Smartphone Smart-Buying

Samsung Malaysia launches the GALAXY SIII superphone to members of the media.

Samsung Malaysia launches the GALAXY SIII superphone to members of the media.

It’s hard to imagine someone not having some flavour of a smartphone these days. As a consumer you’re simply spoiled for choice with hundreds of devices to choose from. Choice is good, for most part. But choice can also mean fried brain cells from literally being drowned with ‘too much info’ and muddled decision-making. Let’s look at a couple of key criteria in making an ‘educated’ buying decision.

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Money, money, money

In a beautiful dream I had the other day, my pockets were filled with hundred dollar bills and gold coins. Alas, I woke up to reality. And reality isn’t always kind. So know your budget. How much are you willing to pay for a smartphone? At the top of the range with ‘super phones’ like the Samsung GALAXY S III, HTC One X, iPhone 4S and Sony Xperia S, expect to pay around RM1,800 to RM2,300 without a telco contract.

At the mid-range, cost vary between RM1,200 – RM1,700. In such a competitive space nowadays, that budget would buy you a very decent smartphone.

Entry-level smartphones, usually running a flavor of Android, can go for as low as RM600. In my opinion, forget the low-end. You get what you pay for. Drink less lattes at Starbucks and save up for a mid-range at least. 🙂

Respecting the specs

While specs aren’t everything, it is important to know what would contribute to the final user experience, at least hardware wise. Lookout for dual- to quad-core processors, more built-in RAM and storage. More is obviously better, faster.

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Size and design are also aspects that would influence your choice. While some are happy with a 3.7″ display, others may want more screen real estate. Phones like the GALAXY Note can go up to 5.3″, really pushing the limits of what’s normal and what’s not.  Rival display technologies like Samsung’s Super AMOLED HD, Apple’s Retina Display and Sony’s Mobile Bravia Engine bring crisp, bright and high resolution imagery to mobile devices.

One highly marketed (and highly used) component of the smartphone is the camera. We’re now looking at at least 8MP rear cameras capable of high speed high-def stills and video. The GALAXY S III pushes it further with HD-capable front-facing camera as well. The quality and speed of built-in cameras are improving rapidly, and if phones like the GALAXY S III and HTC One X are any indication, camera quality in phones are set to push boundaries even further.

Do you prefer touch or tactile? The majority of smartphones are touch-centric, however phones such as BlackBerry still offer tactile keyboards, and/or hybrids.

Samsung Malaysia launches the GALAXY SIII superphone to members of the media.

What’s your flavor?

There are several popular smartphone platforms. First you have Apple’s iOS which powers the iPhone, iPod and iPad devices. Slick, matured and beautiful, it is a choice of many. Many consider this a ‘closed’ platform, similar to the likes of Windows Phone but to the general non-technical mass market, this may not seem the most relevant, if at all . iOS enjoys the highest number of apps offered through its App Store.

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The fast-growing Android platform powers over half of the world’s smartphones and is based on open-source Linux. Street-cred and geek-cred aside, Android has improved and matured to its current form today. It is highly-customisable thus highly suitable for those who love to customize the user interface and modify the user experience. Think individualist elitist.

While small in comparison to the two monoliths, Windows Phone offers a fresh, intuitive look at the mobile user interface. It has its fans and offers an alternative to the iOS and Android experience.

Not to be forgotten, is also RIM’s BlackBerry. While naysayers constantly proclaim its doom and demise, BlackBerry is surprisingly growing in markets such as Asia, and still has supportive fans (over 25 million users worldwide). They are still great devices for push email and BBM (BlackBerry Messenger).

Samsung Malaysia launches the GALAXY SIII superphone to members of the media.

At long last

One very important aspect of a smartphone is battery life. What’s the point of having a stupendously quick phone with the fanciest user experience, biggest camera, fastest processor when it doesn’t last a day of use? Check specs for how big the supplied batteries are with the smartphone you purchase.

The balls in your court

Since a smartphone is a tool used daily, I consider it a very personal device. It warrants some thought, some consideration to come to a proper decision. I hope I’ve given some useful tips to help ease your decision making. I’m always available to answer any questions, so shoot. Till then, happy hunting!

 

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