The beauty of Android is that it gives you a wide variety of smartphones to choose from when shopping for a new phone. But as we all know, every good thing has its problems – but this one is a good problem.
While the vast collection of Android smartphones might be a great idea for expert smartphone buyers who know what to look for on a phone, new smartphone buyers find it hard to choose which phone is the best from this massive pool of almost look-alike phones. Unlike a few years ago, it has now become even harder to differentiate two devices from the same OEM.
The good side of the story is that with the influx of Android smartphones, the prices have shot down dramatically. This means that it’s now more than easy to buy a phone at nearly any price tag, but what exactly should you look for when buying an Android phone? To help answer this question, here is a list of 5 features your next Android smartphone needs to have in order to give you the near-perfect smartphone experience.
Good battery life
Android smartphones have mediocre battery life, especially those in the entry-level market. However, OEMs such as Infinix and Lenovo have been doing a great job lately, coming in with phones that pack massive 4000mAh battery units yet priced affordably. These are the kinds of phones you need to look at – a phone with a huge battery to last two or even more days on a single charge with moderate usage.
With things changing fast, it’s also important that this massive battery supports fast charging technology via the latest USB Type-C, but having a microUSB port is still not bad either, although not future-proof.
Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
There’s more to a smartphone processor than just the cores and clock speed, rather, it’s all about the entire system on chip (SoC). This determines what a phone will be capable of, be it the support for 4G LTE connectivity, the amount of RAM, the megapixel count of cameras, the maximum display resolution and so on.
Typically, Qualcomm Snapdragon processors are classified as the best in the smartphone market. The high-end market has the Snapdragon 800 series, with the latest version the Snapdragon 835. There’s a midrange Snapdragon 600 series that is currently topped by the Snapdragon 660. Then there’s a lower midrange family, the Snapdragon 400 series, which currently has Snapdragon 435 at the helm. On the lowest end is Snapdragon 200 series, which still supports premium features such as LTE and NFC.
Most budget phones in Kenya are based on either MediaTek or Samsung Exynos processors. These are not bad either, especially those from Samsung. In fact, the Snapdragon 835 was manufactured by Samsung and has the same horsepower as the Exynos 8895, which powers the Kenyan variant of the Galaxy S8. These chipsets are not bad per se, but getting a Qualcomm processor should be on top of your list when getting your next Android smartphone.
If you are a fan of Huawei, you’ll have to deal with the Kirin chipset, which has been proving to be a solid alternative to the Snapdragon in recent times.
At least 3GB RAM and 32GB ROM
Today, Android smartphones have RAM modules of up to 8GB. Talk of OnePlus 5 or ZTE Nubia Z17, just to name but a few. However, you might not be able to meet the price tags of these phones. Also, you might not be the heaviest smartphone user the world has ever seen and thus having a massive 8GB RAM won’t be any gain to you.
However, to ensure that your phone doesn’t hang on you when trying to update multiple apps in the Google Play Store, it’s a wise idea to ensure that your next phone has at least 3GB RAM on board. Most budget phones have stepped up to 2GB RAM, but you could do better with an extra gig of RAM. The phone will be faster, load apps faster and perform tasks faster, which is all an Android user can ever want.
To store your files and apps, 8GB is simply no longer enough. Even though Android has the beauty of expandable storage, having at least 32GB of internal storage should be your top priority when buying your next Android smartphone. If things get too tough, try the 16GB variants and a microSD card.
HD or Full HD display screen
Today, it’s easy to find a Ksh 5,000 smartphone with an HD display resolution. This is just wonderful, but you’ll be surprised at what about Ksh 15,000 could do. In this price range, it’s easy to find Android smartphones with a Full HD (1080p) resolution, panels that promise the best viewing experience. Most flagship phones have 2K resolutions and a few others have 4K resolutions, but their price tags could scare you off.
The quality of display you get on an HD screen will obviously be different compared to a Full HD or 2K (QHD). Another difference in quality might also be brought about by the display technology – is it LCD or AMOLED? Generally, the latter is considered the best in terms of battery saving while the former is the best in terms of brightness, but this has a negative impact on the battery life.
It’s not about the megapixel count, but it’s the other little things that make up a top-notch camera. Many smartphone buyers are quick to judge a camera’s performance by looking at the megapixel count. While having more megapixels helps with capturing more details in photos, it has little to do with the overall quality of the photo.
Rather, make sure that your next Android smartphone has a camera with a large aperture (small numbers are better, for instance, f/1.8 is larger and better than f/2.0).This will ensure the phone’s photos are top-notch even when taken in the dark. It’s also essential to look at the sensor size and pixel size. A large sensor size collects more light and thus much better performance in low-light conditions. Having features such as autofocus (AF), phase detection autofocus (PDAF), electronic image stabilization (EIS), dual-tone LED flash, HDR, panorama, wide-angle view and so on is also a plus. If you can get your hands on a dual-lens camera phone, grab it. However gimmicky it might look, it offers a different angle of photography compared to a single-lens setup.
Other extras to look out for on your next Android smartphones include water resistance, fingerprint scanner, 3.5mm audio jack and of course how regular the manufacturer of the phone releases software updates. Also, ensure the phone is at least running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.