10 Factors to Look at Before Buying a Device

If you are choosing a new phone and want guidance on what to use to decide which phone to buy, search no more! Here are 10 factors to look out for before getting a device.

  1. Storage: Storing your files on the cloud is becoming a preferred method of carrying your data around, but when one is offline, that data becomes inaccessible. A portable device will then be the preferred method of carrying your data around, especially so since it is available offline. Smartphone storage is a pretty big factor to look at when purchasing devices, as there are devices out there that only give 1GB of space to applications, causing the typical ‘Not enough memory’ problems. A 16GB or higher integrated internal storage device is always recommended.
  2. Connectivity: To LTE or not to LTE? Many carriers are providing 4G connectivity to their customers, and with the rise of LTE (4G), many OEMs are also implementing 4G connectivity into their devices (such as the new 64-bit MediaTek chipsets). If you are going for a long-term device, 4G would be preferred, as you may just be switching to a 4G enabled SIM card some time in the future.
  3. Operating system: Android, as everyone knows, is fragmented. This isn’t much of a problem, until you realize that OEMs have custom-skinned versions of Android. Samsung has their TouchWiz, and Xiaomi has their MIUI. However, a stock ROM would be preferred, as it provides a clean Android experience without any OEM bloatware getting in your way. Here’s the review of the Xperia C3 and why its OEM bloatware has caused problems for me. Most MediaTek devices have a clean stock Android feel though, as well as Google Play Edition devices, so finding one shouldn’t be a problem.
  4. Aesthetics: Some phones have a more rounded rectangular shape (which I personally prefer), and some phones have curves on either the top and bottom, or the back. If you are going to get a new phone, do make sure that whatever device you’re getting, you will feel comfortable holding it. A 5.5 inch screen usually means a bigger device that requires you to use both hands to operate (or you can always stretch your fingers), while a 5 inch screen usually means something that is pocket friendly. If possible, try out the devices first before getting it, if not, watch reviews online and see how the phones look like when held.
  5. Camera sensor: With all the fiasco with the IMX214 and IMX135 on the P7000 (it has since been resolved), it seems like already, the camera on a device matters a lot. Most people would opt to go for a smartphone rather than a DSLR camera nowadays, as smartphone cameras get better with each day. 13 megapixels is of course the industry standard (just… Look at the iPhone) for the rear camera, and 5 megapixels for the front camera. The type of sensor also matters too – A Sony sensor usually performs much better than an OmniVision sensor, and while the OEM software matters a lot too, a better sensor would be nice.
  6. Screen: Full-HD? HD? Screen resolution seems to be an on-going issue in smartphones nowadays, as OEMs battle to make their screens clearer. It has even gotten so ridiculous, that rumors have been leaked that Samsung is preparing for a 4K screen on the Note 5. Currently, a HD screen would suffice for clear graphics and everyday use, but if you would like to venture a little further, go for smartphones with Full-HD screens, as that may give even more clarity than typical HD screens.
  7. Endorsement: This one’s important. Sites like Droid Agency do reviews of devices so that you do not have to buy every single device just to know which one you want to use. Do check out channels such as ITXtutor, mayiandjay, and s7yler for MediaTek device reviews (and the occasional Samsung and HTC), and channels such as Pocketnow and Android Authority for the more mainstream devices such as the Galaxy S6 and the HTC One M8 (as of writing). Read as many reviews as you can too, and do not just focus on one channel for information on one device.
  8. Memory: The amount of RAM (or Random Access Memory) on a device usually determines how many apps the device can run at a given time. 2GB of RAM or more is usually recommended, as that usually gives some level of multitasking, especially on stock Android devices. A 2GB RAM device can usually handle a game running in the background, Chrome, and music all at once, and still have free RAM to handle graphics and system processes. A 1GB RAM device though, may have trouble handling the game running in the background, and may kill it to free more RAM for Chrome and the music – take the Elephone P10c, and the Elephone P2000 for example. School Idol Festival and Chrome can run concurrently on the P2000, but not on the P10c.
  9. Security: Security is not really a given issue on most devices, but on Chinese devices and certain mainstream OEM devices, they are. On Chinese devices sometimes, there are Chinese apps that may compromise the users’ security by sending private information to remote servers for collection. On some mainstream OEM devices too, Android bugs may not be fixed, causing potential security risks, even with the device unrooted. Android security is not always a problem though, and you will not need an antivirus software on your Android to prevent malware (thanks Google).
  10. Battery life: Ridiculous as it may seem, some Android devices can only last 4 hours of usage on battery. Battery life is always a problem when it comes to smartphones. As OEMs are pushing out smartphones with better battery life – Either by compensating using the software, or increasing the battery capacity (THL 5000), smartphone battery life is improving. There are though, smartphones out there that have batteries so incapable of holding up for even one day, that even turning on the screen makes the battery drain (MediaTek devices typically do this).

That concludes my list of things you have to look out for when buying a new smartphone! I hope this helps you, and I also sincerely hope you will not end up with a smartphone not meant for you.