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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 How I Helped My Mom Buy The Perfect Smartphone How I Helped My Mom Buy The Perfect Smartphone Are you looking to buy your mother the perfect smartphone? Finding the right device for the woman who carried you around for nine months takes a great deal of research and planning. Here's the story... Read More , 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.

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Windows Phone is dying Windows Phone Is Dead, Amazon Builds Spotify Killer... [Tech News Digest] Windows Phone Is Dead, Amazon Builds Spotify Killer... [Tech News Digest] Windows Phone sales are laughably small, Amazon rumored to be targeting Spotify, Apple recalls 12 years-worth of power adapters, Netflix gets blocked in Indonesia, and The Angry Birds Movie in all its glory. Read More . 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 WhatsApp Drops BlackBerry, Using Emoji Can Land You In Trouble... [Tech News Digest] WhatsApp Drops BlackBerry, Using Emoji Can Land You In Trouble... [Tech News Digest] BlackBerry loses WhatsApp support, the wrong emoji can get you in trouble, YouTube is listening, Google temporarily attacks 9to5Google, and Conan and PewDiePie team up to take down mammoths. Read More anymore. Meanwhile, Android and iPhone only keep growing.

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You want the best for your dad, and you want something that isn’t going to get outdated.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.

smartphone-for-dad-tech-computer

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 Android Only: 10 Apps That Aren't Available on IPhone or IPad Android Only: 10 Apps That Aren't Available on IPhone or IPad The iPhone used to be home to all the best exclusive apps, but times have changed. Now we're taking a look at ten of the best Android-exclusive apps out there. Read More , nor is there anything equivalent.

Similarly, you can install launchers that simplify Android for Luddites 3 Best Simple Android Launchers for Your Parents or Grandparents 3 Best Simple Android Launchers for Your Parents or Grandparents One of your parents or grandparents has just gotten a new Android phone -- and it's just so confusing. The best way you can help them is to download an extremely simple launcher. Read More , 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 Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget You love your Android phone and want to buy a tablet. Everyone tells you the iPad is the best tablet, and it really is the best; but you should still buy an Android tablet. Read More . 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.

smartphone-for-dad-tablets

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.

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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 Why Your Next Android Smartphone Should be Chinese Why Your Next Android Smartphone Should be Chinese For years, Chinese smartphones have gotten a bad reputation, but here's why you should really consider getting one now. Read More 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.

smartphone-for-dad-what-matters-to-him

Remember, a quad-core isn’t always better than an octa-core Is an Octa-Core Better than a Quad-Core? Not Always! Android Processors Explained Is an Octa-Core Better than a Quad-Core? Not Always! Android Processors Explained More cores don't necessarily mean a faster processor. Read More . 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 5 Ways Cheap Android Smartphones Beat the Flagships 5 Ways Cheap Android Smartphones Beat the Flagships Who says you need the latest and greatest (and most expensive) smartphone out there? The cheaper alternatives are actually really good. Let us show you. Read More , 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 iPhone SE Review & Giveaway iPhone SE Review & Giveaway Apple's newest iPhone is the smallest produced by the company since the release of the iPhone 5s in 2013. Despite being crammed with the latest hardware, you'd struggle to tell the two apart. Read More ) and the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact. The “regular” series of 4.7-5.2 inch screens, like the iPhone 6S (read our review iPhone 6s Review and Giveaway iPhone 6s Review and Giveaway Spoiler alert: if you like iPhones, you’re probably going to love the iPhone 6s. But are you really surprised? Read More ) or the HTC One M9 (UK) (read our review HTC One M9 Review and Giveaway HTC One M9 Review and Giveaway Metal design? Check. Expandable storage? Check. All the most powerful internals? Check. On paper, the HTC One M9 is one beast of a phone. Read More ). And the “phablet” series of 5.5-inch and larger screens, like the iPhone 6s Plus or fabulous big-screen Androids Fabulous Phablets: The 5 Best Big-Screen Smartphones You Can Buy Fabulous Phablets: The 5 Best Big-Screen Smartphones You Can Buy If you're going to buy a big-screen phone now, and by that, we mean something that's larger than a 5.5-inch screen and smaller than a 7-inch tablet, these are your best options. Read More .

