Smartphones are ubiquitous. People use them for everything from checking email to taking wedding photos. Phones are not just for phone calls anymore. In fact, the average smartphone has 4,000 times the memory of the computers that sent Apollo 11 to the moon. There are many things to consider when choosing a smartphone. They include:
- Operating system
- Screen size and resolution
- Camera power
- Multimedia capability
- Processing power
- Durability, including intrinsic safeness
Not every phone will deliver on every count, so consumers must decide which items are the most important to fulfill their specific needs.
For all intents and purposes, in today's world, there are just two operating systems: Apple and Android. Windows phones, once so promising, have dropped to less than 2 percent of the market share and look to fall into complete death within a year or two. Each of the two big operating systems has characteristics to recommend it. Apple, for example, has a better messaging app, but Android offers a much better keyboard that includes punctuation on the same page as the letters. CNN offers a great resource that goes through "which wins what" between Android and Apple.
Some people have their favorites. For example, people who love screen clarity go with Samsung. Gadget fans love the Edge Sense® of HTC's U11, which allows the user to squeeze the phone with different pressure levels to open apps, which is mighty nifty. Users who swear by the iPhone appreciate the simplicity of the gesture system and the ability to synchronize all of their devices across one online identity. Anyone interested in purchasing a smartphone should research all of the available, wanted features and peruse applicable reviews from both customers and reputable testing companies before making the purchase.
Screen Size and Resolution
The biggest phones today have screens that are as big as entire phones were 10 years ago. Some of them are even the size of old-school tablets. The displays come with different levels of resolution, and the phones' costs reflect the power of the screens. Texters might not need the Super-AMOLED, top-of-the-line screen, but Netflix® streamers might. It's usually best to check out the phones in person.
It's not just about the megapixels anymore. Some of the best phone cameras have lower megapixel ratings than some of the worst. The best camera phones cost about $1,000, so it behooves anyone purchasing one to be absolutely sure of what one is getting. Although the iPhone 8 is rated the best new overall camera phone by CNET, the Google Pixel 2 has a better camera. The Pixel 2 was designed from the beginning as phone with which one would take stunning, sensational photos. Anyone without a $700, the cost of the Pixel 2, up to a grand to spend on a phone will have many choices, but the lower cost means a sacrifice in camera power. One must decide what is more important: cost or power.
Cameras are nice, but if a user wants to steam video, listen to music, and use the camera to rule Instagram, the chosen phone must have the multimedia chops to back it up. As stated, Samsung phones usually have the best screens while iPhones have the most apps. The disadvantage to the iOS App Store is that many of the best apps must be bought whereas a few of the best Android apps are free. Again, users must choose what is important to them and then select the phone that best fits those needs.
All smartphones today are more powerful than the desktop computers of even as few as five years ago. They can all handle multiple applications at once without any appreciable loss of speed. High-end users will need more power than run-of-the-mill users, however. As of the end of 2017, the best gaming processor came from Qualcomm® while the best overall processor for power was the Snapdragon 835. Tegrin, Exynos, and Kirin all make great processors too.
While most phones can stand a drop or two indoors, a fall onto concrete is usually fatal for the device in a number of ways. The screen might shatter, or the battery contacts might be destroyed. The phone might even split into pieces if the fall is bad enough. Water, also, is not a phone's friend. Immersion means instant phone death, and heavy rain means a week in a rice-filled jar and two minutes in a 150-degree oven.
What is Intrinsic Safeness?
Phones that intrinsically safe spark at less than 0.8 milliamp. They are certified for use in explosive environments, such as oil refineries, natural-gas processing plants, and certain areas containing transformers or other electrical equipment.
There are a few phones that are extra-rugged, intrinsically safe, or both. These phones conform to a standard called MIL-810-G. They can be dropped, often from heights of 30 feet or more, immersed in water for brief periods, and stand in the rain for hours. They can withstand blowing sand, low and high-pressure environments, and are classified as explosion-proof. Examples include the Bartec Pixavi and the Smart-Ex® 01, both of which are rated for what's known as Class I, Division I. Class I areas are those where flammable gases are airborne, and Division I means areas where such clouds of vapor are nearly always present or at least expected. These phones are powered by Android and come with cameras, multimedia features, and high-resolution screens under their Gorilla Glass®.
In all, buying a smartphone is an intensely personal choice. Users should weigh all the advantages and disadvantages of the units that interest them and make well-reasoned purchasing decisions.