After a brand-new smartphone but not sure what features you should be considering? Read on and worry no longer.
Screen size, resolution, storage and processor speed: these are the features we all know about when it comes to smartphones. That’s mainly thanks to how much phone manufacturers bang on about those features, making it sound as though that’s all you ever need worry about. However there are many other important features to consider when you’re on the hunt for a new phone. Here are a few of the more useful ones.
While it's slowly coming back into vogue, there was a dark time there when phone manufacturers eschewed the humble MicroSD slot. The lack of expandable memory options was often a bit of a budget killer, forcing people into paying for more sizeable onboard memory or relying on cloud storage services. Expandable memory lets you snap and video away to your hearts content and, more importantly, lets you bring everything with you when you change phones. It's worth looking out for.
The “IP” in IP rating stands for Ingress Protection and it lets you know just how secure your phone is against dust, grime and moisture. That last one is the biggie, as anyone who’s ever held a wet phone while screaming for a bag of rice will know. An IP rating is two numbers, the first between 1 and 6 and the second between 1 and 8. It’s the second that refers to water resistance and that’s really the one to watch out for. An IP rating of X7 means that your phone can be submerged in up to a metre of water for a short period of time without it being a problem, while anything over 4 means it’s splash resistant at the very least. Want to know more about water resistance and what to do if your phone takes an inadvertent dunking? Click here.
Big screens mean there's a lot more real estate to damage when you drop your phone. And you will drop your phone because you’re human. Add to that the current trend for bezel-free designs and glass backs and you’ll be excused for treating your phone like a Fabergé egg.
Keep an eye out for phones that offer hardened or drop resistant glass. It doesn’t turn your phone into a diamond, but it will add an extra layer of protection from butterfingers, literal or otherwise. Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 is the current gold standard, offering an 80 percent survival rate for a 1.6m drop onto a rough surface, in careful testing conditions of course. There’s a list of manufacturers using Gorilla Glass 5 right here.
You will be disappointed in your phone's battery life. That’s just a fact. While batteries are definitely bigger than they once were, we demand more from our phones, whether that’s high-resolution screens, big processors or just the fact we use them to run our lives and all of that takes a lot of battery power.
So what you really want is a fast charging phone, meaning that you can "splash and dash" a little power during the day so that you’re not running on fumes come 5pm. Different manufacturers will have different fast charge options, but they do tend to rely on you using the charger that came with the phone.
Oppo, for example, uses a system called VOOC that will charge your battery back to 75 percent in just 30 minutes, but only with the supplied charger. Many phones that rely on Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology (not surprisingly, those that use Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors) will likewise rapidly charge with the supplied charger only.
It’s ok to buy within your budget. Flagship smartphones can set you back just shy of $2,000 or pop you in a long-term contract, all for something you may need to upgrade in a year. But you can find feature rich phones to match your budget with a simple bit of shopping around.