‘Tis the season to send and receive gifts! And what better gift to give someone than a feature phone or a laptop? As you’re about to make purchasing decisions, let us discuss some factors to consider when buying a device.
I get asked a lot for my opinion on which is the best device whenever a friend wants to make a purchase. More often than not, they just expect a simple, linear answer like “Google Pixel is the best phone” (It actually is). But I don’t think such a thing exists. For starters, even the qualifier “best” is subjective.
There are countless choices when you want to buy a new device. The “best” device will be the one that addresses all your needs fairly. No device is perfect. There are always a few compromises here and there. Before I rank a phone as the best for me, I consider the interplay of the following metrics:
A higher battery capacity (in terms of mAh) does not necessarily translate to a better battery performance. Other factors like screen size, CPU, screen resolution and ecosystem (more on this later) play a part. Before you make a choice, you may want to consider its average screen-on time and standby time.
Screen-on time refers to the number of hours you can keep your phone’s screen on before the battery runs down from 100% to ~5%. Standby time refers to how long the phone’s battery will last when it is just sitting idle. Due to how a phone’s software handles background activities, some phones have very terrible standby time. If you are an avid phone user, always checking Twitter, Facebook and the likes, then screen-on time should matter more to you. But if you are a casual user and you need your phone on from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. due to average usage, then place more weight on the standby time.
You can watch reviews on YouTube or read many tech reviews before settling for a device. On YouTube, I’d recommend MKBHD.
Some people want to have their entire digital footprint on the fly. Some people want Mass Effect 3, FIFA 2016, Windows 10 ISO , Microsoft Office 2016 and BluRay versions of Captain America: Civil War, Batman vs Superman, Suicide Squad, Ghostbusters, and the entire nine seasons of ‘The Big Theory’ in 720p file format on their phone. If you fit in this category, a 32GB phone without a micro SD card slot will constantly depress you. Consider your storage habits when choosing a device.
For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that the more pixels a phone’s camera packs, the better the camera. If you are going to be taking a lot of photos, this metric should be given a lot of weight. Some cameras do better than others in low light conditions. Others over-saturate some colors while others have front-facing flash. Some also have slow shutters. If you identify where you’re likely to take photos, you can make a good choice when buying a new device.
Size of device
Do you have large palms? Fancy a phablet? Do you want a phone that can fit easily in your pocket? When in a taxi, do you want the guy sitting next to you to see what’s on your screen? Are you clumsy with huge devices? Get answers to these and more before settling for a device.
You should also consider the build material when purchasing a new phone. If you want people to judge your device by its looks, then you should opt for a sleek-looking device. If you are concerned about weight, overheating and dents, you could opt for a non-metal phone. However, your preference is to have a “premium-looking and premium-feeling” phone, then you can consider metallic phones. I personally don’t mind how my phone looks because I always hide my devices in cases.
Some brands automatically stand out when it comes to mobile phones. People are more likely to associate luxury, class and style with iPhones than with Yong Chin Hao Bluetooth phones. Brands like Apple, Samsung and Google have been tried and tested to be of better quality. Also, it is easier to replace parts when the need arises. If you want your phone to reflect your level of wealth and affluence, you might want to opt for a well-known brand. However, if you just want a device that you can use to forward WhatsApp jokes, you can opt for Yong Chin Hao. It may probably come with the ability to cook rice too.
The most popular ecosystems are Windows, iOS and of course, Android. All of these come with their perks. Even if you decide to choose Android, you’d have to consider which OEM works best for you: This includes, but not limited to Touchwiz, Sense and Stock Android.
Ease of customization
Customization (on Android) is in two forms: (i) Superficial, which includes installing a new home launcher and an icon pack and (ii) Thorough, which involves installing a custom kernel, uninstalling system apps and even installing a custom ROM. If your idea of customization is changing your font style, icon pack and home launcher, you should gravitate towards a device that allows you to do so. But if you want to root and install custom mods, you wouldn’t want to go for a rare device.
Developer support base
If you are experimental and love installing custom ROMs and mods, it is prudent to select a device that the developer community fancy. This way, you’re assured of variety of flavors and support in case something goes wrong.
Frequency of updates
Latest versions of software help your device run more quickly and efficiently, bring new features, fix bugs and more. Some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers. Examples include Samsung, HTC, Lenovo and Huawei) are very notorious when it comes to providing software updates regularly and on time (ahem…Samsung…ahem). If you are a software enthusiast and care so much about using the latest software available, then you should give more weight to the frequency with which you are likely to receive updates when making a decision. Based on this, you may want to go in for the latest flagship from your favorite OEM or a Pixel device.
Ultimately the factor that rubbishes all the careful considerations you may have made. What will you do if the phone you want to buy costs $1,000 and your budget is $400? Due to budgetary constraints, sometimes, after conducting your research and making your choice, you’d realize you have to settle for the next best option you have. But don’t worry, just take some few steps down and begin the process again.
Let us know what you consider before buying a device
Featured image credit: forbes.com