With each passing day, the competition is getting fiercer in the mobile market. Manufacturers are starting to launch phones for every price segment. Companies like Samsung and Xiaomi launch dozens of products every year, which can mislead the buyer. In this article we will talk about the most important features that you should look for when making a new purchase.
Of course, depending on the chosen price segment, most smartphones make sacrifices in certain areas, remaining at your discretion as a buyer, to decide on which facilities you put the most price. Speaking of price, the first step is to always choose an amount that you plan to use to purchase your phone.
I decided to start this list with the first thing you notice when you hold a phone in your hand, namely the construction of the phone. We need to keep track of the size of the phone, the materials it is made of, and where the phone buttons, fingerprint sensor, etc. are located. One feature I won't insist on is the sound from the phone speakers. At the moment there are very few manufacturers that still include stereo sound on their phones, so if this is important to you, you won't have many choices available.
It's another feature where manufacturers don't give us too many choices, with most companies moving easily, easily to 6.7-inch screens. Keep in mind that in general, if you want to use the one-handed phone at least occasionally, any phone under 6.2 inches is convenient for users with small hands, for those with medium-sized hands anything between 6.2 and 6.5 inches, and those over 6.5 inches is only recommended for people with large hands.
• Quality of materials
Screen - Apart from foldable phones, in general all smartphones have glass screens, but here too there are differences. Phones that use Gorilla Glass are more resistant to scratches and drops. Gorilla Glass used on phones is of 7 types: from Gorilla Glass 1 to Gorilla Glass 6 (the larger the number, the stronger the glass) and Gorilla Glass Victus (being the latest model, but also the most resistant)
Phone frame - Plastic frames can in some cases affect the integrity of the phone and give you the feeling that you have a cheaper phone in your hand. Aluminum frames give you the feeling of holding a premium phone in your hand and make the phone frame more durable.
Back of the phone - Here we often find 3 materials: plastic / polycarbonate, aluminum, glass. Plastic or polycarbonate give a cheaper feel to the hand, but there is no risk of it breaking. In the worst case, the plastic may be scratched, which affects the appearance of the phone. Aluminum is a premium material that is rarely found on phones. The main disadvantage, in addition to the possibility of the aluminum being scratched, is that it eliminates the possibility of wireless charging, the charging signal not being able to pass through the aluminum. Glass is one of the most widely used materials in recent times. The main disadvantages are the traces left by fingerprints, but also the possibility of breaking this glass, which is not really cheap to replace. Of course, if you plan to keep your phone in a case with a protective cover, the quality of the materials is not an issue when choosing a phone.
• Positioning the buttons / fingerprint sensor
Here it depends on everyone's preferences. In general, no matter where the fingerprint sensor is placed (below the screen, on the side, on the back of the phone), it is convenient to use once you get used to the new phone.
When you need to form an opinion on the display of a device, there are 4 important factors to keep in mind: the technology used, the screen refresh rate (measured in HZ), the brightness measured in nits (candles per square meter) and the ppi (pixels per inch) of the screen.
• The technology used
OLED / AMOLED / Super AMOLED - I decided to include them in the same category because although there are small differences between the 3, the main features are the same. They are very vibrant screens, with excellent contrast, which reproduce vivid colors and consume less energy than LCD screens. In the case of OLED screens, each pixel can be turned on and off individually unlike LCD screens. So when the phone has to reproduce a black image, the pixels go out. That's why using night mode on phones with OLED screens can lead to 10% longer battery life. OLED screens also allow the use of the Always-on-display function without touching the battery. One risk of OLED screens is that after prolonged use (years), burn-in may occur on the screen, which affects the appearance of the screen.
LCD - LCD screens can also be of several types: TN, TFT LCD, IPS, Retina Display, etc. However, as in the case of OLED, they have approximately identical characteristics. Mainly, LCD screens may be a little brighter and maybe even brighter than OLED screens, but the colors are more faded. Unfortunately, LCD screens consume more battery power than OLED screens and do not have as good contrast as these.