smartphone-for-dad-right-size

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 Never Buy a Phone From Your Carrier! Buy Unlocked Phones and Save Hundreds Never Buy a Phone From Your Carrier! Buy Unlocked Phones and Save Hundreds Never buy a smartphone from a carrier—ever. Most consumers don't know that they can purchase their phones from retailers and pay less than if they did from the carrier. The key word that you're looking... Read More , not something that restricts your father to a particular carrier or plan.

smartphone-for-dad-unlocked

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 The Best US Cellular Data Plans for Your Smartphone The Best US Cellular Data Plans for Your Smartphone Though mobile phones have improved over the years, cellular plans have either stayed the same or gotten worse. Luckily, we've found the best deals for US smartphone users. Read More 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.

smartphone-for-dad-which-phone

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 5 Things You Need to Know About the iPhone SE 5 Things You Need to Know About the iPhone SE The iPhone SE is more than a boring, cut-price iPhone 5c refresh, and it's not cheap either. Read More . 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

  1. A Angleberg
    June 14, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    Is there a way to compare the delays/latency in voice conversations on such phones? These delays are necessary to collect, format and transmit the little packets. They are what causes two people to talk over each other in any animated conversation. Such latency may depend on the device, the network and the immediate route taken by each packet. I had a service with nearly zero such delay; however, the vendor had to discontinue it because it was too easy to hack (Cause-&-effect?).
    Of less importance is sound quality, which I'd also like to compare BEFORE buying/subscribing.

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 30, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      I'm sure there must be a way, but I haven't seen that being tested anywhere. Sorry :( If you do find such a comparison, I'd really appreciate it if you could share.

  2. Kelsey Tidwell
    June 14, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Wow...every Windows phone user in existence showed up to comment. :)

    Just kidding! Windows phone is a great device, but it's just not for me. Even though I've been a devotee to Windows since version 3.1, there's a feel to Microsoft's phone approach that's not comfortable to me. Yes, each ecosystem has a "feel". You know that, silly.

    For me, it'll always be Android. Not because I personally think it's superior. I've dabbled with relatives' iPhones and they have many characteristics I like. But on some deep visceral level, Android phones fit me better. And since you can do pretty much anything you want with any of the ecosystems out there, all that's left to tailor the experience to your life is the feel of it.

    Good article, Mihir. Situations like selecting a deeply personal gift like a phone for your dad (or mother) do more than just give them a new toy/tool. They force us to stop for a while and reflect on the real person that they are to us and (as you mentioned) to their peers. That's important! When we think of all the ways we try to get maximum value out of everything in life (financial/spiritual/emotional/etc.), events like this rank highly.

    You know your folks. As the article says, give them what they want, not what you'd want if you were them. Happy day!

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 30, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks Kelsey! Appreciate the kind words. Haha, I kinda expected the Windows onslaught, to be honest.

  3. atley
    June 13, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    I would never want an iPhone as a present, it would mean that the person knows nothing about me and doesn't respect my social consciousness. An Android phone would mean that you don't care about my information or privacy. A thoughtful gift, that works with everything else would be a Windows Phone.

    The 'App-Gap' is mostly fluff... 99% of the top apps in usage exist on the platform and the others wouldn't really be missed by me as I am over 25 and have things to do.

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 30, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Companies like WhatsApp, the fastest-growing chat app, has abandoned Windows Phone. I can't recommend that platform to anyone.

      • Atley
        June 30, 2016 at 2:58 pm

        Hey Mike, seems you're confused (as os most of the public) not that I blame you or them with all the clickbait passing as reporting these days.

        I have the latest version of WhatsApp on my Windows Phone and it works great! What WhatsApp did do is announce that their ending support for Windows Phone 7.1 which is a four year old version of the OS.. Oh, and by the way, they, in the same press release, announced that their ending support for Android 2.1 as well, so I guess, by that standard, Androids dead too ?

