Four Questions before buying a smartphone


During the feature phone days, there wasn’t much to think about to select a phone. 99% of these phones used to have one great feature and remaining features are either average or ignorable. It’s either a camera phone or music phone or business phone etc etc. Over the past few years, things have changed a lot. Feature phones are now on the way to meet Nokia 1100 in heaven. This segment is being destroyed by smartphones.

Unlike features phones, these smartphones do everything and most of them are good at more than one feature. If you are looking for a godo smartphone, how do you pick one? Pick one that most of your friends prefer? Noooooo! You need to pick one whose strong features coincide with your primary tasks (that you use the phone for). Ask yourself these four questions:

  • What (are you going to use the phone for)?
  • Where (do you mostly use the phone)?
  • How (good is the manufacturer when it comes to updates and RMA)?
  • When (is the right time to buy a phone)?

What?

First, you need to be clear as to what you need the phone for. For example, my priority has always  been multimedia and I don’t care much about what OS the phone runs. So, smartphones like N900, Defy, SGS etc does more justice. My friend’s priority 1 is navigation and hence Nokia S^3 devices make most sense for his use. Those who want to have long battery life and like syncing emails with office mail servers would probably need a Blackberry or Nokia E-series devices with proper qwerty keypad. Some may like using their phone as a primary camera. Get your priorities right, go through the reviews checking how the device that you selected performs desired tasks and then decide whether to go for it.

Where?

A frequent traveller (that uses a smartphone mostly while on-the-go) buying a fully loaded smartphone with a tiny battery is worse than taking Reva electric car on a long drive. If you are a frequent traveller, you better get a device that has very good battery backup and a user replaceable battery  (If possible). If you are one of those who like using the phone as primary device (more than a laptop) and are most of the time near to a charging point (home/office etc), you don’t need to think much about battery life and can go for a fully loaded phone. If you sit in between these two type of users, pick something that has decent enough battery life that can keep you online for a day or two and pick an extra battery (if needed).

How?

While Apple (iOS)  and Microsoft partners (Windows Phone 7) push updates without any delay, Android manufacturers usually take their time and most manufacturers are greedy enough that they won’t provide any updates to protect their new releases. If you are picking Android, make sure that you pick a phone that comes for a brand with good update track  record or pick a phone that has very good 3rd party developer support (like Motorola Defy, LG Optimus one). If you are picking Windows Phone 7 device, you need not worry as Microsoft has set strict rules that all the devices “must” be upgraded.

When it comes to smartphones, always always pick a renowned and experienced brand. They have better experience in dealing with support related issues and they know how to treat customers. They are equipped with proper developer support so that they can release updates without bricking your phone. These el cheapo smartphone makers usually have poor to pathetic customer support and they usually don’t care about updating the phone’s firmware/OS.  Last thing you want to do is to land in one of these cheap RMA centres.

When

Timing is another very important factor. How do you feel when you go and purchase a smartphone and the very next week, it’s successor is launched and your phone gets a heavy price cut. Before you buy a phone, have a check if any new phone having similar features is coming out in very near future (not like in a month or two but in few weeks time). When it comes to devices with game changing hardware, it’s better to be wise a buyer than an early adopter. There are some instances when you may have to rush to the stores. There are certain devices that stand apart and if you are thinking to purchase one of these, you better get them without a second thought. And when you get to know that the manufacturer is thinking of pulling the device out of the market to make way for some yet-to-be-announced successor, you better grab one (no need to wait for successor).

So, What? Where? How? When? Four questions that can help you get the perfect phone for you. Happy hunting!

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6 thoughts on “Four Questions before buying a smartphone

  1. Nice written article. Would be beneficial since I am looking to buy a smartphone myself!

    Btw, a few corrections in above article:
    Missing “not” under “Where” heading (in 3rd line).
    Microsoft spelt wrong under How heading.

    And thanks for the article.

  2. Yet another nice article Amar. Liked your approach. Makes sense, very much.

    ‘Delay’ is spelt wrong under ‘how’ heading. And I suppose ‘don’t’ is missing in the paragraph under ‘Where’ heading – ” If you are one of those who like using the phone as primary device (more than a laptop) and are most of the time near to a charging point (home/office etc), you *don’t* need to think much about battery life and can go for a fully loaded phone.”

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