8+ Best Android Phone Features Your Next Mobile Must Have
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The number of Android devices to choose from gets exponentially larger with every passing month. Amazingly, if you consider all the phones, tablets, TVs, streaming boxes, laptops, and other associated devices, there are now an estimated 18,000 different Android products on sale around the world. All of them have different features vying for your attention.

With so many options, how do you know what features your next smartphone must have, and which ones are an unnecessary manufacturer fad?

If you’re in the market for a new Android smartphone in 2017, read on. We’re going to break down what features your new phone absolutely needs, which features are slowly becoming mainstream, and which novelty features you can expect to see.

The “Must-Haves”

Let’s begin by looking at the core elements. If the new phone you’re considering doesn’t have the vast majority of these features included, you should probably give it a wide berth.

4 GB of RAM

Your new phone should have a bare minimum of 4 GB of RAM. Although some of the leading phone’s available right now still ship with 3 GB, 4 GB is going to become commonplace over the next 12 months. In fact, there is already talk that certain flagship phones due to be released later this year could have as much as 8 GB.

If you assume you’ll have your phone for at least two years How Often Do You Upgrade Your Smartphone? [MakeUseOf Poll] How Often Do You Upgrade Your Smartphone? [MakeUseOf Poll] Many of us use smartphones to communicate on a daily basis, whether through calls, texts, or apps. Which means there is always a strong temptation to own the latest and greatest smartphone on the market. Read More , you’ll need 4 GB to future-proof yourself against increasingly resource-hungry apps.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor will definitely be included in the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the Samsung Galaxy S8, and as the year progresses, more and more manufacturers will make the jump to Qualcomm’s most modern chip.

This processor is made using nanoparticles — some as small as 10 nanometers. For comparison, that’s the size of just a few water molecules.

The reduced size gives manufacturers more physical space to include extra features, while users can also expect better battery life and a performance improvement of up to 27 percent.

1440 x 2560 Resolution

With more RAM and a better processor, you should make sure your new phone has a resolution of at least 1440 x 2560 pixels.

It’s already available on the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, Moto Z, and HTC 10. By the end of 2017, very few top-end phones will be available with a lower-resolution screen than that.

Headphone Jack

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re no doubt aware of Apple’s hugely controversial decision to drop the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 Apple Launches New iPhone 7 With No Headphone Jack... [Tech News Digest] Apple Launches New iPhone 7 With No Headphone Jack... [Tech News Digest] In case you've been living under a rock, we have a brief rundown of the latest Apple event during which Apple showcased the iPhone 7, the Apple Watch 2, and Super Mario Run for iOS. Read More .

Sure, it might not be long until we see more Android handsets that also omit the ubiquitous port, but right now, the headphone standard is too widely used to have a phone without it.

iphone 7

And, of course, it’s not just headphones that use the port. Lots of credit card readers — including Square Credit Card Processing On Android: Best Tools For Accepting Payment Credit Card Processing On Android: Best Tools For Accepting Payment Want to process credit card payments on your Android device? Here are the best tools for getting it done. Read More and Intuit — rely on the technology.

The “Should-Haves”

If your new devices ticks all those boxes, what else should you look out for when you hit the shops?

3,000mAh+ Battery

Battery life has been the thorn in the side of smartphones ever since their inception. It’s not that battery quality hasn’t improved — it has — but apps, processors, and screens are also draining more and more power.

If you use your Android device throughout the day — perhaps listening to audio on your commute 12 Podcasts Guaranteed to Make Your Commute Easier 12 Podcasts Guaranteed to Make Your Commute Easier Commuting to work can be both boring and frustrating, but many of us do it every day. Thankfully, podcasts can make your commute much more entertaining. Read More , taking calls in the office, or doing some light gaming in the evening — it’s already unlikely your current phone can make it from dawn until dusk without a boost.

Like some of the features I’ve already discussed, large batteries are becoming increasingly widespread. Look for something rated for at least 3,000mAh — though bigger is better in this case.

Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 has a 3,000mAh battery while the S8 Plus has a 3,500mAh battery, and the LG G6 has a solid 3,300mAh battery.

Corning Gorilla Glass

Gorilla Glass 5 is already available on some devices (like the Galaxy S8 or Huawei P10), but lots of phones are still languishing with Gorilla Glass 4 or 3.

Though it may not be as strong as Gorilla Glass 5, Gorilla Glass 4 offers much better damage resistance than its predecessor. In fact, testing shows it can withstand drops from twice as high. It’s also thinner, meaning slightly less bulk in your pocket.

Don’t settle for Gorilla Glass 3. You’d probably be okay with Gorilla Glass 4, but Gorilla Glass 5 is your best bet if you really want to be sure your phone’s screen will stay in one piece.

Fingerprint Sensor

I was skeptical about the benefits of a fingerprint sensor 8 Unique Ways to Use the Fingerprint Scanner on Your Android Device 8 Unique Ways to Use the Fingerprint Scanner on Your Android Device The fingerprint scanner on your Android phone can do a lot more than just unlock your device. Read More until I had a phone that included one. They make unlocking your screen much faster and can also be used with security apps such as LastPass 5 Best LastPass Alternatives to Manage Your Passwords 5 Best LastPass Alternatives to Manage Your Passwords Many people consider LastPass to be the king of password managers; it's packed with features and boasts more users than any of its competitors -- but it's far from being the only option! Read More and finance apps like Robinhood The Best Smartphone Finance Apps for Budgeting, Investing, & Saving The Best Smartphone Finance Apps for Budgeting, Investing, & Saving There are a number of fantastic apps that can tackle nearly any financial goal you have in as hands-off a fashion as possible. Read More .

