A Simple Buying Guide to Buying Smartphones

If you are a tech enthusiast, it is easy to decide which smartphone you want. After all, being very well informed about technology, you know how to look at each phone and see even the most subtle difference from each one.
Unfortunately, not everyone is tech literate but almost everyone nowadays needs a smartphone. So if you are not a techie and is just one of the millions of casual users in the planet, here is a little guide on what you should be looking for when buying your next mobile phone:


First you have to decide on the size. There are phones with large screens like Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (5.5 inches), then there are medium screens like the iPhone 5 (4 inches), and then there are the small ones like the HTC One V (3.7 inches) and the previous iPhones from 1 up to 4S (3.5 inches). After that, there are the different types of screens. The most common is the LCD type that offers HD resolutions. The Retina display of the iPhone is actually an LCD screen as well, but with high PPI of 326 pixels per inch. Samsung, however, is using what is being billed as a replacement for LCD, which is AMOLED (active matrix organic light-emitting diode displays) that do not use backlights like the LCD. This phone is prominently marketed through the Samsung Galaxy S3. Do not even think of buying a smartphone with a screen that has a resolution less than 800×480.

Operating System

The leaders of course are Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. If you want simplicity and smooth user experience, the iOS and the iPhone is the best choice for you. The latest version is the iOS 6 and it features a better Siri and Facebook integrations. If you want flexibility and more customization, Android is the better choice and you get more choices as there are many manufacturers who use the OS. The latest version is the Jellybean, whichgives better navigation and significantly smoother usage. If you are going for Android, make sure that it at least have Ice Cream Sandwich OS and do not settle for Gingerbread or lower.  If you are tired of the iOS vs. Android arguments, Microsoft has released a new player in the Windows Phone 8. It has a fun tactile experience with supports for HD screens and NFC. Though you have to review your app needs as the Windows Apps Store is still no match for Apple and Google’s. There are still key applications like RingCentral that is missing from their lineup.


In the Android world, the Snapdragon processor is King. Their dual-core 1.5GHz chip is prominently featured in a lot of flagship phones including the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD and their quad-core chip is used in the new Nexus 4 phone. Apple has been producing their own chips and their latest is the A6. Most flagship phones feature at least dual-core processors at 1.5GHz. Combine these with at least 1GB of RAM for above-average use.


Most flagship phones feature an 8MP camera though the LG Optimus G’s Sprint model has a higher one at 13MP. Though megapixels are not the end all and be all of cameras, it is usually a good gauge of the image quality. Look for advanced features as well like ability to adjust resolution, brightness, etc. Look for different modes as well like Panoramic, HDR and Burst Shot. Manufacturers also have their own software to enhance images like Nokia’s PureView and HTC’s ImageSense.

Added features

Look for features that separate specific phones from the rest. There’s the wireless charging from Nokia and the S Pen for Samsung Galaxy Note. NFC and 4G coverage are now also becoming a must-have for smartphones as well.


In the US, you can get your phone at a lower price if you sign up for a plan with major carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. You will have to commit yourself to a contract (usually 2 years) if you go this route. The first three have the biggest 4G coverage as well, with Verizon being the largest. Just note that AT&T and Verizon have caps on their data plans but Sprint and T-Mobile are still offering unlimited data plans. You also have the option of going prepaid. You would have to pay for your device, but at least you are not tied down to a contract.