Comex smartphone buying guide

There are few things that have had an impact in the last decade like the rise of the smartphone. In a few short years, these devices have gone from being a luxury to a necessity that we feel a compulsive need to always have around us.

Which makes picking the right phone such a big deal and these days, the sheer amount of choices have become more of a bane than a boon?

At COMEX 2015, you will find phones from some of the world’s top manufactures in ready supply. From the cheap and cheerful such as the Xiaomi Redmi, the mid-range powerhouse like the Oppo R7 and the high end flagships like the Apple iPhone 6, you will find phones of all shapes and sizes.

To help you pick the right mobile companion, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before parting with your hard earned cash.

Criteria 1: OS

The first question you have to ask yourself is what Operating System (OS) you want. The OS is, of course, the core software that powers your device.

At the moment, there are 4 major types of phone OS’s:

Apple iOS: Known for its simplicity and ease of use, iOS boasts the most diverse range of mobile apps and services. You will be hard pressed to find a mobile interface that is as easy to pick up and play as iOS. iOS is also the best place to access Apple’s services such as iMessage, FaceTime etc. so if you are heavily invested in Apple’s ecosystem, chances are you will want to stick with iOS. However, iOS is famous for being restrictive and in recent months, other OS’s are starting to become as easy to use and as aesthetically attractive as Apple’s offering.

Google Android: The world’s most popular mobile OS, Android is an ever evolving beast. Its open source nature means that it is available on a wide variety of devices at a wide variety of price points. That same open source nature also means that when it comes to flexibility and customization, Android has no equal so if you enjoy people able to tinker with your tech and making it truly unique, get yourself an Android device. However the issue of quality is a constant problem for Android because you get such a different experience across the plethora of Android devices.

BlackBerry OS: BlackBerry may be seen as bit of a dinosaur these days but in OS 10, Blackberry has reminded us once more why the company is still relevant. The OS is amazing for busy professionals with its integrated inbox system and other proprietary software. However, the sparse app store and limited hardware variety will mean that the OS will always remain a niche offering.

Windows Mobile: Window’s mobile is what you would expect from the Redmond based company, robust, efficient and a bit left field. If you like it, no other OS will do but like Blackberry, its relatively small app store and less intuitive UI means that Windows Mobile will always be a niche product.

Criteria 2: Size

There are 3 basic phone form factors you should be aware of, each with its own pros and cons.

Phablet: A portmanteau of phone and tablet, phablets are phones that, on average have screens of 5.3 inches or more. The larger screen size makes such phones fantastic for tasks like watching videos or typing but the added heft means that they take up more place in the pocket are less comfortable to hold and are more expensive. Common phones in this category include the iPhone 6 plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Standard: Standard size phones are the most common type of phones and range from budget devices like the One Plus One to ultra-high end devices like the Samsung Galaxy S6. Such phones often have screen of 4.7-5 inches and have the right mix of power and portability.

Compact: At one point, it seemed that every phone had a compact version but these days, people are doing so much on their phones that the smaller screen of compact phones are just not enough but if you want something that is pocket friendly, easy to carry and light, phones like the 4.5 inch Motorola Mote E are a great choice.

Criteria 3: Specs

These days, phones are as powerful as fully sized PC’s, making understanding their spec sheets as complicated as their PC counterparts.

The trick here is to understand what you want to use the phone for. Do you really need a phone with a 10-core CPU? Do you really need a phone with 4GB RAM? Well, most likely not unless you are heavy mobile gamer or use your phone for intense processing tasks.

For the average user, most phones have more than enough processing power to deal with everyday tasks. After all, the higher the specs, the higher the price!

What you should be aware of in particular are the camera and the screen. Be sure you scrutinize the screen in particular, look out for words like ‘laminated’ and ‘FHD’, both of which are good things. As for the camera, make sure the zoom is good and don’t be fooled by inflated megapixel counts. You will actually find that the cameras from mid-tier brands like Xiaomi and Oppo to be as good as those from established smartphone makers like Samsung and LG.

Criteria 4: Extra features

Phone makers trip over themselves these days to introduce a hot new gimmick. From 3D screens to fingerprint scanners to a sensor that checks the amount of oxygen in your blood. Then you have phones that are waterproof, heatproof and dust proof.

Again, such gimmicks are nice to have but should not be the sole reason you decide on a phone. Look real hard at such features and then think about your average day.

Summary

Overall though, it is a great time to buy a smartphone. The tech is as good as it has ever been and more importantly, good phones are becoming more affordable every day. There is now literally a different phone for every kind of lifestyle, it’s just a matter of finding yours.

Happy hunting!