- Screen size largely infers overall phone size.
How big of a physical phone can you tolerate? If
you're going to keep it in your front or back pocket, a massive phablet
could become uncomfortable, and even more likely to get damaged
compared to storing it in bag/purse.
- Keep in mind that all screen sizes aren't the same.
Two smartphones can claim the same size screen (measured as
diagonal length), but can be very different shapes, with one being much
longer and narrower vs. shorter and wider. So physically
holding these phones will be important to really get a good feel for
how easily it fits in your pocket, and how easy it is to hold and
- The screen can be one of the more expensive
components of a smartphone. So lower price phones often have
lower resolution. That said, don't be fooled either.
There are certain high end resolutions that your eye will not
be able to discern, or that you wouldn't otherwise notice the
difference unless it's sitting next to something better.
- But be cautious here; many low and even mid-tier
phones have pretty poor resolution that you simply won't want to use.
Not only does this impact the visual appearance of text and
graphics, but can also affect its responsiveness when tapping or
- This is another area where manufacturers can save
money. You'll want to look at the megapixels (MPs) of both
the front and rear cameras. If you take a lot of videos or
pictures, this could be one of the key decision making features!
- You'll want to think about what you're using the
phone for; taking videos and pictures of others, or yourself (i.e.
- Also, MPs is not always the most critical number to
compare, as lens quality also plays a role. So one camera may
be 15MPs, but take lower overall quality photos than a 10MP camera from
another manufacturer. So research reviews online, ask
friends, and compare in person where possible.
- Another key point to keep in mind is what are you
going to do with your pictures and videos? If you're going to
upload HD videos to YouTube, you'll have a different perspective on
quality than if you mostly upload to Facebook (which reduces the
quality). Same thing for pictures, with the additional
consideration regarding whether you'll be printing out physical
- Lastly, if you're not going to make use of the higher
quality videos/images, you may not want your media to take up so much
space on your phone's memory, your Dropbox/Box/iCloud account to which
your media is backing up, or even your computer's hard drive.
All that extra resolution and quality results in larger file
sizes that you may not even need! Of course you can reduce
the quality in the camera settings. The key point is all else
being equal, just don't pay extra for a better quality camera that you
may not take advantage of.
- How much storage also impacts the price.
Even more importantly, does the smartphone support removable
storage (ex. microSD cards)? If not, the internal storage
will be a much greater consideration. Also note that even
when external storage is supported, many apps can't be installed on
external media, so your internal memory will still become a limiting
- Generally speaking, I always recommend getting the
most memory that you can either afford, or that is reasonably priced.
For example, for an extra $50, even getting 50% more internal
storage is probably worthwhile, however, for another $100, it may not
make sense, because you can likely upgrade to a new smartphone in a
year, and get a lot more for that $100. Keep in mind that
you'll always end up wanting more storage over time even if you don't
think you need it now!
- A lot of people love the sleek metallic designs that
Apple pioneered with the iPhone, however, with that you lose the
ability to carry a spare battery with you, or replace dying batteries
after 2-3 years. If you upgrade your phones regularly, you
may not encounter a dying battery, however, even a defective battery
(and after your warranty has expired) can be a massive hassle and
- The battery rating, usually stated in mAh, will tell
you how long the batter will last with one charge. Obviously
the larger the better. So when comparing two similar phones,
you'll want the larger battery rating, particularly if you don't want
to purchase a spare battery or external battery pack charger/case.
- For iPhones this really isn't much of a consideration
as Apple will upgrade older phones that span back many generations.
You will want to be cautious, though, as some older hardware
will become very slow on a newer OS. Thus, even though Apple
offers an upgrade, you may want to avoid it if your phone is working
just fine, and is already a couple of generations old.
- For Android, it's a different story. I
recommend that you purchase a smartphone that has an operation system
that you'll be happy with. If you're really wanting the
latest OS, but the phone you're purchasing comes with the previous
version, you'll want to think twice. Why? Because
it can take literally a year or MORE for the manufacturer (ex.
Samsung) to release their version of Google's latest OS. In
addition, they may never release it!
- Which operating systems (Android vs. iOS vs. Windows)
is such a personal decision that I'm not going to get into that here;
that's a topic for another page altogether!
- Processor CPUs are rated in GHz and number of cores
(ex. dual core, quad core, octa core). The higher the number
on these, the better.
- HOWEVER, the software that's running on the phone has
a huge impact on performance. Thus, a lower rated CPU, can
perform the same or better if the manufacturer is using an OS that is
lean and efficient.
- That said, the processor won't necessarily be the
feature to sway your decision. Older processors can work
perfectly fine, which is why in the PC/laptop world, you can purchase a
very inexpensive machine with an older processor and it will work great
for normal/common every tasks. Only graphics intensive
applications and gamers may really need the latest technology.
So be savvy here, and don't think that you need to spend more
on a smartphone that is otherwise the same in specs, but has a better
processor and costs a lot more!
- There are some amazing off brands that literally
have the same features and performance as the mainstream/popular
brands, but at a much lower price. Some of them are simply
taking lower profits to try to gain customers, or don't have the brand
presence to charge higher prices. So don't think that you
need to have an iPhone or Samsung to have a smartphone that can do
everything you need it to do!