When you’re shopping for a new smartphone, you’ll need to make all kinds of decisions. You’ll have to think about your budget and priorities, and you’ll have to choose an operating system. You’ll have to narrow down your choices to a few smartphone makers to decide which one is right for you, too. There are tons of great options out there. Finding the right fit for you typically requires a lot of research and some smart thinking about what you actually need out of your device.
However, these 5 key features will make the decision process a lot faster and easier:
1. A great camera
There’s no reason to go overboard when it comes to things like megapixels (somewhere around 12MP is usually more than enough). But pay attention to how reviewers say a phone’s camera performs. Don’t buy a phone with poor low-light photography capabilities, and look for one with useful features like a fast lens, optical image stabilization, and a camera app that enables you to manually control an image’s exposure.
2. A screen sized to make the phone comfortable (and portable)
There’s no hard and fast rule about which screen size you should look for in your next smartphone. Personal preference is as big of a factor in that decision as any. But if you need some guidance, it’s generally a good idea to look for a phone with a screen somewhere between four and five inches. A phone in that range will usually be pretty easy to use with one hand, and to fit in your pocket. A bigger phone may be right for you if don’t have great vision and if you watch a lot of movies or TV shows on your phone. Unsure of how large you’re comfortable with? Go into a store and get a feel for a few different phones, and try using each in just one hand.
3. Good battery life
There’s no one-size-fits-all guideline for the battery capacity you should look for in your next smartphone. Factors like the screen type, screen size, resolution, processor, RAM, software, and other components will play a role in how long a battery lasts. So simply looking at how big the battery is won’t always be the best indication of how long that battery is going to last. When you read reviews of the smartphones you’re considering, pay attention to how long the reviewers say the battery lasted.
4. At least 2GB of RAM
The amount of RAM — or random access memory — you’ll get in a phone is going to depend not only on the price point of that phone, but also on whether that phone is being marketed toward power users or more casual smartphone owners. The amount of RAM with which a phone is equipped is an important indicator of its performance (and the associated numbers are easier to remember than the names of processors). RAM holds the data that your phone is using at any given time, and having more RAM helps a device multitask smoothly and quickly.
5. Software that’s up to date (and likely to be updated)
Maybe you’ve found a phone that has everything you need as far as hardware. But don’t forget to figure out whether each phone on your shortlist has the software features you need. It’s important to make sure that the phones you’re considering have an up-to-date operating system, which is important not only to get the latest features, but also to ensure the security of your device.