Father’s Day is coming up on June 19, so why not make dear old Dad chuck his old phone and get him a shiny new smartphone? The only problem is figuring out which smartphone would be right for him. Well, that’s what we’re here for.
Let’s get one thing clear. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer for this. It depends on upon your father, and you’re the best judge of his likes and dislikes.
Much like how Kannon figured out how to buy the perfect smartphone for mom, this guide will take you through what questions you should ask yourself or your dad to come up with the phone that best matches his needs.
It’s Android or iPhone, Forget the Rest
Almost all phone platforms let you send emails, browse the ‘net, play games, and take lots of photos. But if you’re looking to buy a smartphone in 2016, it should be either an Android or an iPhone.
Windows Phone is dying. Microsoft’s recent layoffs in its handset division only mean the end is near. Things are similar with BlackBerry, which does not have much support from leading apps anymore. Meanwhile, Android and iPhone only keep growing.
You want the best for your dad, and you want something that isn’t going to get outdated. More importantly, getting an Android or an iPhone will mean that he will be able to download major apps.
How Comfortable Is He With Tech?
There are dads whose only understanding of computers is how to switch it on, run Microsoft Office and their email software on it, and shut it down. Then some dads are super-comfortable with getting everything done on their computers.
You know your father best, so figure out what level of simplicity or customization he would want out of a phone. It’s not rocket science to think that those who want simplicity should get an iPhone, and those who are comfortable with tech should get an Android.
But in that simplicity, there is another layer. If your dad is going to need a lot of help from you, then an Android will work out better because you can install Zikk, a remote assistance tool that controls his Wi-Fi, display settings, alarms and reminders, font sizes, and more. And this is one of those Android apps that aren’t available on iPhones, nor is there anything equivalent.
Similarly, you can install launchers that simplify Android for Luddites, which can help those who come from a dumb phone ease their transition to a smart operating system.
Does He Already Use a Tablet?
In the iOS vs. Android battle, it’s best to buy the ecosystem and not the gadget. What this means is that if your father already uses an iPad, then get an iPhone; if he already uses an Android tablet, then get an Android phone.
The reason is simple. If he is used to an iPad already, then he already knows his way around iOS so that he will be much more comfortable with an iPhone. Additionally, he doesn’t need to buy his favorite apps again, or learn how to use them.
What Do His Friends and Peers Use?
Don’t underestimate the importance of this question. At your father’s age, the phone used by his peers may determine whether or not he enjoys his handset.
If his friends or colleagues are going to make fun of his phone, he won’t like it. Don’t think about what you want for him, think about what he wants for himself. For example, if your dad enjoys standing out from the crowd, then explain why Chinese Android smartphones are cool now and get him one of those.
Choosing a smartphone which his friends use will also give him something to bond over, along with tech support. If his friends all use iPhones, getting him an iPhone will let him ask them for help with things he’s embarrassed to ask you about.
What Matters Most to Him?
Think about your dad’s priorities, his schedule, his daily routine, and his passions before you decide on a phone. Based on that, you’ll need to figure out which features are important for him.
Remember, a quad-core isn’t always better than an octa-core. You need to understand his requirements before deciding the horsepower in the phone. Similarly, if he enjoys taking pictures, then he needs a good camera. If he’s out and about the whole day, a large battery will be more useful.
As much as you might think he should get a phone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, maybe that’s not what he needs at all. At the same budget, you might get a slower processor with a longer lasting battery.
In fact, speaking of budgets, that might be the feature he desires the most. Some people are intimidated by expensive phones and will handle them so gingerly that they don’t use them the way they should. At this point, cheap Android phones are comparable to flagships, so going with a budget handset might be best if that makes your dad not worry about breaking it.
Yes, you want the best and top-of-the-line stuff for your dad, but buy based on his needs and wishes, not your desires for him.
What’s the Right Size?
Generally speaking, there are three basic sizes in phones now. The “compact” series of 4-4.3 inch screens, like the iPhone SE (UK) (read our review) and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. The “regular” series of 4.7-5.2 inch screens, like the iPhone 6S (read our review) or the HTC One M9 (UK) (read our review). And the “phablet” series of 5.5-inch and larger screens, like the iPhone 6s Plus or fabulous big-screen Androids.
There’s no way to know which phone is right for your father. You might want to get him to try out a few of them in his hand first. Then go with whatever is the biggest size you think he’ll feel comfortable using.
That said, I have a quick test to tell if a phone is too big for him. Measure his hand from the base of the palm to the top of his pinkie finger. If the total length of the phone (including the non-screen parts) fits in that, then it probably won’t be too big.
Buy It Unlocked
Once you decide which phone you want, there’s one last step before you make the purchase. You should buy an unlocked handset, not something that restricts your father to a particular carrier or plan.
Chances are, you will be paying just for the phone and not the monthly plan for the phone services. In that case, give your dad the freedom to figure out which carrier he wants to go with, and which plan he prefers. In fact, if it’s possible, do a little research and help him pick out the right plan too.
Which Phone Did You Buy For Dad?
At the end of this guide, you should have figured out the right phone to pick up for your father. At the time of writing this (June 2016,) we can give you a few recommendations, but be warned that these might get outdated quickly.
iPhone users don’t need to think too much. Multiple sizes exist. That said, perhaps the iPhone SE isn’t the best choice since it doesn’t have 3D Touch. Still, neither do Androids, and it’s a great phone otherwise.
The choices for Android smartphones are too many to list here. Right now, the Samsung Galaxy S7 (UK) is the best smartphone out there, while the Moto G4 Plus (UK), the Google Nexus 5X (UK), and several other handsets are quite good too, at more affordable prices.
We’d love to know what you picked up for your dad and why. So drop a line in the comments below!
Image Credit: senior man using smartphone by pathdoc via Shutterstock