At a time when Australians increasingly rely on technology for banking, shopping, and staying in touch with loved ones, smartphones are no longer the luxury items they once were. But with so many options in the market, how do you select the right handset and plan for your needs?
Answering these questions will help you decide which features are most important so that you can spend money wisely.
What kind of smartphone are you looking for?
When deciding which handset to get, there are several factors worth considering, including:
- Price – Apple and Samsung are two of the biggest names in the market but you’ll also find several high-quality brands for any budget.
- Design – When it comes to build quality, look for a phone with metal or glass design, or both. Metal is sturdy while a glass back enables wireless charging, though it’s important to make sure that this feature is available. There are some budget-friendly handsets with plastic bodies, and while these options are often less expensive, they’re generally not as durable.
- Processor and RAM – A good processor translates to speed and power, with faster loading times for apps and smoother gameplay, for example. Apple’s A-series chipset and Android’s Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus are some of the top performers in the market. When it comes to RAM, look for at least 4GB for Android handsets. iPhones models generally don’t require as much RAM as they handle memory management in a different manner.
- Internal Storage – If you enjoy storing numerous high resolution photos, videos, and apps, it’s better to go for as much internal storage as possible.
- Display – When looking at a phone’s display, pay attention to brightness and colour. OLED screens typically have better contrast and deeper blacks compared to LCD screens. You can also find AMOLED screens on some of the pricier models in the market.
- If you think you’ll be spending extended periods starting at your screen, choose a good size with high resolution. For resolution, the lowest you should go is full HD (or 1920 x 1080 pixels). Most high-end handsets have quad-HD resolution (2560 x 1440) while a select few have 4K resolution (3840 x 2160).
- Screen – Larger phones screens (including “phablets”) are currently popular since they’re ideal for immersive experiences like mobile gaming, watching videos, and reading. But you’ll still find a wide range of display sizes in the market. Aside from screen size, aspect ratio should also play a role in the selection process, since narrower aspect ratios make larger screen smartphones easier to use with just one hand. Smaller screens, on the other hand, are more compact and lightweight. Medium-sized screens can help you strike a balance between portability and viewing experiences.
- Camera – If you love taking pictures with your phone, you’ll find handsets with rear cameras that have 12-megapixel to 108-megapixel sensors. Aside from MP, you should also look at aperture, shutter speed, and image quality, among other camera features.
What kind of features do you need?
Make a list of the most important features that your new handset should have. Do you prefer a handset with a larger screen or one that has extended battery life? Will you need additional storage for music downloads or pet videos? Maybe you’re a frequent traveler and need a dual-SIM phone. How about 5G access? Set priorities and be flexible with the rest.
Which OS do you prefer?
The two most popular smartphone operating systems (OS) are iOS and Android. Both systems are user-friendly and compatible with a variety of mobile apps. Android handsets offer more options at different prices in addition to G Suite access, though it is also possible to download iOS versions of Google services and tools from the App Store. When choosing an Android phone, try to get the latest version available.
iOS, by comparison, offers a more uniform and seamless experience across different Apple devices, with security features like fingerprint scanning and other proprietary offerings like iCloud, FaceTime, and Siri. If you use a MacBook or iPad, then iOS would be a sensible option.
Which specs matter most?
If you’re buying a new phone in-store, take advantage of any test units to get a hands-on experience with the smartphone of your choice before making the purchase. If you see something interesting, pick it up and play around with it. The right design will look and feel good.
If you’re not knowledgeable on specs or haven’t had time to research, bring a friend or family member who knows about handsets. If you’re shopping online, use chat apps to ask customer service reps about specs or check online reviews for guidance.
How much data do you expect to consume each month?
The first step in choosing a data plan is figuring out how much data you consume on a typical month. You can start by looking at your data settings. This will give you a better picture of your data consumption and show which apps or services are the biggest drain on your data.
It’s tempting to get an unlimited data plan, but you might end up overpaying if you have no use for it. Most consumers tend to overestimate their data usage and will spring for an unlimited plan “just in case,” but just know that there are ways to control data usage.
For example, you can restrict background data or set your smartphone to automatically switch to wifi whenever wifi access is available.
Which carrier do you prefer?
When deciding on a carrier, choose the one that provides good coverage in your area so you’ll have a strong and reliable signal. If you want to do data-intensive tasks without WIFI connection, such as video streaming or massively multiplayer (MMP) gaming, you should have good 4G coverage in your area. Some of the newer high-end handsets have 5G.
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