Since the smartphone boom of 2008, the consumer electronics market has been won over by mobile phones that offered unimagined features packed in the unassuming capacity of a Smartphone. They had everything that we needed. Multiple megapixel cameras, higher RAMs, better processors, bigger screens and most impressively, Android OS which has been a revolution from the very day it was launched. The trend has continued and new smartphones are being released every month by new manufacturers with newer features and lower prices.
Today a newly bought smartphone hardly takes two months before its specs are completely outdated by a new smartphone for the same price. It has kicked-off a race for the smartphone manufacturers to deliver a smartphone which is better than the best smartphone available today. The consequent effect of this race has given us overly loaded smartphones that we don’t really require, but, because they boast the latest features, they are too attractive to miss out.
The top-end phones that came out in 2016 offer 6GB of RAM, 8 cores at more than 2.5 GHz, 21 MP of camera and ultra HD screen resolution. Fascinating, right? But do you really need such a powerhouse of a smartphone? Maybe. Maybe not. Let us find out what all these features really mean to you and how to choose a phone that you really need.
We’ll talk about every aspect of a smartphone that should affect you in certain ways in accordance with your requirements.
Most of the smartphones these days have a touch-screen display which acts as a window between the user and the world of possibilities the technology has to offer. The display must have a clear and sharp visual quality which is determined by the pixel density or the Pixel Per Inch (PPI). A pixel is basically the smallest unit of memory which stores photographic information of a particular image. As many pixels would there be in an image, as much detail, the image would be able to store. These pixels are given by the resolution of the display, which is the maximum number of pixels it can contain.
The standard called “HD” (High Definition) has a resolution of 1080p; similarly, 4K UHD display would have a resolution of 2160p.
While choosing the best display for yourself, you must keep in mind your preference for visual quality on your phone. Some of us have vision problems while some of us spend too much time on our phone, playing games and watching movies, for such preferences, high-resolution displays are advised. The other lot simply uses the phone for texting, calling and operating a limited range of applications that don’t take much of their daily time. For such users, the display resolution would not matter much and their requirements would be easily met by low-resolution displays such as 480p or 720p. A decent amount of money can be saved if you choose according to these guidelines.
Further, we can talk about the technology used in the making the display which is the higher the better. The most basic displays today, have the TFT-LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) technology which is becoming outdated with time. IPS-LCDs are still advisable if all you want is decent picture quality. Then come, the OLED and AMOLED displays which are costlier and would be an absolute pleasure for the eyes to look at, if required so, howsoever sucking at the battery life big time.
The Processor and the RAM duo
The processor is the unit of your phone that carries out about a billion calculations every second so that your phone can deliver what you have asked it for. The processing power of your phone should be directly in proportion with your purpose of use.
The clock frequency determines the number of calculations the processor can carry out in one second, therefore higher the clock frequency, faster the phone would work which also means that faster the battery would drain as well.
The number of cores would decide how efficiently the phone carries out the given tasks, for example, two people can do a job quicker at a time than a person who has to do two jobs alone. So, multiple cores are advisable but in sets of four; quad core or Octa core. The self-claiming hexa, hepta or penta core phones have not made it up to expectations.
The RAM is another important aspect of a good performance. The RAM allows you to multitask easily. Phones sporting 1GB or lesser RAM, are harder to run with a lot of applications, phones with up to 3GB of RAM provide the best performance whereas a RAM of 4 or 6GB would be unnecessary in a phone for the app standards of 2016. Maybe in a few years, we would require that much, but not today.
Therefore, you can pick your specification according to your need. For basic functionality seekers, a minimum of a dual core processor at 1 GHz+ frequency and 2 GB of RAM are perfect options. For avid users like gamers and on-the-go campaigners, Quad core with 1.5 to 2 GHz frequency and 2–3 GB of RAM will do just fine, whereas Octa-core processors with 2 GHz+ frequency with 3–4 GB of RAM would do well. Anything beyond that would just act as an unnecessary extension.
The camera is a feature that has recently gained a new meaning in the smartphone market. The myth still waits to be busted, though, that more megapixels make your camera phone better. Megapixels increase the pixel density of the image whereas the final image quality would still depend on a number of things.
We have recently seen the evidence for the same when Samsung dropped Megapixels in its latest flagship S7 to 12MP from its predecessor S6 which had a 16MP camera. S7 supposedly has advanced features that don’t require more MPs and same is the case with the iPhone.
If all you want is good pictures, casually taken at get-togethers, or perhaps just decent selfies, a phone’s camera would not bother you much and anything around 5 to 8 Megapixel with basic features such as autofocus would do it for you. For the ones seeking to explore their photography talent through their phone can choose high-end phones which support 12–16 MP of the camera with features like HDR shot, Photosphere, laser focus and Slow Shutter. These can’t obviously match a pro-camera but can manage enough for your dilettantism.
A phone camera can click good enough pictures if it packs a bundle of high-tech features. These features are basically a part of the software or the App line up, as not much can be put in the compactness of the phone’s camera. However, we have seen pretty decent advancement in this segment.
The Battery Life
A phone with all its plausible features may still get a beat with its battery life. The battery life is measured in mAh (milli-Ampere-hour) which denotes electrical power. The general expectation from a phone is that a bigger battery capacity is better anyway, but not necessarily so. It depends on you, the more feature packed phone you choose, the more you loose on battery life as a high-end display, processor and camera are all big battery consumers.
Very few models offer competent battery life in regard to these features. However, you need not compromise on anything. If you require your phone to go about two to three days without a wall charger, you can always go for a Powerbank while you play it non-stop. If you have access to a wall charger, the latest feature called Fast-Charge or Turbo-Charge can be looked for in a phone which will save you precious time to keep it running.
Price to Build Quality Ratio
If you are a long term investor then it is advisable that you don’t buy a budget phone. The phone that promises a lot of great features at a budget price, compromises on its build quality. After a year or maximum two, the phone will lose all its charm and promise. High-end phones which offer similar features at almost double the price are the ones that might actually survive till they are eventually outdated enough to be used.
The phone’s resale value drops terribly drops once it has been bought and used which kills your plan of buying a new phone every 6 months at half the price. If you don’t want to spend a whopping 20 to 30K on your smartphone, then you can wait for the latest phones to get a little old so that their price drops up to your pocket allowance which is bound to happen considering the speed with which new smartphones are being released.
You can then wisely choose your required specs according to our discussion because a phone never gets outdated just because there is a better phone in the market for the same price but because everyone wants to buy the newer phone without knowing their needs well.