Don’t forget to check the following essential phone specs for a great smartphone shopping experience!
13 Mobile Phone Specs To Consider When Buying a New Smartphone
Phone Specifications (“Specs”) Definition: The technical characteristics and features of a mobile phone.
1. Build Quality
The quality of the build of your smartphone determines its durability. Build for a mobile phone can be classified generally on the material used to make it: metal or plastic.
Phones with a metal build generally look more sophisticated and modern, and are usually more durable. However, they’re prone to getting dents.
Their plastic counterparts, on the other hand, are cheaper but aren’t as long-lasting.
Aside from what material was used, it’s also good to check their quality. Some metal or plastic parts are made more durable than others to withstand everyday use and shocks from accidental drops.
2. Operating System
The operating system is the master software of a smartphone. Working in tandem with the processor, the OS manages the phone’s programs and apps and dictates the gadget’s user interface.
Some of the available OS in the market include:
The last two are the most popular in the world. That’s not surprising at all since Android and iOs are both excellent operating systems.
Which one suits you best? Now that’s the question.
Here are a few things you have to consider when it comes to determining whether Android or iOS is for you:
The iOS is limited to iPhones and as you know, they have quite the price tag. Android, on the other hand, is licensed out to other mobile phone companies hence the benefit of variety, scale, and wider price options.
Organizing millions of apps is one heck of a task — one that neither the Play Store nor the App Store has yet perfected. Apple’s App Store, though, does a better job of curating recommendations and giving a smooth browsing experience.
Many Android smartphones come with wireless charging and fast-charging features. While Apple’s latest models now come with the same capabilities, Apple’s fast-charging adapters are sold separately, unlike Android phones where they usually come with the box.
Software updates and security patches for the iOS are consistent and timely. You’ll get this same service on Android, but only with the Google Pixel phones.
Android has always been the king of customizability. This OS allows users to change the theme of their phones, play around with shortcuts and widgets, lay out their home screens, and even totally change the whole user interface with the use of launchers.
As sleek and sophisticated as the iOS interface is, it still doesn’t give the same degree of freedom as Android.
Ease of Use
Android being more complicated than iOS is a popular notion. If customization isn’t a requirement, both platforms provide impressive options for certain functions.
Simplicity and intuitiveness-wise, the iOS beats Android. It’s less cluttered, more streamlined, and uniform across all iOS devices.
Messaging and Calling
Overall, both operating systems have great messaging and calling features.
For Android though, it can be a little confusing. For a time, it seemed like Google was integrating its communication functionalities into Hangouts, then confusingly released Duo and Allo, too.
Users can also send SMS messages through the Android Messages app, which used to be Google Messenger. Furthermore, a lot of Android phones tend to come with their very own dialer and messaging apps on top of Google’s.
As for iOS, FaceTime and iMessage makes digital communication so easy and smooth. The sort of downside is these apps works best when talking only with fellow iOS users.
Both platforms come with quick-to-set-up and easy-to-use default email apps but Gmail, being the most popular email address system in the world, is a stronger default app.
Android’s Photos app comes with unlimited storage. If you’re okay with the megapixel and resolution limit, this might be the better option.
If you don’t want to lose the quality of your photos when backing up, getting a Google Pixel phone might be your best choice. Through it, you can back up unlimited photos and videos in their full resolution.
Its iOS counterpart, the iCloud, on the other hand, lets you back up files at their original resolution, but the default storage is only 5GB. However, the good news here is you can also use Google Photos on Apple devices.
While both platform’s voice assistants can make your life easier, Google Assistant is more versatile and smarter than Siri. The latter can help with more straightforward tasks like:
- Setting calendar reminders
- Searching the web
- Making calls
On the other hand, Google Assistant can pre-emptively give useful suggestions, is more conversational, and can offer contextual information based on what you are doing.
If we look at the numbers, iOS is generally safer than Android. Studies have found that majority of malware, worms, and viruses were made for Android.
This might be because of Android’s global scale and its open approach. Moreover, Apple follows a stricter control of the apps available on the App Store to avoid letting malware get through.
Apple beats Android in this area by a mile. The existence of the Apple Store and the lack of an Android equivalent for it give iPhone users the better assurance when it comes to solving smartphone problems.
3. Screen Size
The size of the screen also dictates the size of the phones. Screen sizes are categorized as such:
- Small Screen (5 in. or smaller) – Choose a small-screen phone if you want a compact design. It will fit perfectly in your pocket, and you won’t have to stretch your thumb to reach for anything. Some of the best small-screen smartphones are the iPhone 8 and Google Pixel 2.
- Medium (5 to 5.5 in.) – Phones with this screen size provide a great balance between a pocket-friendly design and a still impressive entertainment experience. Some notable choices include the LG X power and the old, but still gold Samsung Galaxy S7.
- Large (5.5 in or larger) – also known as “phablets,” larger screens are great for watching videos, reading e-books, and playing games.
4. Display Quality
The display quality affects your overall smartphone experience. Color quality and the phone’s battery consumption rate are heavily dependent on the type of display installed on the phone.
Currently, some of the best screen displays are Retina Display, OLED, AMOLED, and Super AMOLED. If you want a good and crisp display, go full HD with screens with 1920 X 1090 pixels.
If you’re willing to shell out big bucks, you can buy high-end phones with quad-HD resolutions that can go as high as 560 x 1440 pixels.
Choosing a phone with a good processor means faster app open times, smoother gaming, and quicker photo editing. A solid phone processor translates to a lag-less smartphone experience.
