Buying A New Smartphone?
There’s something about that touchscreen that makes surfing the internet more intimate. The idea that a spontaneous cinema visit or a holiday can be arranged over a cup of coffee through a few taps on the screen of a handheld device makes us all feel that the urban jungle is smaller and less hostile place.
But the micro-jungle of the smartphone market can itself seem hostile. So many cool adverts, so many flashy handsets that are the digital equivalent of the Swiss army knife; no wonder you’re scratching your head. Here are some basic considerations:
The first two questions you should ask are what does the hardware offer? And what does the operating system offer?
Let’s look at hardware first.
All smartphones today come with a camera ranging from 2 mega pixels up to 12 mega pixels. The majority manage to cram in face and smile recognition, autofocus, flash and state of the art lenses, allowing the user to take better pictures without increasing their knowledge of photography.
A second, important, consideration is memory size. All smartphones have an onboard memory. The size ranges from 1GB up to 64GB. Many handsets come with a memory card slot allowing you to extend the memory without deleting apps you download, or pictures you take. Apples iPhone range only have an onboard memory, so once it’s full, you’ll have to either transfer or delete to make room.
Third consideration is the keyboard, or lack of. Touchscreens are cool, but they don’t benefit everyone, especially if you have large fingers. Sometimes when you’re typing, you really want keys to press. The industry has heard this frustrated cry and started offering the Qwerty keyboard in some smartphones. Blackberry’s have always had them, hence their popularity with the professional user.
Now, the Operating System.
There are four main smartphone OS’s: Apple’s iOS, Android, Rim and Symbian. They all do basically the same thing, that is, bring the internet to your phone. They all do it with various degrees of functionality.
Apples iPhone was the original smartphone and has led the market since its initial release. The latest generation is iPhone 4. Apple also pioneered the app: those lovely little programmes that make life a little bit easier. Apple puts new apps through their paces, only approving those that meet its stringent criteria. If you’re getting an iPhone, you know that there is no malware, or unsavoury content in the apps you’re downloading. The biggest drawback is that the iPhone isn’t Flash enabled. This means there is a lot of the internet you can’t view on the iPhone.
Apples closest competitor is Android. Android is available across many brands: the HTC range; Samsung Galaxy S; Sony Ericsson Xperia. Because of the ‘open’ nature of Android, each new phone brings improvements in the platform. There is also the Google App Store offering an open market in Android apps.
Rim created the Blackberry, which is very popular in the business world. Its latest offerings include the Torch Slide phone with Blackberry 6 OS.
Symbian is also a cross-brand OS, popular in Nokia phones. The N8 is the latest entertainment led smartphone with the Symbian OS.
If you’re new to smartphones, the best thing to do is go to the shops and play with a few.