It is universally appreciated that OLED / AMOLED / Super AMOLED screens are the best choice when it comes to display technology.
• Refresh rate
It's simple, the higher the refresh rate, the smoother the user experience of the phone. What does the refresh rate mean? How many times per second a screen can change its image. Until a few years ago, 60 HZ was the industry standard, but now there are 144 HZ screens. And I assure you, the difference between 60 HZ and 120 HZ will be seen as from heaven to earth both in the case of games and when scrolling on social networks. It is worth mentioning that a higher refresh rate will consume the battery faster.
• Brightness measured in nits
The higher the number of nits the screen can reach, the brighter it is. If the phone is not bright enough, you may have difficulty handling it outside in the sun. Overall, a brightness of over 400 nits is acceptable for outdoor phone use.
The higher the pixel density (ppi), the clearer the screen and the greater the risk of seeing the pixels on the screen with the naked eye. I recommend a ppi of over 300 for a pleasant experience. Any ppi below 300 means that a person with good eyesight will be able to see the pixels with their eyes free.
The processor is the "engine" of the device. It is the basis of all the activities we carry out on a smartphone. Many people think that this is important only for gamers, but the processor plays an extremely important role in both the use of common applications and the use of the camera. A faster processor will allow you to capture high-resolution photos and videos or load various applications without lag or delays. If you plan to use your phone for simple tasks, you can often make compromises in this category.
Before buying a phone with a certain type of processor, I recommend comparing its result in synthetic tests (the most used being Geekbench and Antutu) with other processors on other phones in the same price area.
In addition to the performance of the processor, the number of nanometers of the technology on which it was built is a very important aspect. The lower the number of nanometers, the less energy the processor consumes, the more efficient it is, which has a major impact on the battery (both the Apple flagship and the Qualcomm flagship are built on 5 nm architecture).
Memory and storage
On the memory side, companies are starting to include more RAM in their phones than many of us have in laptops. On the other hand, this rush for RAM seems to be justified, as phones with more RAM will be able to keep several applications running at the same time, making multi-tasking much more efficient. On the other hand, at the time of writing, 6 GB of RAM is enough for a regular user, if the phone is well optimized. If you want to use your phone for more than 2 years, 8 GB of RAM might be a good choice.
In terms of storage options, most manufacturers have started to adopt 128 GB as a minimum storage. That's a good thing, because over time, both applications and the operating system grow in size. If 5 years ago, many of us had phones with 16 GB of storage and we could handle them, now 64 GB is starting to become insufficient both because of the applications, but also because of the size of the pictures (larger sensors, pictures and video larger in size). Therefore, before buying a phone at any time, it is good to relate to the market average. On the storage side, the SD card may be a feature that some people are looking for. Unfortunately, the storage space on the SD cards is more difficult to access by the phone, so by default it is slower than the internal storage of the phone.
The most important thing to mention in this category is the following: MORE MEGAPIXELS DO NOT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN BETTER QUALITY! Iphone 12 Pro Max has one of the best cameras available on the market and yet it has a sensor of only 12 MP… This in the conditions in which even the cheapest phones like Samsung A12 come with sensors of 48 MP. Most of the time, these sensors are used to "merge" several pixels into one. Phones with 48 MP sensors combine 4 pixels in one, reaching a resolution of 12 MP, while 108 MP sensors combine 9 in one, reaching 12 MP. This does not mean that the pictures will automatically be clearer and better balanced in terms of color and exposure.
To compare photos, it is recommended to follow different reviews, or use the photo comparison tool provided by the boys from GSMArena. Even if you ignore this aspect, there are other details that you need to follow when buying a phone to take good pictures:
• Selfie camera
For some people, the selfie camera is just as important, if not more important than the main sensor. It is a good idea to follow the tests done with this camera if this is an important issue for you. At the time of writing, manufacturers are experimenting with selfie cameras placed under the display. If you are a fan of selfies, it is advisable to avoid them until the technology is cemented, as they produce much lower photos than classic cameras.
