(BPT) - There are so many choices when shopping for a smartphone these days, and the differences can be very subtle. Here are some of the key things you’ll want to look at to make sure you find the one that works best for your needs.
Operating System (OS): There are two different operating systems to choose from. iOS works with iPhones, while Android operates with a wider variety of smartphones, like those from Samsung or Motorola. In general, iOS is considered easier to use, but you need to have an Apple device. Android gives you more options, plus the ability to customize with third-party software and widgets.
Screen size: Get the right-size screen for the things you’ll want to do. Buy a phone with a screen smaller than 5.5 inches if one-hand use is important to you or if you have smaller hands. Get a bigger-screen phone if you like to watch a lot of videos or play games, or simply want to have an easier time navigating on your touchscreen.
Camera: Most people now use their phones as their primary camera, so the right selection here will be an especially important one. More and more smartphones boast cameras with at least 12 mega-pixels, so don't go by only that stat. Instead, focus on individual camera specs and special features like dual lenses or the ability to edit and enhance your photos.
Display: For a phone’s display, color quality and brightness matter more than resolution. Pay attention to how bright the display is, if it will be easy to see outdoors, and how colorful the panel is. The very latest phones even offer high dynamic range (HDR) for displaying even more colors.
Design: Determining good smartphone design is purely subjective. Many people prefer a metal or glass design; others, plastic. If you’re concerned about durability, look for a phone that is water-resistant. A handful of phones also now feature a shatterproof glass display, and many include a Gorilla Glass display to protect it from short drops (though a protective case will help with that, too).
Processor: Even midrange phones now offer satisfactory performance for nearly any user level or basic task. A good processor inside a phone will translate to faster open times for apps, smoother navigation and quicker photo editing.
Battery: Many factors, including the screen size, processor and operating system, determine how long a smartphone lasts on a charge. A decent benchmark is to look for a smartphone with a battery capacity of at least 3,000 mAh. Any phone that lasts longer than 9 hours of straight 4G LTE use is considered very good.
Storage: Given that some apps and games can easily take up more than 1GB of storage, not to mention how many high-res photos and videos smartphone owners are capturing, go for as much internal storage as possible. Some models offer just 8Gb or 16Gb; however, the minimum on premium handsets these days is usually 32GB. Adding a micro SD card can also help expand your storage. This option's available on many Android phones.
Price: Don’t pay for more than you need. The latest iPhone and premium Android phones start around $650, and can easily run you $800 or more. But there are great options below $500, and even some solid choices for less than $200.
Carrier: A smartphone requires a talk and data plan. Choose a cellphone service provider that offers what you’ll really use. Avoid expensive, one-size-fits-all plans. Consumer Cellular, for example, offers a wide variety of smartphone choices from entry level to top of the line, along with talk and data plans that cost their average customer less than $25 a month, with no contracts.
Let today’s top technology work for you! It’s a very competitive marketplace, so by shopping wisely, you’re sure to find a smartphone that keeps you happily connected at a great price.