The 10 Most Important Specs When Choosing a Smartphone
Smartphones have become the dominant mobile device used in the Philippines today. As of March 2015, the Philippines is now the third largest market for smartphones in Southeast Asia. With Facebook and YouTube among the top 5 social media apps used by Filipinos today, it's little wonder that the purpose of the mobile phone has gone beyond the basic necessities of texting and calling.
In an age where smartphones rule the market, there are different models with their own advantages. High definition cameras, higher storage space, and more memory are just some of the many features we enjoy. The question then is, which specs should we be looking at? After all, new models are always being released into the market.
Here are 10 of the most crucial specs that we need to check before buying a smartphone:
This is arguably the most critical aspect—after all, a phone is only as good as its battery capacity. For easier reference, manufacturers usually measure battery performance in miliampere-hours (mAh). On average, smartphone phone battery capacities can start from 1700mAh and can go all the way up to 5000mAh of the Asus Zenphone Max. Some brands also state how many hours a phone can last on standby, talk, or media playback.
How much power you need depends on your lifestyle. If you’re not heavy on apps and just need something simple, anywhere up to 2000mAh is usually enough for the day. If you’re the type who regularly plays games or uses lots of apps, then a phone with a higher battery capacity is the one you need.
Whether you prefer Android or iOS, each operating system has its own benefits.
Android gives you more control over the apps you want and how your phone interface works. You can change the app launcher, download different themes, and even install different apps that don’t necessarily come from Google Play Store.
On the other hand, iOS gives you a centralized source for your apps and content. Unlike Android phones, files are loaded to the iPhone using iTunes instead of a standard file explorer. The iOS App Store is also the sole provider of applications that your iPhone will use, making it easier for you to search and add apps to your library.
Whether you want the flexibility of Android or the simplicity of Apple, it’s entirely up to your preferences.
No matter how updated your operating system is, your phone's processor needs to keep up with it in order to run the phone smoothly. When checking for the phone’s processor, the number of cores and the clock speed are what you need to watch out for.
More cores allow the phone to run more processes and functions. Phones can start from a dual core processor, like the iPhone 6S 16GB. Higher-end phones can have as much as up to 8 cores, like the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser 6.0 (ZE601KL).
Meanwhile, the clock speed determines how fast your device can work. At least 1.84 Ghz is the recommended minimum for average users to run their social media apps and make calls without too much trouble.
Your phone’s RAM is crucial to the multitasking element. From basic operating system functions to games, each app needs a bit of memory to function. The more memory you have, the more apps you can run on your phone.
Usually, phones with at least 2GB worth of RAM is enough for everyday tasks. If you’re a heavy user of apps and games, then consider investing in a phone with over 4GB of RAM so you can run more applications all at the same time.
Phone Screen Size
Smartphones are getting bigger, along with their screens. People who watch a lot of movies and play games can make full use of a phablet like the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, while casual users can make do with something smaller for everyday social media use and texting.
The trade-off is not only the need to use two hands to operate your phone. Another thing to take note of is the battery draw. Big screens demand more power than a smaller screen with similar specifications. This drawback might be addressed with a bigger battery, so you should check your potential phone’s power capacity as well.
SD Card Storage
This is a feature exclusive to Android phones. Having an SD card expansion slot allows you to store more files, regardless of your phone’s internal storage capacity. The advantage is that you don’t need to shell out more money for a new phone when you only need more storage. Depending on your phone, the expandable memory function can add anywhere from 8GB of extra space, to 200GB like the Samsung Galaxy S7.
And the decision to add more storage is up to you. Generally, apps run faster if they’re installed on your phone, leaving the SD Card free for your music and photos. If you’re heavy on apps or photos, then taking this route is highly recommended.
USB File Transfer
For wired connections, most phones USB cables to connect to computers. While USB 2.0 is the current standard for many devices, USB 3.0 is rapidly gaining popularity. This allows for gigabytes worth of files to be transferred within minutes, which means entire libraries of movies, music and photos can be uploaded to your device in no time at all.
Sensors like accelerometers, gyrometers, and GPS locators are also another thing to look at. If you’re the type who relies on apps like Waze or Google Maps to navigate the metro, these are indispensable specs that a smartphone must have. These not only allow your phone to communicate with location satellites and pinpoint your exact location to tell you where you are. They also collect information from your surroundings, allowing location apps to measure your speed and travel time.
On top of that, newer smartphone models even have fingerprint sensors. These offer better security, by allowing you to lock or unlock your smartphone using your fingerprint.
Smartphones are heavily dependent on WiFi and mobile data. Apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Viber need them to function, while games need an internet connection to sync to servers.
While most smartphones can connect to the internet, not all of them have 4G LTE, which is the new standard for mobile internet. This offers speeds of up to 4 mbps, letting you browse the web faster than before. The Samsung Galaxy J5 is one such phone that offers this along with a data saver function, making your internet browsing more cost-efficient.
Aside from internet connections, you can also use your smartphone to transfer data and files from one device to the other. As far as connections go, Bluetooth is the current standard that allows your phone to transfer files and remotely connect to different gadgets. These include headphones, laptops and speakers.
Newer phones also use a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip to interact with other objects. It is used in the “Android Beam” feature for file transfer, wireless payment terminals, and even info hubs at tourist attractions.