• Camera application
The camera app plays an extremely important role in the quality of images and videos. Manufacturers develop their own applications and how they process the information captured by the camera. That's why 2 phones with exactly the same sensor can produce completely different results. If you like photos taken by Samsung, even if you buy a Xiaomi phone with the same camera, you might be disappointed with the results. That's why I recommend that if you notice pictures that draw your attention to your friends, ask them what phone they were taken with. Chances are that the phone is right for you too, if the camera is an important factor in choosing a phone.
For experienced users, on phones with Snapdragon or Mediatek processors, there is the possibility to install the Google Camera application (or GCam for short), this is the software used by Google Pixel phones. Google Pixel phones, which use the same 12 MP sensor for over 4 years, are still in the top in terms of photo / video quality, thanks to well-optimized software.
• Optical stabilization
If you are passionate about videography, optical stabilization will make the difference in captured footage. In short, there are two types of stabilization: Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), which is present on all phones and is done by cropping the image to ensure a stable image; Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), which is only present on certain phones and actually involves the physical movement of the sensor, to obtain stable clips, comparable to those obtained with a gimbal. Most of the time, the top phones use optical stabilization in combination with digital.
• Existence of other sensors besides the main one
I will briefly present the types of secondary cameras that have been included in the past on smartphones, starting with the most common and ending with the least common, explaining their usefulness. If you think you really need one of the features offered by the cameras below, go for a phone like this. Otherwise, go to the phone with the best main sensor.
In this section we will focus on Android systems. If you're not an advanced user (using different apk and various customizations and features offered by Android), you like the Apple ecosystem and want a well-optimized, easy-to-use phone with long-lasting software updates, iPhone- They are a good choice if they are within your budget.
For everyone else, Android is the right choice. Unfortunately, there is no single type of Android. Each company has its own interpretation of the open-source system, adding various features that can make your life easier, but at the same time they can affect the performance of your phone.
Currently, everyone is looking for phones that are as close as possible to the cleanest version of Android, a version that we find on Google Pixel phones. At the time of writing, we can find a clean version of Android from brands such as One Plus, Motorola or some Nokia phones. Personally, I would recommend Android phones with stock / clean, but also other companies like Samsung through OneUI offer a pleasant user experience. While other companies like Xiaomi have managed to greatly improve the user experience in recent years, the presence of advertisements in basic applications can be a factor that can convince you not to use their phones, despite the high quality offered at a higher price. smaller than the competition.
For many, battery life is one of the key factors in choosing a phone. Phones with a higher battery capacity (measured in mAh) will usually allow you to use them longer before they require a charge, but this is not a general rule. All of the above features affect battery life, starting with the screen and ending with how the phone software is optimized. A weaker processor will consume less, an OLED screen with night mode activated will consume less, a smaller display will consume less and of course a well-optimized software will work wonders in terms of battery.
Even if the battery of a phone with an OLED screen and a weaker processor with a capacity of 4500 mAh will last longer than the battery of a phone with an LCD screen, a top processor and a 5000 mAh battery, at the time of writing this article, Any battery above 4000 mAh should allow you to use your phone for a full day without having to charge it.
Other things to look for are: charging speed (fast charging) and the existence of wireless charging. Both can be extremely important for a particular type of user. If you are among them, look for phones that have these features.
In addition to all the features listed above, there are some features that may be missing from some phones, some of which you might consider important to you:
This article was intended to teach you, at a semi-advanced level, how to interpret the specifications of a new phone that has appeared on the market, without being among those who fall into certain marketing traps set by certain manufacturers. After all, you, the buyer, are the most justified to choose your phone, so as to make sure that your new purchase will satisfy absolutely all your needs in terms of smartphones.