Are you spending hours looking for your next cell phone?

Are you unsure about which one will suit you?

Homer Simpson in a crowd, pointing to himself saying

Fear not! Think about what you want in a cell phone first, then find one that suits your needs.

Step 1: Budget

Ching, ching, ching!

Child throwing money out of a window

What's your budget? You may not know what you want to spend yet, but here are some ballpark figures:

  • Regular phone — $25+ USD

  • Smartphone — $100 to $1000+ USD

As a general rule of thumb, the more you spend, the more (and higher spec) features you'll get.

Step 2: Regular Or Smart?

Not everyone wants a smartphone!

Dog using phone

All cell phones can make and receive phone calls and messages, but smartphones can do a lot more!

Do you want to:

  • Capture high-quality images and video?

  • Listen to music and watch videos?

  • Browse the internet?

  • Have a tool for navigation and location purposes?

  • Have a virtual assistant to help you accomplish tasks?

  • Check weather and temperature information?

Answered yes to one or more of the above? Go to Step 3, as a smartphone may be for you.

Answered no to most or all of the above? You probably want a regular cell phone!

Step 3: Operating System (OS)

A what?!

An operating system (OS) is the most important software on a cell phone. It allows you to interact with the device. Without one, it would be about as useful as a brick.

A woman holding up an old style cellphone that turns into a brick

Today's smartphones primarily use Google's Android or Apple's iOS operating systems. Android is available on smartphone models from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and Asus amongst others, whereas iOS is only available on Apple's own iPhone smartphone.

Apple iOS

  • Less customizable

  • More intuitive to use

  • Typically higher cost

  • Tighter security

Google Android

  • More customizable

  • Less intuitive to use

  • Typically lower cost

  • Looser security

Flaticon Icon

Top tip! If you already own Google or Apple products, both operating systems integrate well with other products of the same brand. It may make sense for you to stick to the same ecosystem.

Quiz

You already have an Apple iPad and want similar in a phone. What may be the best option for you?

An Android smartphone

An Apple iPhone

Step 4: Screen Size

One size fits all? Definitely not.

Smartphone screen sizes are typically measured diagonally from the upper left-hand corner of the screen to the lower right-hand corner. The three most common screen sizes are 5, 5.5 and 6+ inches.

Tape measure

Get a smaller screen if...

  • You have smaller hands.

  • You use your cell phone with one hand.

  • You want a phone that can easily fit inside a pocket.

  • You don't work on your phone.

  • You don't play a lot of games and/or watch a lot of movies and videos.

Get a larger screen if...

  • You have larger hands.

  • You use your cell phone with two hands.

  • You have a large-screen cell phone already and you like it.

  • You work on your phone.

  • You play a lot of games and/or watch a lot of movies and videos.

Quiz

You're on the road a lot with your job and need to use your phone for virtual meetings. What size screen may be better for you?

Larger screen

Smaller screen

Step 5: Processor, Memory And Storage

The world is full of technical jargon, but the processor, memory, and storage are the most important components of any smartphone.

Brain icon

Processor (CPU)

The processor = the brain of a smartphone.

  • Video editing, games, and multitasking benefit from faster processors.

Storage box iconStorage

Hoarders need more storage!

  • Most smartphone owners are OK with 64GB.

  • Storing lots of photos, videos, and games? Consider more.

RAM icon

Memory (RAM)

More memory = multitasking power

  • 4GB is a good figure to aim for with average use.

  • You may want more or less than this depending on your needs.

Step 6: Camera And Security

Cameras are creative and security is serious. What links the two? They're both important phone features that you can tailor to your needs.

Camera icon

Camera

Are you snap-happy?

Your average phone camera is a "jack of all trades". You may also want an additional specialist lens:

  • Macro — great for close-up shots

  • Telephoto — super for zooming into subjects

  • Wide — ideal for fitting more into your landscape shots

Padlock icon

Security

Not to be underestimated.

  • Many smartphones offer the ability to "unlock" them with your face or fingerprint.

  • If you don't want biometrics (voice or fingerprint ID, face/iris scans), then all phones offer a pin code option to grant access.

Quiz

You like to take pictures of flowers and insects in your garden. What camera should you look for?

Telephoto

Wide

Macro

Still Not Sure? Ask!

Flaticon Icon

Want to get hands-on? Pop to your local cell phone retailer and have a play around! The customer service reps will be able to help you with any questions you might have.

Assorted phones laid out on tablePhoto by Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash

Take Action

Having a cell phone that meets your needs can not only save you frustration but also money.

Man holding money and saying 'Now I'm an expert...shut up and take my money!'

It's not a two-minute job to pick the right cell phone! There are many things to consider:

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This Byte has been authored by

MC

Matt Colledge

Helping others one Byte at a time!