Here’s A Free Bite-Sized Phone Guide Checklist
Smartphone buying doesn’t have to be a chore
Need a smartphone guide? I’ve got you covered.
Here’s why I made this phone guide checklist
If you don’t follow my work, here’s an intro. I’m that dude you approach for tech recommendations.
Smartphone buying doesn’t have to be restricted to recommendations from salespersons or tech enthusiasts. My dad assembled a computer in front of me as a child. When I set out to buy my first graphics card, I picked one with a green dragon on its packaging.
I don’t want anyone to make decisions like that. Ever.
Here’s a simple checklist that covers the basics with respect to smartphone hunting. The guide splits your decision into:
- Design (Build|Display|Camera)
- Performance (Battery|OS|CPU|RAM&Storage)
Here’s what you need to look for in a smartphone
First, pick a couple of phones with potential and get their spec sheets.
- Decide on the size (dimensions) and material. Both size and weight depend primarily on the screen size. A Gorilla Glass back/front further helps with durability.
- Look out for the phone’s security system. Apple’s Face ID is a step above most Android implementations but one can’t go wrong with a fingerprint sensor, be it under the screen or on the power button.
- Most Android phones have USB-C ports while iPhones opt for a Lightning port. Look out for a 3.5 mm jack and/or an IR emitter if you need them. GSMArena has great speaker tests.
- Check if the phone has multiple SIM slots and if it supports the necessary 4G/5G bands if you’ll be traveling to a different country.
- Pick the right screen size (inches). Large screens are great for consuming content but can be difficult to handle with one hand. Screen resolution doesn’t matter beyond 1080p for most users and refresh rate (60/120 Hz) determines how smooth animations and scrolling feel.
- AMOLED displays offer better contrast and brightness than their LCD rivals. Use reviews for metrics like brightness (nits) and HDR support.
- There are several types of lenses (Wide|Ultrawide|Telephoto|Periscope|Monochrome|Macro|Depth). Real-world image quality depends on imaging algorithms more than megapixels. If this sounds like work, stick to reviews with phone-specific explanations and photo comparisons.
GSMArena and DxOMark are great places for this.
- Look out for a good selfie camera if you need one. Value reviews and image/video comparisons over spec sheets. The latter also covers OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), slo-mo, and 4K video recording support among other niche features.
- Look into Battery quantity (mAh) and charging speeds (W). But trust battery life charts over them to determine battery life. GSMArena’s battery life charts offer battery estimates for a variety of use cases.
- Besides the usual iOS vs Android debate, look into which version of Android you’d be comfortable with. While most manufacturers no longer stuff their phones with bloat, some devices are closer to the vanilla Android experience.
- While Apple offers several updates to its phones, not every Android phone can promise the same. Updates are a luxury outside Google’s Pixel lineup and a handful of flagships.
- Apple’s A-series chips perform better and last longer than the chips in Android phones but the latter are still great at everything. While the midrange phones of today can handle most intensive tasks, you can still obsess over benchmarks if you’re into that sort of thing.
- RAM quantity isn’t a big deal these days, with even budget Android phones offering 4 GB of RAM or more. That’s more than enough unless you’re running games side by side with Chrome.
- SD card slots are becoming rarer with basic phones offering at least 64 GB of storage. Storage speed isn’t a cause for concern as most phones today offer UFS 3.1 storage.
I hope these get you started on smartphone hunting! GSMArena’s detailed spec sheets and reviews are great resources to get started.
Drop a comment if you’d like some help with purchasing a laptop (or any consumer tech).