“What phone should I buy?” – an age-old question asked by many a tech novice, and your older relatives.
The answer is, however, never a simple product name. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a phone.
While some people just want a phone to act like a phone, others want a phone that doubles as a digital camera or personal assistant.
So, here are a few questions you should ask yourself when deciding on a new smartphone:
1. What’s My Budget?
It may seem cynically practical to look at price first. But, not everyone can afford to splurge on an iPhone 7 Plus, or the latest premium flagship phone.
You’ll have to decide how much you are willing to spend on a device so that you can identify the class of phones you should be considering. For example, budget, mid-range, or premium?
Premium smartphone prices continue to rise, while mid-range phones are becoming more powerful with higher quality.
You’ll have to decide whether R15 000 is a reasonable price for a device in your eyes, or whether you want to be more conservative with your budget.
2. What Will I Use The Phone For Mostly?
Few smartphones are the best in every sphere. Huawei’s phones are known for impressive battery power, Samsung’s flagships have some of the best cameras, and Xiaomi has remarkable value-for-money.
You will need to decide which features of a phone are the most important to you. If you want to use it for casual photography, you’ll want a decent camera with good technology.
If you prefer a long battery life, however, you should be aiming for phones with batteries that are 3500mAh and above.
If you mainly just want a phone that performs decently, and that you can use for calls and messaging, there are a variety of mid-range handsets that perform well.
For adventurous and clumsy types, there are rugged and waterproof phones, which are less likely to break than their fragile peers.
A big factor for many is the design of the phone. But you need to consider whether this outweighs other features. Are you willing to sacrifice battery power for an oh-so-beautiful screen?
Before you can decide on a phone, and whether it is right for you, you’ll need to think what you value most in a handset.
3. How Important Is The Brand?
Some smartphone users still stick by the old tradition of brand loyalty, preferring to choose products from manufacturers they know.
But, how important is a brand to you?
With so much competition in the market, and even some of the best phone makers capable of creating flops, you might want to measure a phone by its merits, rather than its maker.
Of course, we’re not suggesting going with a brand that has no credibility whatsoever. Rather, expand your horizons to maybe include some other established brands you haven’t tried.
If you don’t trust any brand other than the one you currently own, however, you’ll have already narrowed down a range of options for yourself.
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4. What Do I Want From The Product Ecosystem?
Phones are no longer being marketed as stand-alone products, but part of a larger ecosystem.
For example, the LG G5 and the Moto Z were marketed alongside the various modules available for the phones.
Meanwhile, the iPhone 7 was specifically tailored for the Air Pods. And, Samsung shows of its Gear 360 Camera and VR headset whenever it demonstrates its flagship products.
iOS has a much more closed-off ecosystem than Android phones. So you’ll have a more limited range of products to choose from.
Some customers view this as a benefit. Apple makes its devices more effective with a specially-tailored ecosystem.
On the other hand, with Android being such a widespread operating system, you don’t have to worry as much about compatibility.
This is especially important for those who want a wide variety of choice and the ability to use cheaper alternatives to a certain brands’ products.
In recent years, Apple has opened its ecosystem more. The Huawei Watch, for example, is compatible with iOS. As are a variety of wireless earphones and other wearables.
But, Android continues to have the largest ecosystem. So you’ll have few problems making sure your Samsung smartwatch is compatible with your LG phone and your Xiaomi fitness tracker.
5. What Are My Deal Breakers?
With so much choice out there, it’s sometimes easier to use a process of elimination and see what’s left, rather than look at all the phones that seem good.
Decide what you consider a deal breaker for a handset and use this to guide your selection of options.
For some, it’s a phone that has no expandable storage. For others, it’s the price versus performance.
Deciding on your deal breakers will help you refine your search.