for it if you are looking to play games a lot or to do emailing and checking documents.
4-5 inches screen: Smartphones with 4-5 inch screen size are considered as the best as they are neither too big nor too small.
5 inch and bigger: screen bearing smartphones are really bulky and tend to have lower battery back up. Go for these if you are comfortable carrying a bulky device all around but many prefer such big devices as they find these as a replacement to their notebooks!
There are various types of keypad which serve various purposes.
Alpha Numeric: It is not very common to smartphones and are traditionally found in older and features phones. Typing on such keypads are very tiresome and time consuming
Half Qwerty: Though considered better than alpha-numeric keypads, these too are becoming extinct and are found in few feature phones
Physical Full Qwerty: This is the most popular keypad form where each button carries one word thus making it easier to type.
Touchscreen: With increasing size, most smartphones these days come with touchscreen keypads which can be a full Qwerty one or an alpha numeric one – you can switch between them at will. Some advanced touchscreen keypad applications also claims to make typing faster by recognizing your typing pattern.
Battery life or talk time is important for any smartphone user, as some batteries hold a charge longer than others.
Li-Ion & Li-Po: Usually smartphones these days come with either Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer battery. The later considered to a bit advanced; for a given mass, the Li-Po battery said to be sleeker and hold more charge than their Li-Ion counterparts.
Removable/Non-removable: Smartphones with non-removable battery are tend to be sleeker than those with removable ones. Also, non-removable battery means there is extra security as the back cover would be more secure and there is less chance of water getting into the phone and damaging it. However, in case of removable battery based smartphones, you can take out the battery to restart the phone – a facility that is not possible in handsets with non-removable battery. Also in the long run, you cannot change batteries in non-removable battery based smartphones.
Size- Size of the battery does matter - the bigger the battery, higher would be the running time of the smartphone. However, with increasing size, weight of the smartphone would also increase considerably.
If you are buying a smartphone with 5.5 inch or bigger screen, look for a battery that should be above 2500 mAh. The bigger, the better it would be.
Handsets with 5-5.5 inch screens should have 1500 mAh battery atleast
Similarly, handsets with 4-5 inch screen must have a battery of not less than 1200 mAh
Talktime-It tells you how much the smartphone can be used with one full charge. It is differentiated into 3G and 2G talktimes that denotes how much it can be used continuously on the respective networks. However, you should also check its video playback and music playback time.
Standby Time-It denotes for how long the smartphone can hold the charge while not in use. This is very important while you are travelling as in those times you may not get a chance to charge the phone in between.
A smartphone can have a single SIM, dual SIM or can even have three SIM slots which though is quite rare these days. Choose the smartphone on the basis of your requirement.
Besides, watch out for micro SIM and mini SIM and full SIM slots.
2G: Many low cost smartphones these days come with 2G only connectivity which mean that you cannot use your SIM connectivity to access 3G.
3G: However, in dual SIM slot bearing smartphones, usually one SIM is meant to access 3G network while the other is meant for 2G networks. There are few smartphones though in which both SIM slots can be used to access 3G networks
4G/LTE: Though many operators set to launch their 4G or LTE services in India by the end of this year, there are currently no handsets in the market to support the 4G network. Note that 4G handsets launched in other countries are not meant for India as in our country apart from Videocon all other operators are set to offer the FD-LTE version of 4G while in most other international markets like the US and the European countries TD-LTE version is being launched.
There are various other connectivity options mentioned below:
WiFi- With this feature you can connect your smartphone to a nearest WiFi hub to access internet or to share files
WiFi Hotspot- It allows you to create a WiFi hub and to share your mobile phone internet with others
Bluetooth- It is another kind of wireless technology using which you can exchange data over short distances with other Bluetooth enabled devices without using wires
USB port- Usually micro USB ports are found in smartphones using which you can transfer files from your smartphone to your PC or vice-versa quickly
NFC- Near Field Communication or NFC a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few inches.
HDMI- With this you can connect your smartphone with your HDMI TV via an HDMI cable. However, no smartphone as of now come with full HDMI port for size concern but many these days come with MHL port which allows you to connect the device with the HDMI TV via a MHL cable. Few also come with mini or micro HDMI port
DLNA- Digital Living Network Alliance or DLNA allows you to wirelessly connect your smartphone to an HDTV or other DLNA-enabled device. This is ideal for sharing movies, videos, and pictures on your HDTV. FM receiver- With this you can listen to FM radios
GPS- To take full advantage of maps applications like Google Maps and Map My India, your smartphone should have GPS or Global Positioning System that helps you accurately pin-point your current
If you are planning to use your smartphone as your first choice of camera, then give due attention to various features mentioned below:
Resolution- It is usually measured in megapixels. A higher number of pixels means the camera’s light sensor has more receptors per given area, which results in higher-quality images.
