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CTECHSmartphonesWhat to look for when buying a smartphone

What to look for when buying a smartphone

Ah yes, it’s that time again. You are ready to change your smartphone. A smartphone is a personal device, and it is increasingly becoming more personal to users everyday. However, not every smartphone is built equally and not any smartphone will cater for our uses in everyday life. That said, here are some of the strategies I tell my friends about when they are looking for a new device.

Budget

This is one of the most important aspect of purchasing a smartphone. In most cases, we don’t want to overspend when buying a phone. Deciding on the most you are willing to spend on a smartphone will help narrow your choices. Generally there are three categories of smartphones in the world: Budget (from $40,000 and below,), Mid-Range ($40,000 to $100,000) and Flagship ($100,000 and up). Budget smartphones are usually low powered devices that takes​ care of basic needs such as calling, texting, light activities on social media and light gaming. They are inexpensive and tend to be good devices for the older generation or less tech savvy individuals. Mid-Range devices have more power and even rival some flagship devices. These are designed mainly for persons who are tech savvy but cannot afford to buy a current flagship. Some of these smartphones can even have flagship features and specs but are only classified as budget due to pricing (Example OnePlus 3T, Xiaomi Redmi Note series etc.). Last but certainly not the least, the flagships. These are the premier smartphones in the world. They have the best in specs, the latest in terms of System on a Chip (SoC) which greatly influence the performance of a device and its battery consumption, the latest in camera sensors, speakers, innovative features such as Edge Sense, Bixby, throwing away the headphone jack and much more (or less, in Apple’s case). Some smartphones in this category include the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, HTC U11, LG G6, and more to be announced at the time of writing. Of course there will be smartphones that, as they become older they fall into a lower category. Once you have identified your category we move on from there.

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Comparing devices

Now we get to the hard part. Having identified our price range, the next step is to identify between 3 to 5 devices within that category to see which best suits you. If there are five smartphones, try going to GSMAreana.com and do a review of their specs and eliminate at least two of the devices. That will leave you with at least 3 smartphones that are of interest to you. You can go on YouTube and check for reviews of each smartphone individually and if possible, side-by- side comparisons of each device. There are also sites that do in-depth reviews and analysis of the features of each device. Be sure to check the comments section of each device for unbiased reviews. A typical smartphone for me would have a bright screen, solid built, good software, good speakers and good camera. Any smartphone you pick will do at least two of those better than the other, so you must pick which is more important to you.

Repairs and Spare Parts

This part here is often ignored when choosing a smartphone. The cost of repairing a device is often high for the average Guyanese, especially those cracked screens from falls, damaged batteries and other such cases where a repair is needed to be effected. Flagships are understandably expensive to repair due to the nature of their high end hardware. Mid-Range smartphones are a bit less to repair than flagships and parts are usually more available in the country. Low Cost smartphones are the easiest to repair and usually the cheapest. However, for some of the lesser known brands, it would be hard to find replacement parts. Those buying through the online route must be mindful of this when choosing a device.  But no matter the category of device, brand or what not, it’s best to get a case and a protective screen just to be safe. Nevertheless, be mindful of this section when buying your devices.

Software and Security

As I said at the start, our smartphones are personal and getting more so each year. Thus the need to make sure that our device is secured physically and on the software aspect as well. The newer the smartphone, the more secure it is due to the fact that it will receive more updates from the day you buy it compared to a device that was manufactured a year ago. For iPhones the typical support period is between 4-5 years from date of manufactured. Androids are usually 2 years software support for each smartphone and for Nexuses/ Pixel device it would mean a third year of security patches. Why is this important you may ask? Consider that a simple ad online could tell a person the percentage of your battery. Still doesn’t cause an alarm? Well an ad can even point out (down to the street level) your current location. Now imagine if this information were to fall in the wrong hands. But that’s just the security side of things, let’s get a look at the software side. Currently, the latest iOS version is 10.3.2 while the latest version of Android is presently Nougat (7.1.2). Devices with either of these OSes will have more security and more features than in older OSes. Also, apps can have more feature running on these OS than the same apps running on older software. When choosing a device, one must consider that Budget smartphones have few to almost no security or software updates, while Mid-Rangers get updates after a few months after the flagships of the particular brand. Flagships usually get the latest security updates but, depending on the OEM the software update can be from within a week to around 3 months of the official release of the update. Of course this applies to Android devices only as Apple is known to have their devices up to date within a month.

What to avoid

Avoid smartphones that have carrier brandings as these not only take longer to install updates for the device but also may include apps that you will never use (Verizon branded devices are standouts in being guilty). These apps not only drain battery but eat up mobile data and RAM as well.

Also, be aware that there are some pretty good imitation smartphones that can fool almost anyone that is not paying attention. Check the brandings, logos and if possible the software to make sure that you have a legitimate device.

Look around. You don’t have to buy your device from the first person, store or retailer selling the smartphone you want. Some will be expensive and some will be cheaper, just don’t settle for the first you come across.

Even when you buy devices online always make sure to ask about warranty, what it covers and what it doesn’t. This may even save you money.

Wrapping things up

Picking your smartphone is something that should be done carefully, fully aware of what the device can and cannot do. Once you have selected your smartphone, do research on it to make sure that you get value for your money. I used these principles and I am very careful with the smartphone that I chose and I have not heard any complaints from my friends. Of course, this is not an exhaustible list either. You may need to adjust some conditions based on your needs as well. It must be noted however, that all of this must be some tedious tasks but I assure you readers, it’s not. That can even prove to be an exciting adventure for you and you may learn a few things along the way that may leave you feeling educated and informed. Happy Shopping!

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