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Selecting a cell phone can feel overwhelming given the wide variety of options. If you need to pick a cell phone, stop and consider several factors before moving forward. First, assess your personal needs. When and where will you be using your phone? Do you require a smartphone, or could you get by with something more basic? Then, look into special features. Depending on how you plan to use your phone, you may want things like a high-quality camera or solid screen resolution. Lastly, choose the right carrier based on your budget and needs.
Your smartphone processor, also known as the chipset or the SoC, is the component that is responsible for just about everything functioning on your smartphone. It is essentially the brain of the system, and most of these processors also come equipped with AI capabilities that essentially make your smartphone as ‘smart’ it is today.
To help you with your decision-making, here are a few handy tips on factors you should consider:
Battery: Are you the kind of user who is likely to have multiple apps open simultaneously? Do you see yourself being a heavy consumer of video-streaming apps or playing games? Heavy online usage tends to drain batteries faster. If you belong to this category of users, then it is better to go for a phone with a long-lasting battery.
Memory: Phones have two kinds of memory – Random Access Memory (RAM) and Read-Only Memory (ROM). RAM, along with the processor of your phone determines the speed of the phone and its ease of operation. ROM is what most people refer to as storage. This is the memory that is used to store the OS, apps, and all the videos, photos, and songs that you want to store on the phone.
Therefore, it stands to reason that phones with higher RAM will be faster and those with higher ROM will have more storage. An average user should be happy with 2 GB RAM and 16 GB ROM. But if you are a heavy user, go for a phone with at least 3-4 GB RAM and 64GB ROM. To extend your ROM you can also use a micro SD memory card, but remember, apps that are stored and run from memory cards tend to be slower.
Camera: There is a lot of hype surrounding in-built cameras on phones with brands trying to outdo each other by offering more megapixels. Don’t let this fool you. By itself, a camera with more megapixels doesn’t result in better images. Apart from megapixels, good quality photos are a function of factors like ISO levels, aperture as well as speed of autofocus. If you are likely to take a lot of pictures, then go for a phone with a 12 or 16 MP camera that has an aperture of f/2.0 or lower, for good results even in low light. If your use of the camera is not likely to be heavy, a phone with an 8-12 MP camera and aperture of f/2.2 should be fine for you.
Processor: Much like smartphone cameras, there is a lot of hype about processors with jargons like quad-core, octa-core, Snapdragon, MediaTek, and so on. Here is a simple thumb rule. Look at the processing speed that is expressed in terms of GigaHertz (GHz). The higher the speed, the faster the processor. If you are going to do a lot of photo/video editing or play online games and stream videos, opt for a faster processor.
Display: A phone with a 5.5 – 6-inch HD or QHD display is usually an ideal option. This will allow you to enjoy a rich media experience while being easy to carry in your pocket or purse.
Operating System: There are only two Operating Systems (OS) to choose from – Android or iOS. If you opt for iOS, then you are by default opting for an Apple iPhone. All other smartphone makers function on the Android OS. But this also comes in a confusing array of names and versions. Often the Android OS is tweaked by manufacturers to add features that could also result in bloatware, thereby slowing down the phone. So, try the phone out before making the decision.
Cost: As mentioned earlier, smartphones come at price points that vary greatly. Obviously, prices tend to go up as you go higher up the value chain in terms of processor speeds, memory, camera, and display.
On a final note, a few other things that might be important to you now or down the road may include such things as; Does it have stereo speakers? High-end phones like the iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G, which means you hear audio coming from the top and bottom (or left and right if you’re watching a movie and playing games.) Does it support wireless charging? This can be convenient if you want to just plop your phone on a pad at your desk. Does it have a headphone jack or will you need to use Bluetooth headphones or an adapter with your wired headset? Does it support newer 5G networks? U.S. wireless carriers are going to roll out faster networks this year, which means you’ll be able to download apps, games, files, and more at much faster speeds. If you want a bit of future-proofing, consider that, too.