(BPT) - Quality smartphones come in all configurations and price points these days. Here are some of the key things you'll want to look for to make sure you find one that works best for your needs. Happy shopping!
Operating system (OS): There are two different operating systems to choose from. iOS works with iPhones, while Android operates with a wider variety of smartphones, like those from Samsung or Motorola. In general, iOS is considered easier to use, but you need to have an Apple device. Android gives you more options, plus the ability to customize it with third-party software and widgets.
Camera: Most people now use their phones as their primary camera, so the right selection here will be an especially important one. More and more smartphones boast cameras with at least 12 mega-pixels, so don't go by only that stat. Instead, focus on individual camera specs and special features like dual lenses or the ability to edit and enhance photos.
Screen size: Get the right size screen for the things you'll want to do. Buy a phone with a screen smaller than 5.5 inches if one-hand use is important to you or if you have smaller hands. Get a bigger-screen phone if you like to watch a lot of videos or play games, or simply want to have an easier time navigating on your touchscreen.
Display: You're going to spend many hours gazing at the screen, so make sure it offers the viewing experience you're after. If you plan to watch a lot of videos, look for a minimum of full HD (high definition), which is 1920 x 1080 pixels. You'll also want to familiarize yourself with some of the underlying technologies: LCD, OLED, and AMOLED are all terms you'll see used, and each offers a different range of advantages.
Design: Determining good smartphone design is purely subjective. Many people prefer a metal or glass design; others, plastic. If you're concerned about durability, look for a phone that is water-resistant. A handful of phones also now feature a shatterproof glass display, and many include a Gorilla Glass display to protect it against short drops (a protective case will help with that, too).
Processor: Even midrange phones now offer satisfactory performance for nearly any user level or basic task. A good processor inside a phone will translate to faster open times for apps, smoother navigation and quicker photo editing.
Battery: Many factors, including the screen size, processor and operating system, determine how long a smartphone lasts on a charge. A decent benchmark is to look for a smartphone with a battery capacity of at least 3,000 mAh. Any phone that lasts longer than 9 hours of straight 4G LTE use is considered very good.
Storage: Go for as much internal storage as possible. Some apps and games can easily take up more than 1GB of storage, and most smartphone owners capture and store large numbers of high-res photos and videos. While some models offer just 8GB or 16GB, the minimum on premium handsets these days is usually anywhere from 32GB-64GB. Adding a microSD card will also help expand your storage. It's available on many Android phones, some of which can accommodate 1TB or more.
Price: Don't pay for more than you need. The latest iPhone and premium Android phones start around $800, and can easily run $1,000 or more. But there are great options below $500, and even some solid choices for well under $200.
Carrier: A smartphone requires a wireless plan. Choose a service provider that offers what you'll really use, and at a price that suits your budget. Consumer Cellular, for example, offers a wide variety of smartphone choices from entry level to top of the line, along with talk, text and data plans for as low as $20 a month, with no contract.
Let today's top technology work for you! It's a very competitive marketplace, so by shopping wisely, you're sure to find a smartphone that keeps you happily connected at a great price.