Rear camera: Currently even the cheapest smartphone come with atleast 2 megapixel rear camera (the highest being 41 megapixel of Nokia Lumia 1020). However, a 5 megapixel rear camera is considered as the bare minimum and anything below that is not for photography.
Front camera: These are meant for self-portraits as well as video chatting. For the later even a VGA or 0.3 megapixel rear camera is sufficient but for decent self-portraits pictures you would need atleast a 2 megapixel unit.
LED Flash – It is necessary for close low light photography. Moreover, double LED flashes is much better than single LED flash
3D Capture – Few smartphone with dual rear camera can capture 3D videos.
Autofocus – This feature allows the smartphone to automatically judge which subject in the frame of view to focus on. Some cameras include face detection that helps with taking pictures of people in groups. Thus it is a highly desired camera feature in any mobile phone.
Burst Mode – This will allow you to capture a short, rapid fire burst of photos over a few seconds. Thus it is very useful when you want to capture images of a sport event or of something moving
Zoom- There are two types of zoom – optical and digital. Most smartphones come with digital zoom which is basically an in-camera adjustment where the outside of a picture are cropped. However new genre camera smartphones like Galaxy S4 Zoom come with optical zoom where lens is adjusted to take a close picture of the shot. Thus optical zoom is better than digital zoom.
Image Stabilization- This feature reduces blurring associated with the motion of a camera during exposure.
Panorama – It is a feature which stitches multiple images together to create a wide, panoramic image.
Sound & Shot – New age devices have this property which allows a phone to record a video with sound bytes in the background.
Video Recording- Most smartphones can record videos with their rear camera but check out at what rate they can do so. The best rate so far for smartphones is 30 frames per second. Note higher the frame rate better the video would be to watch. Also check whether the front camera can record videos or not.
No of Cores: Speed and multi-tasking level of any computing device including smartphones is directly proportional to the number of cores its processor has. So a dual core processor is expected to be faster than a single core processor and so forth. Currently smartphones come with single core, dual core, quad core, and even octa core processor (Samsung Galaxy S4, Note 3). If you are buying a phone for gaming go for quad core or octa core phones. Dual core phones can also handle most available mobile phone games.
Clock speed- It is the speed at which the processor could execute instructions. Naturally higher the clock speed the better the performance of the phone would be
Type- You would come across a range of processors like Snapdragon, Nivdia, Intel, Mediatek etc – each of these processors have their own disadvantage and advantages. Mediatek chipsets are cheaper and you would find these in most low cost handsets while Nvidia’s Tegra processor are considered as best as of now for gaming.
RAM- Smartphones like any computing device need random access memory to execute programs. Thus higher the RAM amount, the smoother performance would be. However, in smartphones you cannot upgrade RAM as you can do in computers
256 MB- This is the bare minimum for a smartphone. Devices with 256 MB RAM are slower and cannot do multi-tasking.
512 MB- A well-optimised smartphone can handle mild games and do multi-tasking (2-3 programs at a time) but this is considered as only the average amount of RAM one should go for in a smartphone
1 GB and above- For current level of computing in a smartphone, 1 GB and above amount of RAM is sufficient. But go for 1.5 GB and above RAM for ultra-smooth performance.
Many apps cannot be installed on external SD card. Thus internal storage is so important. Most smartphones these days come with 4 GB internal storage while the maximu is 32 GB.
You can upgrade the smartphone’s memory by inserting a micro SD card slot. In general, smartphones come with 32 GB external card slot but many high end devices offer up to 64 GB of storage slot.
Ambient Light Sensor- It detects the amount of light around the user and automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen.
Proximity Sensor- It senses when you hold the phone against your face and disables the touch screen so you don't accidentally hang up during your call
Accelerometer- It detects movement and is thus required for screen rotation and gaming
Gyro sensor- It senses the angular momentum and is essential for some games
Scratch-Resistant Glass: It protects one of the most important parts of your smartphone.
Water Proof: Water proof mobile phones can be immersed under water. Usually, mobile phones get IP (International Protection Marking) code underling their resistance against water. Any device with IpX7 (X stands for their dust resistance capability) or above rating can be immersed under water.
Water Resistant: Phones with water resistance can withstand splashes but won't survive if immersed under water. Many devices come with water repelling coating which are considered as water resistant. However, officially water resistant devices get IPX6K to IPX0 rating (X stands for their dust resistance capability) for their water repelling ability.
Dust Proof: Mobile phones are classified in a scale of 0-6 depending upon the level of protection against dust. Usually, the first digit in IP rating (ex. IP67) indicates the level of protection. For instance, if a phone is gets IP67 rating it means the phone's internals are fully protected from dust.
Shock proof: Handsets sometime get some extra layers of protection which ensure minimum shock to their internals. These handsets can withstand falls from certain heights or can still work even if get hit by a certain measure of force. Such devices are suitable for people working in industrial or certain risky jobs where the mobile phones are susceptible to damages.