5 things to keep in mind before buying a smartphone


Are you worried to pick a smartphone in your budget? Afraid you don’t know enough details? We understand your concern and we know how everything gets confusing when the marketing team uses terms like AI Camera (Artificial Intelligence) and later you regret falling into their trap. Put your worries aside because you've come to the right place, for after reading the complete article you'll be able to figure out how to choose a phone which best suits your need, from a wide range, and that too on your own. Listed below are the divisions which judge a smartphone from every edge.

                                shallow focus photography of crowd taking video
1. Display:
No matter which particular area of a phone is a deal breaker for you, you will spend most of your time with this glass thingy here. Displays have evolved a lot since the start, from CRT in the 1900s to LCD's followed by LED's and to its successors. There are three terms you need to look after before checking this box.
Screen Resolution
Ppi (Pixels Per Inch)
Type of Display Panel
Screen Resolution: The numbers you see across this represent the number of horizontal and vertical pixels on the screen. The main screen resolutions which you must have heard at some point of your life are HD, FHD, QHD(2k), and UHD(4k).
HD (High Definition)
1280 * 720
FHD (Full HD)
1920 * 1080
QHD (Quad HD)
2560 * 1440
UHD (Ultra HD)
3849 * 2160

Roughly speaking, the bigger the number, the better is the clarity of text and images on our phone. The most common display resolution you'll see is FHD and as the resolution increases, price increases alongside. The high-end phones like Samsung S10+ offer a QHD display but, as the display resolution steps up, more power is consumed. So, often the manufacturers provide an option to lower the screen resolution to save some extra power. Sony Xperia XZ Premium is the only phone, which offers a UHD display and you'll be astonished to know that it was a big flop because of the high power consumption and overheating issues.
Ppi (Pixels Per Inch)
By knowing the resolution of your phone you can easily calculate how many pixels are there in one square inch of your display. More the pixels per inch, the sharper will be your display. Majority of the phones fall in the 300-400 ppi bracket.
Display Panel:
IPS LCD and AMOLED panels rule the smartphone industry in the current era. These are the display panels which you'll come across most of the time and both have their own set of pros and cons. LCD displays have a common backlit for all the pixels, which saves up a lot of power. AMOLED displays have an individual light for every pixel, so if any area of the screen wants to show the colour black, it simply turns off the led's in that area, showing true blacks. But in case of LCD's the common backlit is always on, so you'll never be able to see true blacks there. As the AMOLED screens have individual led's for every pixel it consumes more power than an LCD display. AMOLED displays offer more vibrant and vivid colours than the former one, and since the technology is quite new AMOLED displays are costlier than LCD and you'll only see them on a high-end phone. Further LCD display provided better brightness level than an AMOLED, so if you spend most of your time outdoors then you need to choose LCD over AMOLED.
IPS LCD:

Pros
Cons
Consumes less power.
Will never show true blacks.
Works fine even when you are outdoors.
Colours are not equally vivid and vibrant as compared to AMOLED.
Affordable.


AMOLED
Pros
Cons
Vibrant and sharp colours.
The brightness level is not that high as of an IPS LCD.
Can show true blacks.
Costlier.
Can be bent (Remember those curves on a Samsung S10+).
Consumers more power.

