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Buying a New Smartphone? 11 Features You Shouldn’t Skip Out On

Shubham Agarwal 05-12-2018

Buying a smartphone is a complicated process. You have to worry about whether it’s powerful enough, whether its camera can take Instagram-worthy portraits of your dog, the design, and more. But those, sadly, only scratch the surface.


There are a host of other aspects you should consider which might seem trivial but can significantly affect your experience.

Here are some overlooked features you should check when buying a new smartphone.

11 Features Your Next Phone Needs

The majority of smartphones today check all the items off an essentials list. Therefore, it usually comes down to your preferences which is where the following aspects matter.

  1. Oleophobic coating
  2. Gorilla Glass
  3. LCD or OLED?
  4. Storage type
  5. The right software pre-installed
  6. HDR for selfies
  7. Dedicated noise cancellation mic
  8. Quick charging
  9. Accessory support
  10. Notification LED
  11. Gyroscope

Here’s why these features are important and what happens if they’re not present.

1. Oleophobic Coating for Smooth Scrolling

Smartphone Display Coating Shot


Apart from the screen’s resolution and how bright it is, one other detail you should always look into is if the phone’s display has an oleophobic coating. Jargon aside, it’s an extra thin layer which prevents the screen from accumulating any sort of grease.

On smartphones, that usually comes from fingerprint smudges.

Therefore, if the phone’s screen doesn’t have an oleophobic coating or has one but of poor quality, it will quickly lose its smoothness and get oily in a matter of minutes. It will continue to work but won’t be as slick to touch as it was when you first took it out of the box.

While the majority of smartphones today have a decent oleophobic coating, it’s not available on all of them. To know whether a particular product has one, you can ask an expert or the company itself. You can even head into a store and use the demo piece for a while to understand how rapidly the display becomes greasy.


2. Gorilla Glass Protection

Broken Smartphone Screen Shot

In addition to the oleophobic coating, you should also make sure the display has a protective layer as well. In most cases, it will be from a company called Corning whose Gorilla Glass can be found on phones in all price ranges.

As the name suggests, these panels add an additional coat of protection to absorb shocks and falls. It’s worth pointing that this doesn’t guaranty your phone won’t be damaged if the phone slips out of your hand, but it will relatively bring down the amount of the impact.

Whether a phone has display protection can be found in their specifications sheet.


3. LCD vs. OLED: Which Do You Prefer?

Smartphone Front Screen Shot

OLED screens have invariably been hailed as a feature reserved for higher-end phones. While that’s mostly true since OLED panels are more expensive, they’re not always better.

There are several scenarios where an LCD display can come out on the top.

For starters, LCD screens are brighter which is especially apparent when you’re using your phone outdoors. Second, LCD displays have more natural, real colors compared to OLEDs which are known for their saturation and deep blacks.


Therefore, we would recommend selecting between them based on your preferences, not on which one costs more.

4. Storage Type Impacts Response Time

The internal storage affects every action you perform on your phone. While most buyers go over how much storage a phone has, they miss reviewing the storage type, which has a significant impact on the performance.

Storage type determines how quickly apps can write and read data. The best phones out there feature UFS 2.1 storage but if you’re looking for a budget phone, make sure it at least has eMMC 5.1. This information can be easily accessed on the official product page or third-party specifications platform.

5. OEM’s Software History

The phone you’re interested might be advertised with the latest software. But that could be simply a trick if the OEM doesn’t have a proven track record in updates. A positive history in pushing software updates ensures that your phone won’t take ages to receive the latest build.

This is primarily an Android concern due to its fragmentation issues. Therefore, read up on which companies roll out Which Smartphone Manufacturers Are Best for Android Updates? Android phones aren't always guaranteed updated, so how do you know which manufacturer to go for? Read More timely Which Smartphone Manufacturers Are Best for Android Updates? Android phones aren't always guaranteed updated, so how do you know which manufacturer to go for? Read More updates Which Smartphone Manufacturers Are Best for Android Updates? Android phones aren't always guaranteed updated, so how do you know which manufacturer to go for? Read More .

6. HDR for Selfies

Phone Camera View

To produce the right balance of foreground and background in pictures, almost all phones today ship with a camera mode called HDR The Top 7 Places To Learn The Art Of HDR Photography Welcome to the art and craft of HDR. High Dynamic Range Imaging is an image-processing technique that allows you to represent a wider and deeper range of colors. The clarity and detail in the photos... Read More .

