When it comes to purchasing a new phone these days, consumers are flocking to purchase the hottest new smartphone. Smartphones dominate the market with their innovative features, sleek looks and seemingly limitless functions thanks to continuously improving software and growing apps.
Walk into any phone retailer and you will see rows of glowing screens showing beautiful displays and the latest in technology improvements. Events such as the international Consumer Electronics Show which are dedicated to the latest technology are filled with new smartphone releases and manufacturers discussing the great features of their products. Since smartphones are such a hit, they are being released faster than ever. But with so many to choose from, choosing between one or the other can be difficult.
What should play a role in your decision making? Is it the carrier of the phone, screen size, battery life, speed, or any combination of these traits? There are many amazing smartphones out there, but this guide will help you narrow the decision based on what matters most to you.
The first question to ask yourself is, “Which phone carrier do I want to go with?” The main carriers all come with their strengths and weaknesses, so let’s begin by examining those.
Verizon: Verizon has the fastest 4G out of any carrier and larger coverage than Sprint and AT&T at an estimated 186 million people covered by 4G LTE, according to Tim Beyer, reporter for Fox News.
AT&T: Although the 4G speeds that Verizon offers are faster than AT&T, the speed for users that have iPhones will be the best, allowing for great streaming of videos, apps and games.
Sprint: Whereas Verizon and AT&T don’t offer any unlimited plans, Sprint does and it starts at only $69 per month. This is perfect for users who are on their phones a lot while on the go. On the downside, Sprint’s slow speeds for phones like the iPhone 4S may hold you back from using all of that data.
Once you have an idea of the service provider you want, you can start to look at the specifics that different phones offer. Some phones are unique to a single provider, while others like the iPhone 4S span different networks with slightly different features. There is no definite answer when it comes to the question of the “best” smartphone, but by considering the following features you will be able to make a decision of your own.
Screen Clarity: Samsung’s Galaxy Note has an amazing 1280 x 800 pixel resolution to put it on the top. This smartphone is a pocket tablet and there is nothing quite like it. Apple’s iPhone 4s follows closely with a pixel resolution of 960 x 640 and Motorola’s Droid phones with resolutions of 854 x 480 pixels tag along. The iPhones ppi (pixel per inch) is also the largest out there at 330 making it an excellent choice for high-definition lovers. The phone has an excellent retina display making for gorgeous viewing of everything from pictures to videos. Although the Galaxy note has more pixels than the iPhone, that can be contributed to its large size as it only has 284 ppi.
Screen Size: The largest screen size you can find is in the Samsung Galaxy Note at 5.3 inches. In comparison, the average smartphone screen is a mere 3.6 inches in size. The iPhone’s display comes in at only 3.5 inches to give you a feel for the competition. If you like larger phones, but the size of the Galaxy Note intimidates you, you could purchase Google’s Galaxy nexus with a curved screen that measures 4.65 inches. Well what about a phone’s thickness? The Droid RAZR is the thinnest and lightest phone. With a width of only 7.1 mm and a weight of 127 grams, it is a true lightweight, but only in size. The iPhone is 9.3 mm wide and the Nexus 8.84 mm in comparison.
Battery Life: A common problem for almost all smartphone users is battery life. Some people bring a charger with them wherever they go while others buy special batteries that not only add a longer life to their phone, but also extra bulk. Without any of these extras, the Droid RAZR gives the longest continuous talk time of 16 hours and 45 minutes. Although this is just talk time, it beat out similar phones like the Samsung Galaxy S 2 (11 hours 7 minutes), Motorola Atrix 2 (10 hours 43 minutes), and the iPhone 4s (8 hours). When comparing the talk times of all these phones you can really see which ones stand out and which phones have overall better batteries.
Camera: If you want a great camera on your phone for capturing life’s greatest moments on the go, you should try out the T-Mobile MyTouch Slide 4G, Samsung Galaxy S II, or the Apple iPhone 4S that all have eight megapixel cameras and some pretty cool software to go along with them for photo editing. According to tests run by PC World, all three of these phones were within .7 points of each other on a 100 point scale. The MyTouch has very sharp images, the Galaxy S II created the most evenly exposed photos, and the iPhone 4s makes an overall balanced picture quality that is hard to beat in the world of smartphones. There are phone with more than eight megapixels such as the HTC Titan II with 16MP but don’t be fooled by the big numbers. The camera is actually only a few mm wide so you may be getting worse pictures than you would with 8MP phones and choosing quantity over quality.
App Stores: While there is much debate on which is better — the Android Market or iTunes App Store — you may want to familiarize yourself with both stores by playing games or trying apps on other people’s phones or at the retailer.
Both stores are very large but there are some slight differences between them. The Android Market offers a much larger percentage of free apps than iTunes (approx. 66% compared to iTunes 34%). Some would argue that the quality of apps on the iTunes store is better since they charge money but many of the same apps are available at both stores. For instance, Angry Birds is free for Android but $1 on iTunes. On Android Market you can also try out apps for 15 minutes to see if you like them, a feature unavailable on iTunes.
By looking at carriers and phones in these categories, you may be able to make a better and more educated purchase when shopping for a smartphone to fit your needs. Overall, there is not a clear winner but based on your preferences you will be able to make an informed decision about which phone and which service offers the best benefits to you.