Thoughts On Buying A Smartphone

Smartphones are microcomputers that make phone calls. They are expensive, short-lived, and prone to breaking. Buying them is easy if you don’t think much about it. Maybe you just buy the latest iPhone and forget about it till the next time you need to buy a phone.

But even buying an iPhone is a complex decision. As of this writing, Apple sells eight different lines of iPhones. Over and above that is a choice of colors and storage capacities. And don’t forget the extended warranty option (AKA AppleCare+).

Maybe this is a bit more complex than you thought.

Here are some things to consider the next time you want to buy a smartphone:

  1. Use – where and how do you use your phone
  2. Build Quality
    • Back and side materials – glass or ceramic, metal, rubber/plastic
  3. Display
    • Size
    • Type – OLED, IPS, other
    • Brightness, especially outdoors in direct sunlight
  4. Overall size – does it fit in your hand, your pocket or pocketbook
  5. Cameras – megapixels: front and back, number of cameras
  6. Performance
    • Chip speed
    • RAM
    • Storage capacity, micro SD slot
    • Dual SIM slots
  7. Battery – how long between charges, how fast does it charge
  8. Costs – phone, extended warranty, carrier plan
  9. Other things to think about
    • Weight
    • Headphone jack – does it have one
    • Speaker quality and count
    • Fast charging
    • Wireless charging
    • Software update cycle – how long will the operating system be updated, how frequently
    • Buttons – are they in good places for you hands, are they easy to find by touch
    • Finger print reader location – front or back, in an easy to reach place
    • Other biometric log in devices – retinal scan, face scan, voice
    • Camera bump
    • Water resistance
    • One-handed use
    • Support / warranty – will the manufacturer honor their commitments
    • Resale value

The inspiration for the above list is from Marques Brownlee’s five categories for judging a smartphone: build quality, display, camera, performance, battery.