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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
And, of course, it’s not just headphones that use the port. Lots of credit card readers — including Square and Intuit — rely on the technology.
If your new devices ticks all those boxes, what else should you look out for when you hit the shops?
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, 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.
I was skeptical about the benefits of a fingerprint sensor 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 and finance apps like Robinhood.
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. 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:
- 64 GB+ of storage
- Removable SD card
- Bluetooth 4.2
- NFC (Near-field communication)
- At least 5 MP front-facing camera
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.
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.
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.
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 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