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11 Tips for Buying a Perfect Smartphone

Hey there! Is your current phone lagging like crazy? Are you having regular battery and charging issues? Is your phone turning off and on on its own? Has the company stopped software updates for your phone?

Okay now that we have established that your current phone is no longer capable of serving you, you need a new one, right?

No?

Why else, would you be lurking in this article titled “Guide to your next smartphone” if not?

Moving on, you might have taken a gentle peek at the smartphone market of today. And you probably have been inundated with the sheer number of products.

Well don’t worry, we can help you select the best from the rest. If you follow the simple steps given below.

Smartphone buying Guide

(Image from Hometop.in)

1)Don’t get carried away with the price: Fix a budget but keep a slight leeway of Rs.1000-3000 if you are getting a much better device. Example: Picking the Mi A1 (Rs.13999) over the Redmi Note 4 (Rs.11999) will give you a better screen, better audio, better software and a better much much camera. But buying an Honor 9i (Rs. 17999) over the Mi A1 will give you a slightly better camera. But you will lose out on performance, software, and battery.

2) Know what you need the phone for: Every mobile phone user is different, some prefer the phone just for work calls and email, while some need it for gaming and photography. Look for what a phone is good at, a phone targeted at selfie users is useless if you are a businessman. Similarly buying a Pixel XL and using it just for making calls and chatting is a huge waste of money.

3) Don’t buy products the instant they were launched: This is something we always tell our audience at Hometop. Don’t worry we are not telling you to buy old stuff. Extremely new products may have initial bugs and a few manufacturing issues. Wait for detailed reviews from people and tech reviewers before making that purchase.

4) Understand the specifications and don’t buy into the hype: 21 megapixels moonlight camera, Highest benchmark score, Stunning low light photos, 7-day battery life. These are just a few marketing hypes used by smartphone manufacturers and may not always be true. Never taken anything the manufacturers says at face value. Dissect what they say, look for the little asterisk saying under test conditions and always refer to popular review sites and users who have used that phones.

Now that you know the basics let’s look at which specifications are important for you and which are not.

5) Software: Notice how we said software and not Operating System? That’s cause if you are reading this article you are going to pick an Android phone. Besides, you don’t get options on an Apple iPhone. You simply pick the latest one.

Android, however, has multiple different versions.

Google Pixel’s ship with the purest, most unadulterated version of Android. They are updated the first and regularly by Google themselves.

Nokia, Motorola & Lenovo ship a mildly customized version of Android that includes only a few extra apps, this means even they can be updated fairly quickly.

Xiaomi, Honor and a few more manufacturers use customized android with a ton of features that masks most of the stock android. These are updated the slowest but are updated.

So it’s really a case of what you prefer, the latest Android or the most number of features.

6) Screen: Screen size is a personal choice, make sure you pick the size according to your needs. The average screen size today is around 5.5 inches, which is good for your gaming and binge-watching needs. Don’t pick a small size, like 5 inches or less if you need to watch movies, also don’t pick a 6.5-inch screen if you are just going to use it for basic daily tasks.

Screen resolutions used today are HD (1280 x 720), Full HD (1920 x 1080) and UHD (2540 x 1440). UHD resolution is rare and found only on high end phones, while Full HD is common even in under Rs.10,000 phones. HD resolution is limited to low end phones only.

A trend today is 18:9 screens that give more screen size in the form factor of a smaller phone.

Screen size and resolution apart, always look for IPS LCD screens (For good brightness and colors)  or OLED/ AMOLED screens (For truer blacks and vivid colors).

Whatever phone you buy, make sure it has Gorilla Glass protection. This will protect your screen from scratches and drops.

7) Processor: The most common processor makers are Qualcomm (Snapdragon), MediaTek, Huawei (Kirin), Samsung (Exynos). The thing about processors is understanding what you need it for. If you are a light user snapdragon 435 (or an equivalent from other companies) is sufficient. If you game a lot, the minimum you should consider is a Snapdragon 625 or Mediatek P25. If you are hoping for the best performance everywhere then look at the Snapdragon 835 or Kirin 970 or Exynos 8895.

8) Camera: Selecting a phone with the best camera based on specifications can be a little tricky. Make sure your shortlisted phones have good specs but always cross check with reviews from people to see if those specs actually translate into good clicks.

Dual camera is the latest trend now and you will get the following types of dual cameras:

  • Normal Camera + Blur camera: This configuration will only give you blurred background (bokeh) effects. Found on the Honor 7x and Honor 9i.
  • Normal Camera + Wide angle: This implementation will give you the ability to take extreme wide angle photos. Found on LG V30+ and Moto X4
  • Normal Camera + Monochrome Camera: Lets you take bokeh as well as true black and white pictures. Found in the Honor View 10
  • Normal Camera + Zoom camera: Lets you take bokeh shots as well as optically zoomed photos. Found on the Mi A1

Pick the implementation that you will prefer. Also, Megapixels are something tricky, having a lot of megapixels will give you sharp images but you will suffer in low light, so it’s a case of compromising between low light and sharpness.

A few things you must look for is dual led flash (To light up dark scenes), optical image stabilization (Good for low light and steady shots), manual camera controls and wide aperture lens (f/2.0 or lower).

Coming to video even mid-range phones support 4K video capture. But look for the video quality before deciding. A few phones have support for HD/ Full HD slow-motion capture too.

9) RAM & Storage:  Running apps are stored on RAM, more RAM means more apps can be opened. The number of running apps is also determined by the software. Few custom android versions allow lesser apps to open in the background. A minimum of 3GB is enough if you use your phone for Light gaming & Web browsing.4GB  and above is useful if you use video editing, heavy gaming etc.

Storage will determine how many apps, music, movies, and images you can store. A minimum of 32/64GB of internal storage is common now. Make sure to check if a phone supports SD cards or has a dedicated sd card slot if you want to increase your space in the future. Always buy phones with higher internal storage as that storage chip is faster than memory cards.

10) Battery: More battery capacity is always good, but the battery life will also depend on your usage. Look for phones with a 3000mAh battery or more to get a decent battery life.

Make sure you pick a phone with fast charging especially if it has a large battery. This will help you juice up much faster.

11) The little things: Given today’s cut-throat competition smartphone manufacturers may often skip some features to save costs. Here is a list of things you must check and see if your next phone has.

  • Sensors: Ambient Light (Dims/ Brightens your screen), Proximity (Turns off screen during phone calls), Accelerometer & Gyroscope (Used for gaming and VR), Compass (To find magnetic north)
  • Dual/ Stereo speaker: If you are an audiophile do make sure if your next phone has good speakers. A few phones come with custom DACs that support high-end headphones too.
  • Dedicated sd card plus dual sim slot: A lot of phones use hybrid sim slot, that allows the use of 2 sim cards or 1 sim and one sd card. If you need all 3 please confirm before buying.
  • Fingerprint Sensor: A fingerprint sensor adds security to your phone and allows you to unlock it with your fingerprint only.
  • Front camera flash: Will be helpful for taking selfies during night
  • NFC: If you use NFC tags/ NFC pay make sure your next phone has it.
  • Waterproofing: Few phones come with water resistance and full waterproofing. Check for IP ratings to see the level of water resistance.
  • Headphone Jack: If you have a lot of headphones having the conventional 3.5mm jack make sure your next phone still has the headphone jack.
  • USB OTG: This features lets you connect a pendrive, hard disk, mouse and keyboard or any USB device to your phone.

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