        Here's a relatively unbiased article about it: http://news.softpedia.com/news/whatsapp-ends-support-for-blackberry-os-windows-phone-7-1-by-the-end-of-2016-501080.shtml

        • Mihir Patkar
          July 4, 2016 at 4:10 pm

          Ah you're right about that, Atley, my fault here.

      • Atley
        June 30, 2016 at 3:07 pm

        I have WhatsApp on my Windows Phone and it works great... They are not leaving the platform (as many others are not), but they are ending their support for version 7.1 at the end of 2016, which makes perfect sense as it is a 5 year old version. They are also ending support for Android 2.1, so by the same journalistic integrity Android is dead too.

        Here is a relatively unbiased article on the press release from WhatsApp.

        http://news.softpedia.com/news/whatsapp-ends-support-for-blackberry-os-windows-phone-7-1-by-the-end-of-2016-501080.shtml

  4. Mark
    June 13, 2016 at 11:35 pm
    • Mihir Patkar
      June 30, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      Oh I know, but that's still "buying an Android", not "buying a Blackberry". The BB OS is what I was talking about :) Sorry if I wasn't clear, I can see how that confusion happened

  5. Chris
    June 13, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Windows 10 Mobile is the best so I would pick that. It sounds to me like the Author don't know what their talking about.

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 30, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      Microsoft itself is laying off people in their Windows Mobile team, so I have far less trust in that platform than you do.

      • atley
        June 30, 2016 at 3:22 pm

        Again, the victim of more poor click-bait FUD. Of you had a company, bought another company and then realized you had over 10,000 people all duplicating skills and workload, what would you do?

        Microsoft shouldn't have bought Nokia in the first place... Same as a certain company bought another phone company and had to write it down as a loss (larger than Microsoft's, actually), fired a ton of people and then sold what was left it for 2.91b.

        Microsoft also doesn't need a separate 'Windows Phone' development team anymore, because the OS is the same as the one on the desktop that, in it self eliminated the need for thousands of developers, testers and admin staff for those groups.

        Expect a move.like this from Apple in a few years when they do the same.

  6. Andy1
    June 13, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    It's odd that the author chose to immediately dismiss the best option for many Dads: Windows phone. They are both simple to use and flexible to meet varied needs. In addition, they are secure, should Dad still need to connect with the company. They automatically sync up with Dad's Windows PC (best if both are Windows 10), and Cortana is the best digital assistant out there (using Hey Cortana, Dad won't even have to touch his phone). And the apps argument won't hold water for most Dads, as the commonly used apps are out there, and most Dads won't be needing kid stuff like Snapchat.

    I am guessing that the author heard the mis-information that has been floating about lately, saying that Windows phone market share has sharply dropped, when this is not true. The data behind those bogus statements were based on device sales, which has no correlation to the actual share of users in the marketplace (been fairly flat around 3% for more than a year).

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 30, 2016 at 12:33 pm

      The app argument is WhatsApp. And I've used Windows Phone 10, I'm not talking about this based on third-party information.

  7. Shane Magill
    June 13, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Yup, I am a dad but please no android or iPhone for me. I drive an electric ford focus and my windows phone works best with the Microsoft powered sync 2. I have a Windows powered 8 inch tablet, a Windows two-in-one and a Windows desk top plus a Microsoft band. Yes, I am tech savvy. I trouble shoot my wife's Galaxy Note Edge for her and my mothers iPad and iPod. I also help my brother with his iPhone. I am not a big app user, I just like all my devices to operate within the same ecosystem and I have everything connected through the Microsoft cloud and OneDrive.

    • Mihir Patkar
      June 30, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Fair enough, Shane, and I'd like to thank you for the civil and rational way you presented your argument :)

      For me, the declining support from companies for Windows Phone is a big problem. I can't recommend it any more when companies like WhatsApp are dropping support.

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