2.  Build Quality:
Most of us will never consider a phone if it doesn't feel good in our hand and the reason underlying is poor build quality. With companies competing for the top positions, every one of them is now producing phones that have metal or glass back. However, the quality still differs a lot. I will rarely suggest you choose a phone build with plastic even though it may look dope because it just doesn't feel good and it's not as durable as others.
There was a time when only the high-end smartphones like iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S series offered phones with aluminium back, but now even a phone at INR 10k gives you that. So how do you choose?
Most of the phones offer aluminium and glass at the back only, and they skip the side parts and after a while, you start noticing that the colour has been fading out because it is plastic. Also sometimes the coating at the back of the phone starts flaying off just because of minute scratches, make sure that the phone you are choosing doesn't have these fall through. Further, be careful about the position of cameras, camera bumps on the back (as it'll lead to scratches on the back camera if you don't use a cover), the notch on the front, etc. Generally, manufacturers put on some smart wallpapers on their device to hide the notch and rarely a few people notice it in the first glance.
                              people standing inside train station
3. Camera
One of the most important sections for me while choosing a phone is its camera and it is a deal breaker. No matter what you do, you always have to capture some beloved moments and it can be done perfectly only if your phone offers a great camera. With companies putting up to five cameras on the back, the competition isn't going to stop anytime soon. Many of you must have fallen in traps of terms like AI camera, but when you use these features, it just feels like any other phone. Hardware and software both play very significant roles in capturing an image and still, only a few companies focus equally on the software aspect and the rest of them just try to improve the hardware without working much on its software. Have you ever wondered why Google Pixel captures one of the best images in the market and that too with the help of only one camera at the back and the other companies can't achieve this feat even after putting five cameras on the back? Yup, the answer is software.
Whenever you look at the specs of a phone, the first term you'll come across the camera details is this term 'MP'. Usually, the advertisements say our --some cliché name-- offers a 13MP or sometimes even a 41MP camera, and this easily lures a lot of customers. MP stands for Mega Pixel and the only information it points at is the size of a picture a camera can capture. Just the size not the quality, not the sharpness, nor the dynamic range it tells nothing except the size of the picture. And my friends you shouldn't worry about this much until and unless you are going to print a photo for a billboard clicked through your phone's --another cliché name-- 13 or 41MP camera. By now, you must be asking, "What should we look for?".
In the hardware category, look for these terms: Aperture and OIS.
Aperture is one of the most important things to look after in the camera specs. It is generally represented as "f/1.8" or "f/2.0". Aperture represents the area through which light can come inside your camera. So remember, the lower is the aperture, the more the light will enter and the better will be the pictures. Therefore, "f/1.8" is better than "f/2.0".
OIS stands for Optical Image Stabilization. Do you remember the time when you try to click a picture and your hands are a bit shaky which results in a blurry picture? OIS can prevent it so that you can click amazing pictures even with those trembling hands.
Since the last two years, we've been seeing other terms like the monochrome sensor, wide angle and telephoto which sound so modern on the paper but, not every one of us understands them completely.
A monochrome sensor is often used alongside the main camera in many phones like the Huawei P9. This sensor can only click pictures in black and white, thus it gives you the true black and white picture. Further, it gives you photos with higher quality which when merged with the pictures clicked by the main camera give you some wonderful results.
Wide-angle Camera: This lets you take bigger pictures than usual because it has a much more open angle which increases its field of view.
A Telephoto camera offers the best features when coupled with the main camera. The chief advantage is that it provides optical zoom. Whenever you zoom a picture on a phone which misses this camera, you are actually zooming in a digital format which is equal to clicking a picture and zooming it afterward which results in degradation of quality. But, when you zoom using a telephoto camera you can think that your camera is actually moving forward to look at that object and you don't have to move a step, this eventually results in better quality images. The next big advantage it provides is a much better bokeh effect. It acts as a great depth sensor, which blurs the background pretty well when clicking pictures in portrait mode.
                             person holding smartphone showing ocean
4. Software:
Making a transition from a regular phone to a good phone requires the top-notch software and yet, only a few people jump into the details. The two popular OS (Operating System) offered on a phone are Android and iOS.
Android:
Pros
Cons
Customizable (open-source)
Consumes a lot of hardware resources.
Offered by a lot of manufacturers.
Not as much secure as an iOS.
Affordable. Starts from INR 5k.
Updates are dependent on the manufacturer.
Updates are dependent on a manufacturer.

Has the best voice assistant.


iOS:
Pros
Cons
Secure
Closed operating system. So, only offered by Apple.
Simple and easy to use.
Expensive.
Manages the hardware resources pretty well (consumes less RAM).
Non-customizable.
Updates are frequent.


If you plan to choose Android than you need to take care of a few extra things as well. Since Android is open source, so most of the companies don't use the stock version(the one you see in Google Pixel or the Android One phones) and they often add up layers of other user interfaces (UI) to stand out in the crowd and is often termed as a customized OS. For instance, the same phone running on Android P will look and feel different if manufactured by Oneplus (Oxygen OS), Xiaomi (MIUI), Huawei (EMUI) or Samsung (One UI). Customizing an OS has its own set of benefits and fallouts. Whenever a new Android version is released, the companies have to do some customizations over it and only then they can roll over the updates and this demands plenty of time. So, the updates are often delivered late. Further, if testing is not done properly like in the case of Xiaomi and other brands, the device slows over time as an extra load is put on the CPU because of that UI placed on the top of Android. It may hurt your sentiments to know that this is the reason I don’t prefer buying phones from Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi etc. Often companies put some pre-installed apps on their phone, termed as bloatware which cannot be removed by a user(without root), so look carefully before choosing a phone.
Personally, I prefer stock Android over any other because it doesn't carry any bloatware and the updates are delivered at regular intervals. Some manufacturers provide extra features with the help of their customized OS and sometimes they are worth it, like the Oxygen OS by Oneplus.
                                      selective photography of iPhone
5. Performance
The two terms we often come across while looking at the hardware specifications are RAM and the storage capacity. But, these two alone can't decide if the phone deserves to be in your pocket or not. Roughly speaking, the higher is the RAM the more apps you can keep in the background and the higher is the storage capacity the more the data you can store in your phone. One of the most important elements to look after is the CPU offered by your manufacturer. The term you'll encounter frequently is "1.4 GHz Dual Core" or something like this. The number before the term GHz(Giga Hertz) represents the speed of your processor, the bigger the better. Number of Cores represent the number of processes your CPU can process simultaneously, so the more the sweeter. So, in "1.4 GHz Dual Core" 1.4 is the speed of CPU and it has two cores.
The competition in the market is quite high, and a lot of companies’ manufacture great CPU's, out of which Apple tops the list even though it offers a slower speed and less number of cores on paper compared to the other processor (Exception). Qualcomm offers one of the best processors in Android, known as the Qualcomm Snapdragon.
With this much information, I think that you'll definitely able to choose a phone on your own. So, what are you waiting for?

- Sachin Kumar


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5 things to keep in mind before buying a smartphone 5 things to keep in mind before buying a smartphone Reviewed by EMN on April 18, 2019 Rating: 5

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