Almost all flagship phones now have a fingerprint scanner. However, if the top models are outside your budget, getting a second-tier handset that offers one could be a life changer.

IP67 or IP68 Rating

This system refers to a device’s waterproofness What Makes a Device Waterproof or Water-Resistant? What Makes a Device Waterproof or Water-Resistant? A lot of devices are marketed as waterproof, but that can be severely misleading. Most are actually water-resistant. What's the difference? Here's everything you need to know about it. Read More . Up until recently, almost all “waterproof” devices shipped with a rating of IP67, but that’s starting to change.

IP67 means a phone can be underwater for 30 minutes at a depth of one meter. IP68 increases the depth to 1.5 meters. Either should be fine if you accidentally drop it in the bath or throw a drink over it.

But a word of warning — the tests are conducted in lab conditions with a phone in standby mode. Your shiny new device might not be as resistant if you decide to start taking underwater photos. Pool chemicals and salt in the ocean can cause all sorts of problems.

And the Rest…

There are a litany of other features and specs to watch out for. Which you consider to be the most important depends on how you use your device. It’s unlikely we’ll see a phone that offers all of them anytime soon. Keep an eye out for:

The “Gimmicks”

To conclude my list, here are a few features that we might see in the next 12 months, but they won’t make much of a difference.

Glass Body

The OnePlus 5 (apparently, the company will skip OnePlus 4) is rumored to have either a glass or ceramic body.

Personally, I’d prefer a ceramic one — a glass back might look pretty when you initially unbox it, but it’s going to scratch easily, and you’ll constantly be covering it in fingerprints.

Button-Free

We’re expecting to see the HTC Ocean (name liable to change) in late 2017. The company has already released the U Play and U Ultra this year, but they were adamant that those weren’t this year’s flagship models.

htc ocean

According to leaked images (above), the Ocean will have no buttons anywhere on the phone. That means no power button, no volume controls, and no home button. Is button-free the future of Android smartphones? Possibly.

Wireless Charging

Wireless charging sounds great — fewer cables is always a good thing. But, let’s be honest, you still have to leave your phone in a particular place while it fills its battery, and you still need to plug the pad itself into a power source.

Is it nice? Yes. Is it essential? Not for most people.

What Features Do You Look for?

I’ve covered quite a few features you need to consider when buying your next Android phone, but these aren’t necessarily the features that are most important to you individually.

Therefore, I’d love to get your input. What features will be on the top of your wish list when you purchase your next device? What can you live without? Which features do you think will still be important in five years’ time?

As always, you can leave you thoughts and opinions in the comments below.

Image Credits: ra2studio/Shutterstock

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  1. Mark Messinger
    April 27, 2017 at 6:21 am

    If a phone is sold in the U.S. and yet isn't capable of supporting both GSM and CDMA networks, I see no reason to call it a "flagship." So long as we're going to have these different technologies offered by different carriers, those of us who wish to purchase unlocked devices ought to be able to operate them on whatever networks we choose.

  2. Matt
    April 27, 2017 at 3:34 am

    Quite frankly I'm having a hard time finding a reason to upgrade from my 18 month old Note 5 - and believe me, I'm a tech-head a d if there was a reason I could find the cash for it. My hard core gaming happens on my PC or laptop, and the Note 5 views movies and does internet perfectly well. Y'know what feature I really WOULD like? An IR port so I could use it as a remote control again - I miss that from my older Galaxy phones.

  3. Roger Young
    April 26, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    Lower resolution for less data usage. 5.7 to 6 in. screen. Removable memory and battery. 3D camera and 3D screen.

  4. Erin
    April 26, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    One thing I love about my Nexus 6P is the front-facing stereo speakers. I love it when sound is coming towards me. It's also nice and loud. I hope Google puts these back on the next Pixels; I don't need my phone to be completely without bezels.

  5. Techno Geek
    April 26, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    I want my phone to be wearable. A bracelet type device that projects a square holographic screen. The device will be neurologicaly link to my brain so I can interact with it. I will just press a button to turn the device on and then every interaction is done by thought alone. Because it was linked to the brain, you can listen to music without an earphone or speaker, the music just plays in your mind?Got a call? You can hear the voice of the caller deep within your head?The device is equipted with 6 microphones for 360 sound recording. The device might even project images to your mind that there id no need for a screen. As for the battery, it will be powered by your body and ambient light from the sun?

  6. Frank
    April 26, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    Headphone jack isn't necessary. Let it go.
    Neither is SD card expansion, 256GB or 512GB on board should do the trick.

    • Fik of Borg
      April 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      SD card expansion is useful as file transfer even if you have 1TB on board. Flashing comes to mind also.

      • silverlokk
        May 3, 2017 at 6:14 am

        I do almost all of my file transfers wirelessly. Other times, I'd use a USB drive, provided both devices support On-the-Go (OTG).

        Flashing though is a legitimate case, although I suspect that only a small percentage of users would flash their ROMs

  7. Kurt S
    April 26, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    The one feature that the next Android phone will have to have is to be able to intutitvely know what my wife (Techno-no Girl) wants it to be able to do by reading her mind/wants/desires. Much of what you have predicated make me think that our phones are indeed being deemed as desktop/laptop replacements. Perhaps we should include radar with warining capabilities so people won't walk into traffic, sides of buildings, off cliffs?