It’s a familiar story: Your old cell phone has done its duty, and now it’s high time for a new smartphone. The market is bursting with cutting-edge devices that are constantly outdoing themselves in the features department – and that are considered better than everything else. Bigger display, better camera, the best operating system … The list goes on. But how do you go about picking the right one from the chaotic plethora of devices out there? Here are a few tips to get the most out of your chosen smartphone.
The operating system
Opinions tend to differ sharply. Apple iOS or Android? Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. But if you are to believe the devotees, there is only one true system that trumps everything else. The truth, however, lies somewhere in between.
The advantage with Android is that it is much more open than iOS. It has a home screen with launchers that is freely configurable. There are also loads of options to personalize the keyboard, app icons, and notifications, etc. External apps that aren’t listed on the official app store can also be downloaded as programs in the form of APKs (Android Package Kits). This can be really handy if you want to use apps from different countries that are unavailable in your country’s app store. That said, you need to be careful when doing so as there are some malicious apps out there.
The main disadvantage with Android is that you get far fewer regular updates than with Apple. When a new Android version is announced, sometimes months can pass until one is released for smartphones. This is mainly down to the fact that manufacturers still check and modify the raw Android version themselves. The wait isn’t as long if you go for one of Google’s own smartphones, like the Pixel.
It’s easy to explain the advantages of iOS: The system is closed, has fewer weak points, and is simple to use. For newbies in particular, this makes it easier to get to grips with a smartphone. There are also regular updates, released directly after they are announced. However, one downside of iOS is precisely this simplicity. There are hardly any options to customize the device. You also have to put up with Apple’s way of doing things to some degree. Furthermore, you may have read in the media recently that Apple deliberately slows older devices to ensure stable operation, apparently. But experts say it’s just a way to get customers to buy a new iPhone.
There are other smartphone operating systems besides Android and iOS. These include BlackBerry OS, Windows Mobile, and Ubuntu. One thing is clear with these, however: Developers of new apps are simply not focusing on these operating systems. Instead, they are developing almost exclusively for Android and iOS.
Besides the operating system, the display is one of the key questions when it comes to choosing a new smartphone. The manufacturers are all trying to outdo each other in terms of size, resolution, and display technology. It’s worthwhile taking a closer look at the topic.
Before buying, the first question you should ask yourself is what will you be using your smartphone for. If you view pictures or videos frequently, a large, high-res display is definitely best. However, this also has its downsides as the large surface is more prone to breakage and scratches. If you’re after a great, high-res display, it’s hard to beat Apple and Samsung’s flagship devices. That said, you will of course have to fork out a bit more for them. If the resolution doesn’t really matter, cheaper devices from Honor, Asus, or LG are more than capable.
Before we go any further: It’s worthwhile backing up all your data, photos, and videos using cloud services such as iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. irrespective of which operating system you use. This is the only way to be sure your information is safe should you ever lose your device accidentally or through theft.
If you’ve got a lot of apps on your smartphone, and if you like taking tons of photos, you’ll soon notice you’re running out of storage space. Most smartphones come with at least 32GB of internal memory, which is more than enough for normal use. But if you want more memory, you’ll either have to invest in a more expensive model or get an Android smartphone with expandable memory. Just by using an SD card, you can easily increase your storage capacity to over 100GB.
Like taking snapshots at family events or photos of the night sky? Or perhaps you’re more into taking the perfect selfie or just grabbing quick shots? When it comes to the camera, it’s also worth thinking of what you want to do with it.
Generally speaking, the cameras on flagship devices like the iPhone 8 or Samsung Galaxy S8 are so good that even professionals use them to grab stunning shots when on the move. So even for the standard user, they are more than up to the job. If your needs aren’t as demanding though, a mid-range smartphone is perfectly adequate.
Depending on your preferences, there are a whole range of other factors you’ll need to consider. If you’re outdoors a lot or do extreme sports, you should think about a ruggedized smartphone. While their technical specs won’t blow you away as much as those on the latest devices, these smartphones are robust and able to withstand quite a hammering.
If you travel frequently or want to separate your work and private life, keep an eye out for a cell phone with dual sim capability. These let you use two sim cards in the same device, so you can receive calls on two different numbers and also make calls using either of them.
Mobile payment is catching on slowly but surely. If you can see yourself paying with your smartphone, you should make sure you go for one with NFC. Thankfully, most Android models and some Apple devices that ship with iOS 11 or later come with this.
Before buying a smartphone, make a short list of what you want. It’s even worthwhile switching from your usual manufacturer to a completely different one.