For instance, if there’s a sharp light behind where you’re sitting, HDR tweaks the dynamic range in a way that the output won’t suffer in spite of the difficult scene. However, HDR is generally offered on the shots you take with the rear camera.

But if you’re someone who clicks more selfies, then you probably need it for the front snapper as well. This is something OEMs have started adding to their phones, so inquire about it for the phone you’re interested if you fall in the same group too.

7. Dedicated Mic for Noise Cancellation

With phones becoming smarter and more capable every day, the essentials are getting overshadowed. And one of those is the mic which comes into play when you’re on a phone call, recording perhaps a lecture or taking a video.

In order to offer a rich experience in these situations, most manufacturers today add a dedicated mic to their phones for noise cancellation. Some, unfortunately, still don’t. So look into this as well before acquiring your next smartphone.

8. Quick Charging: Proprietary or Universal?

Phone Charging Cables, Adapters

Quick charging isn’t the kind of perk you will have difficulties finding while searching for a new phone. But the one characteristic you should be on the lookout for is whether that touted quick charging is universal or proprietary.

Proprietary quick charging technologies only work on the company’s official, supplied adapter and cable. Therefore, if you lose that adapter or it malfunctions, you will have to again buy the original one which usually costs way more than a universal adapter.

9. Smartphone Accessory Support

A product’s accessory ecosystem plays a crucial role as well. Once you have bought a phone, you would be interested in getting a case, screen guards, maybe a charging dock, etc.

To ensure a particular phone has a decent accessory support, you will have to check how well-known the brand is, whether the phone you’re buying is popular, and lastly, how similar the phone looks to its predecessors and siblings.

That last part is critical because if the phone doesn’t differ much on design, case makers won’t have to do much to build cases for it which is why Apple products have an enormous accessory selection. Once you’ve made up your mind, don’t forget to acquire all the essential accessories for your shiny new device Buying a New Smartphone? All The Accessories You'll (Probably) Need Your new phone has arrived. It is shiny, precious, and packed with possibilities. It sits alone, accompanied by a common charger, and little else — but this isn't fair on your new smartphone. Read More .

10. Notification LED Light

The notification light is another little feature you might overlook and regret later. It can quickly let you know whether there’s a pending notification or your phone has been completely charged.

A bunch of companies have begun replacing it with always-on displays but if you’re someone who values battery life more than anything, the notification LED light is clearly the way to go. Plus, you can customize the notification light How to Customize LED Notifications on Your Android Device If your Android phone or tablet has an LED notification light, this app will help you customize it to your liking. Read More precisely however you like.

11. Gyroscope

If you’re interested in Augmented Reality applications 12 Best Augmented Reality Apps for Android Most augmented reality Android apps aren't great. But these 12 apps and games are awesome---all you need is a phone with a camera! Read More , don’t miss the gyroscope component. While the acceromeleter is sufficient for most users, it cannot determine the rotation of your phone which is a must for AR. That’s why you should ensure the phone you’re buying has a gyroscope sensor.

Understanding Smartphone Hardware

While having all the aforementioned features will certainly help you decide which smartphone suits your needs best, your research doesn’t end here.

There are a host of other technicalities you need to make sure of and to do that, understanding the basics of a smartphone’s hardware Buying A New Smartphone? How To Understand The Hardware Specs There was once a time when buying a cell phone was like buying a CD player. Over time, however, phones have become miniature computers – and the specifications are nearly as complex as a PC's. Read More will always prove beneficial.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Kurt S
    December 12, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    HDR for selfies? I suppose that for the totally self-absorbed snowflakes that would be a big deal. But for "normal humans" I just don't see it at all. If you want to be a photographer, you should consider something other than a cell phone as your picture-taker. The sensor size of a cell phone camera is simply not suited for serious photography work. Sure you can take good pictures with a cell phone, but it you are going to rely on HDR software to make your pictures pretty you probably don't know much about composition. Go buy a nice used bridge camera instead.

  2. Joseph J Pollock
    December 11, 2018 at 9:47 am

    My next smartphone needs to do 5G so I can get some benefit while I'm being microwaved to death. :(

  3. Terry
    December 11, 2018 at 5:07 am

    You missed water and dust protection or IP rating. My mid range Samsung A5 at 270 bucks has it, many more expensive flashy phones from less mature companies do not and it is important if you want a phone that will last 2 or more years.