Few years ago mobile devices wasn’t all that important for most people, you would go to store, choose a small, handsome phone, buy it and that was all.
Nowadays we live in the world of smartphones.
Hard to believe but, there are thousands of different smartphone models from nearly one hundred smartphone manufacturers.
And as from only cell phones, modern phones have evolved to smart phones and replaced a lot gadgets including music players, handheld gaming consoles, GPS devices, cameras and many other, now it isn’t as easy to choose right phone for you as it was years ago.
So here is your ultimate walkthrough into choosing the best smartphone that can satisfy you!
The first thing you should do is to think about what is most important for you.
- Do you want to take a lot of great pictures and easily browse your favorite social networks?
- Or maybe you want to play latest games while listening music and downloading new apps in background?
- Or maybe you just want a good phone for general use with durability of a stone and battery life of old Nokia?
After you have your requirements prioritized, it’s time to choose Operating System(OS).
You have to choose from Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS and Microsoft’s Windows Phone a.k.a WP.
If you want a smartphone where you’re in control, where you can change literally anything anytime you want and use it for everything, then Android is right choice.
Also, for mobile gamers, Android is better choice as it let’s you easily install APKs, means you can download any app or game outside of official app store, letting you get games not available in Google Play and play games with cool mods.
If you want a fast smartphone with good & simple interface and more security where you don’t need to think about customization, then iOS is good choice for you.
In most cases, iPhones are faster than Android phones and gives you more security from malware apps.
Note: don’t make mistake, if you’re low on budget don’t buy iPhone as old iPhones are slower than same priced Androids, anything below iPhone 7 is a bad choice for 2018 & beyond.
As for Windows Phones, I really don’t recommend choosing it in most cases.
Microsoft has admitted officially, WP is dead and it will no longer receive any new features, only security updates and bug fixes.
Also, WP lacks many apps and games.
Still, if you’re very low on budget, buying Windows Phone 8/10 device instead of 512Mb RAM Android phone might be a good choice.
Now that you know what OS is right for you, all you need is to think about hardware.
Screen – Face of your smartphone
While choosing smartphone with good screen you need to look at 3 main factors:
- Screen size
- Screen technology
- Screen resolution & PPI
Screen size is more personal choice than technical, however remember few things:
- Screen size in inches is a diagonal size, so two same inch screens may have quite different with and height.
- The bigger screen is, the bigger resolution it needs for good picture quality, also it requires more battery and CPU/GPU power.
- As most smartphones nowadays are 5 inch or more and developers optimize apps for such sizes, picking up something below 4.5 inch is not great idea.
Screen technology is quite important factor.
There are two maim screen technologies: old traditional LCD and new AMOLED.
AMOLED screens looks more beautiful and colorful, delivering better but less realistic colors than LCD.
Big disadvantage of AMOLED screens is it’s durability.
For AMOLED screens “screen burn” – transparent black dots are quite common. And if you drop you phone often, it’s nearly guaranteed.
Another issue with AMOLED is loss of quality over time, screen will look much less colorful and sharp after 1-2 years than when it was new.
LCD screens also loose some quality over time but it’s really slightly less compared to AMOLED.
As for LCD, there are some major LCD types like TTF, IPS…
TTF screens require slightly less battery power compared to other two, however it’s less sharp for HD & above resolutions and is usually used for older screens with below HD resolution.
IPS has better quality and is often used with high resolution, but also requires more resources like battery & CPU power.
Screen resolution is another very important factor for display quality.
While more pixels give you better quality, it also needs more battery power and stronger CPU & GPU.
Try not to buy smartphone with resolution less than 720x1280px, HD.
Ideally you should buy smartphone with Full HD resolution, 1080×1920.
2K and 4K screens are usually too much for a smartphone unless it’s “phablet” and comes with 6.5 inch+ screen size.
Most humans’ eyes can’t see difference between Full HD and 2K/4K resolutions on 5-6 inch screens.
More resolution = smaller pixels = better picture quality.
That’s right but there is an interesting factor, the bigger screen is in size, the more pixels it needs to maintain the quality.
So, basically, one small size screen with 720×1280 resolution may have better quality than much bigger screen with 1080×1920 resolution because bigger screen needs bigger, or more pixels.
That’s where PPI – Pixel Per Inch comes im handy, it does not tell you total screen resolution, but amount of pixels per one inch.
So if one screen has bigger PPI number than other, definitely, it has more quality picture display.
Camera – Eyes of your smartphone
The most common mistake I see people make while choosing camera is looking at MegaPixels.
MegaPixels does not define camera quality
MP is simply picture resolution, how big picture can be without losing quality.
If you compare 8Mp camera picture and 41Mp camera picture on a small size screen you will see no difference at all, but if you compare them on a large 8K monitor you’ll see 8Mp picture has lost some quality while 41Mp picture looks still great.
But we don’t take pictures for billboards with smartphone camera, right? So you do not need to worry about megapixels much, you can freely choose any camera with 8Mp or above, however 12Mp or 16Mp would be better for latest smartphones.
While choosing camera what you actually want to look at is sensor size, lenses, zoom size and software features like autofocus, smile and face detection, HDR…
CPU, GPU, RAM – Brain and muscles of your smartphone
If you need smartphone with decent performance, these three hardware elements are extremely important.
Also, better quality camera and screen needs more powerful CPU & more importantly, GPU.
CPU stands for Central Processing Unit, or as most people call it, processor.
It’s responsible mostly for speed of your smartphone.
For modern smartphones, octa-core CPU architecture is the best choice, however quad-core is also quite good if you’re on a budget.
For oder devices, dual-core isn’t also bad, but try to avoid single-core CPUs at all cost.
As for CPU manufacturers, there are several major manufacturers you need to be aware of:
- Qualcomm’s Snapdragon, is oldest and one of the best.
- MediaTek(MTK) provides entry-level cheap CPUs, still not bad!
- Intel may be king in PC CPUs, but on mobile market it’s not very close to the throne, in fact, Qualcomm may be a bit better.
- Samsung’s Exynos is also good and fast CPU series, making worthy opponent for Qualcomm.
- Huawei’s Kirin CPUs are fast, good quality but still below Qualcomm, but ahead of MTK, consider it as a cheap & good option.
In modern hardware, GPU is part of CPU, all together – SoC – System on Chip.
GPU is specific type CPU only aimed for graphical information calculations.
Your phone needs good GPU for better quality in games and more smooth gameplay.
There are several common GPUs you should know about:
- Tegra has most powerful GPUs but is very less common due to it’s high price.
- Adreno is good and common option for good performing GPU.
- PowerVR isn’t also bad choice, but not as good as Adreno or Tegra.
- Mali GPUs are also quite common, latest versions of Mali GPUs works well but older versions aren’t all that good, I would recommend Adeno and PowerVR over Mali.
RAM is what lets CPU to be fast and don’t take ages for quick reading and writing of necessity information.
The more RAM you have, the more apps you can run at same time, or in background.
How about listening music while downloading a movie, at the same time installing new app and playing cool game?
- For iOS and WP devices, 1Gb RAM is quite ok. Android will work with 1Gb RAM but will not have great performance.
- 512Mb RAM is too few for Android, and low but still acceptable for iOS & WP.
- 2Gb RAM or more is enough for iOS/WP, for Android it’s good starting point.
- 3Gb RAM is enough for Android for most cases.
- 4Gb RAM is a bit more than enough for Android, and 6/8Gb is just not needed yet.
That’s it! Now you have good understanding of how hardware and software affects your experience!
Now you can confidently take a look at different options and choose the best, most suitable smartphone for you!