Currently, Apple’s A11 Bionic processor, which is in the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, is the fastest mobile chip. It takes only 42 secs to edit a 4K video on the A11, a job that takes 3 minutes for the Pixel 2 and over 4 minutes for the Samsung Galaxy S8+.
To come up with an informed decision, browsing websites like Geekbench for performance results and reviews can help.
The better the RAM, the better your smartphone multitasking experience is. Getting a device with a fair amount of RAM will prevent your smartphone from running slowly when using multiple applications.
Do not go with handsets with just 1GB of RAM — getting at least 2GB of RAM is the standard.
Currently, you can buy phones with RAMs as high as 8GB, like the Razer Phone, which is specially designed for gaming.
Related: Top 5G Phones To Expect in 2019
7. Internal Storage
Depending on how you plan on using your phone, getting as much internal storage as possible pays off. Apps and games can take up space, not to mention high-res photos and videos, too!
The minimum storage of most handsets is 8GB. If you take a lot of photos and videos and like gaming, buying a phone with more storage might be the best choice for you.
MicroSD cards can expand your storage, but it’s only compatible with most Android phones, not with iPhones.
8. Battery Life
How long a smartphone can hold a charge is a crucial factor one must consider when buying a new phone. A phone’s battery is measured in milliampere-hours or mAh—the larger the number, the larger the capacity.
While a phone’s battery capacity is indicative of how long it can last, the longevity is affected by the display type, the processor, and the OS. Get a phone with a battery with at least 3000 mAh for the best shot for longer battery life.
The key is finding the right balance between battery life and performance. Phones that can last over 10 hours straight with LTE or 4G surfing are definitely a steal!
9. Network Capabilities
While a smartphone’s connectivity support is dependent to the processor it runs on, it is crucial to figure out the network capabilities of a phone.
LTE connectivity provides the fastest data transfer speeds nowadays, so make sure to check if the modem of the phone you want supports LTE connectivity. It’s also important to check its maximum speeds on its LTE bands.
Maximum speeds are rated in categories such as Cat6, Cat11, and Cat18, with higher numbers representing better speeds. LTE-Advanced handsets are faster than standard LTE phones.
10. IP Rating
IP (Ingress Protection) rating measures how well a gadget can repel water and dust. These ratings are managed by the International Electrotechnical Commission.
- The first number after the IP refers to the phone’s “solid particle” or dust protection capability. For smartphones, the rating goes from “0,” no protection at all, to “6,” meaning it’s “dust tight” and no particles can get inside the casing.
- The next number refers to the “liquid ingress” (water) protection capability. For smartphones, the rating starts from “0,” no protection at all, to “8,” which means continuous immersion in water.
There are also higher numbers used. For example, “9K” means the phone or gadget can withstand water with high-temperature. For smartphones though, IP68 is the standard.
Manufacturers, however, are given the flexibility to define the “8” in IP68. You’ll see this defined in every smartphone specs sheet — this is the depth and duration the phone can withstand beyond continuous immersion.
Companies are not obliged to specify IP ratings and the use of marketing terms, such as “waterproof” and “splashproof” are legal. Always check the specs sheet to learn more about these claims.
The camera has undeniably become one of the most important parts of a smartphone. We live in an era where capturing moments, both mundane and special, has become easy and accessible with the help of technology.
A lot of smartphones boast cameras with at least 12 megapixels. This alone doesn’t produce outstanding photos — check the image quality, aperture, speed, and features too!
The aperture refers to the size of the hole where light passes before it reaches the sensor. The larger the hole, the more light can pass through, which is ideal for low-light situations.
If you’re ready to spend big on your next smartphone, iPhone’s newest releases pack some of the most impressive camera features in the market. The iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X come with dual back cameras with true 2x optical zoom and a camera mode specifically for portraits.
12. Security System
Smartphones have different security systems. You can lock and unlock most handsets by providing a pattern, password, or passcode.
Some high-end models, though, have stronger and more reliable security systems. The newest iPhones, for example, now employ a facial recognition security system to replace their previous Touch ID system.
13. Other Features
Waiting for your phone to be fully charged can be a bummer sometimes. If you want to speed up the process, you can purchase a phone that offers fast charging.
Google Pixel 2, for example, is reported to get 7 hours of power in just 15 minutes. For Android lovers, ask if your model of choice supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 4.0 or an earlier version of the standard.
With iPhones, on the other hand, you can enjoy the fast charging feature after buying the separate USB-C power adapter and a USB-C to Lightning Cable.
For a more impressive visual experience, getting a phone with HDR support brings you a broader range of colors, richer pictures, and more details on the display. To enjoy HDR viewing, you’ll need an app like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video that can play videos in the correct format, and a phone that comes with HDR support.
Today, there are quite a number of smartphones with this feature. You’ll often see models with HDR10 support and the Dolby Vision take on HDR, which offers more colors and improved contrast compared with HDR10.
As HDR is now fairly standard in phones, and chances are that the new model you’ll choose will have this feature. Make sure to check the mentions of its display panel quality and the resolution because these are important for a superb viewing experience.
Watch these tips on buying new phone in this video from CNET:
With all the choices in the market, shopping for a smartphone can be quite overwhelming. Whatever your needs, priorities, and budget are, you’ll find the right phone for you. Just keep in mind these essential phone specs to guide you in making the best decision.
Which smartphone are you planning to get? Let us know in the comments section below!