Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
It’s undeniable – more and more people are owning smartphones as they are becoming more capable of handling all our possible needs. Today’s smartphones have as much processing power as full desktop computers less than a decade ago, and that power is still increasing with the rise of the first quad-core CPUs for smartphones.
However, if you’ve lived on this planet long enough you’ll know that marketing techniques for new phones can’t be trusted 100%, so you’ll have the best results by looking at the phone’s specs yourself. This article will try to help you figure out what’s the best for you by showing you what you should be aware of and whether it’s good enough for youror iPhone.
Display, Size, & Design
First we’ll take a look at what you’ll probably see first – the display, size, and overall design. The size is actually quite important nowadays because some phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note are, simply put, massive. You’ll have to open up your hand pretty wide to hold those, and placing a device like that on your face might look a little strange is it’s so big. The international version of the Samsung Galaxy S II is 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm and just 116 g, which for my personal preference is just right. Don’t forget to look at how thick it is as well, as you’ll probably be interested in that as well.
You should also look at what type of display is in the phone, and what resolution it has. If you come across a name for the display, such as AMOLED or Retina, you should take the opportunity to google it for more information and reviews.
The overall design is up to your own taste, so just be sure to look at a good number of photos from different angles. If you prefer, you can also go to your carrier’s local store to look at it with your own eyes and get a sense of how it feels in your hand.
The next most important spec is the CPU. This little chip makes a huge amount of difference whether the device flies or manages to squeak by. There’s a lot of different processor names such as Cortex, Snapdragon, Tegra, and more, so if you come across them you should look them up as well. However, if you don’t want much technical information, then you’ll just need to look at two key items – frequency and number of cores.
The decision isn’t always as easy to make, but generally the more cores there are, the better. For example, a 1.0 Ghz dual-core processor will run more smoothly than a 1.5 Ghz single-core processor. Most programs and games can run just fine on 1.0 Ghz, so the extra boost to 1.5 Ghz won’t be as significant of a boost as you may think. On the other hand, if you add a second CPU core, you open the possibility of running more programs simultaneously. If you run a game fine at 1.0 Ghz, you can technically open up two instances of the game with a dual-core processor and still be fine, but a 1.5 Ghz processor would start to choke.
RAM and Memory
Another spec you should watch out for is RAM and memory (permanent storage). Generally, the more RAM the phone has, the more programs (or more resource-hungry programs) you can run on your phone without it slowing down. If you’ll make a lot of use out of your phone and run multiple apps in the background for your social networks and whatnot, more RAM will definitely be needed. 1GB should be good enough for any hardcore user, but some phones are offering even higher amounts.
The memory (for phones, it’s your consistent storage; not to be confused with RAM) amount is also important if you plan to install a lot of apps on your phone. For this, 16GB is usually plenty, especially if you also have an SD card inserted. You should also check for the maximum allowable size for an SD card, which can expand your storage space and is usually used to store your pictures and MP3s.
Miscellaneous But Important Items
There’s plenty of other things that you should at least look at to see if you’re fine with it. Some other things to look for are how many megapixels the camera(s) have, whether there is a rear and front-facing camera, where the headphone and charge ports are located on the phone, how long the battery lasts, and which sensors are included (such as Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, etc). You may also care to see if your favorite after-market ROM is available for that phone, but if that’s the case then you aren’t a dummy!
Lastly, if you’re open to any phone, you’re probably open to the idea of switching carriers. Be sure to not only check the price of the plan you’d possibly get, but also how good their coverage is (such as at your house!), how good their customer service is, and whatever else you may feel is important in your decision.
Just remember that you don’t have to get the best of the best, but this article should help you in determining which specs will be sufficient enough. Of course it’s great to have more than you’ll need, but your wallet will definitely be paying for it in the end. If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this article or ask any of your geeky friends!
What’s most important to you in a phone? What new and unique features do you think may be coming out soon for phones? Let us know in the comments!