Choosing a cellphone that best fit your lifestyle and budget - a mobile phone buyers guide

By original design a cellphone is just a communication device, but over the past years due to marketing competition and demands, it had evolved as a hybrid multimedia device. So choosing which cellphone to buy nowadays is more complicated than the cellphone itself as you have to weigh in a lot of features you need but with a limited budget so you need to trade off between features and that goes on a long list of dilemmas.

1   Check your budget
In buying, there's always two questions "Is it a necessity, or a Luxury?", and the answer depends all in your budget. If you have limited money, then buy only what you need (a choice of necessity) but if you have more to spare, then you can consider buying what you want (a choice of luxury).
 You can check cellphone prices by searching the phone model on the following site:

2   Checklist of Features - A good site to check a cellphone feature. From here you can see an unbias review from cellphone experts that does the actual test and not from cellphone marketers which would give you only all the good side of the phone but never mention anything less of it.
Create a checklist of features that you need and want. Check the features that you need first, then some of the features that you want but can be traded off. Let's say you're buying this one at much lower cost but the things that you need or want apparently is not or minimally supported (e.g. lower megapixel, lower video quality).

3  Choosing Trade-offs
From a list of features, adjust your desire range of acceptable features. Here I will give sample based from my latest preference on cellphone I bought.
  • OS: Android  Operating System is the one that controls your cellphone features and applications. Most cellphone OS have limited or doesn't allow you to install new applications but Android OS gives you that freedom to customize and add any applications especially games. Make sure the android OS is 2.2 (Froyo) or higher, as this allows applications to be installed on external memory card or check if phone OS is upgradeable to 2.2 and up. Any version prior to Froyo will install new applications on internal memory only and you cant expand it.
  • CPU: At least 600 Megahertz or above (Gigahertz). This processor speed determines how responsive your cellphone is to user inputs when clicking a button, taking pictures, browsing galleries, etc.
  • Internal Memory (Fixed): 256Mb to 512Mb - These are acceptable range, but if your preferred OS is android, 512MB would be good enough as its loaded application consumes only 1 to 4 Mb memory, very small footprint. Anything higher would be better. For previous version prior to Android 2.2. (Froyo), this is where the installed/downloaded applications goes to. So if you really like the phone but the OS is old version, but you want to install more applications, make sure it's at least 1Gb of internal memory.
  • External Memory (Expandable) - Some have bundled memory card of 2Gb, this is good enough but you can upgrade and buy high capacity memory card as the need arises. This is where your medias are stored like photos, videos, downloaded applications, etc.
  • Display: 320 x 480 pixels, 256 Colors LCD, 3.2 inches - This is good enough, check the backlighting if it's adjustable especially during daylight so it's still visible under sunlight.
  • Sound: Loudspeaker and Headphone. Some cellphone have poor loudspeaker but mostly are acceptable.
  • Connectivity (Data) 
    • 3G - If you have no plan on video calling this is just optional. But if you want to connect to internet when you have no WIFI, or would want to use your cellphone as your modem to your laptop then this feature is a must.
    • WIFI - Want to connect to free internet wifi zone from malls, or connect from your laptop adhoc network that shares internet, or from wifi router then this feature is a must.
    • Bluetooth - Want the ability to instantly share or get files from another device with bluetooth within close range, then you need this one.
    • GPS - If you're driving and don't want to get lost or go to a place you're not familiar with then consider your phone to have this feature.
    • USB port - Allows you to connect your cellphone to your computer and auto-charge it while being used.
  • Camera 
    • Still Camera at least 3 Megapixel, higher is better.
    • Video: VGA and above (640,720 or 1080), at least 18 frames per second. Don't Opt for QVGA, this is very small video, just quarter (1/4) the size of VGA. VGA is relatively good enough. But if you can afford super clear video, then go for HD quality (720 to 1080).
    • Autofocus vs Fixed Focus- You need Autofocus when you want to shoot clear photos at close range within 1 feet, commonly known as macro mode (e.g a book where you could read its printed letters). At 2 feet far and above, the shot clarity between auto/fixed focus is tolerable and you can only see the difference once you magnified the image.
    • Flash - You don't necessarily need this if you won't be shooting at night or at dimmer environment, but having this is a good one, you could even use this as flash light. 
  • Radio: Most multimedia phone have Radio, if you're fond of listening to music, then check if it has Radio FM support, and could at least save 10 channels.
  • MP3/MP4: If you love music, this is inherently available to all multimedia phones.
  • TV: This has been pioneered by a plethora of china made phones. This allows you to view TV on aired channel. But I find this optional so I didn't opt for this. 
  • SIM: Only in Philippines wherein dual (or even triple) sim is almost a necessity, as different network providers have their own unlimited text/call features if texting/calling on same provider. Check if dual/triple sim are both active in standby. I need this but the features that I love most just support single sim so I traded this off.
  • Battery: Check also the battery capacity, and check if the battery is replaceable, it's funny that one of the branded phones I love started making fixed batteries. One such sample is the XPERIA X10 MINI. Once your cellphone battery dies, you have no easy way of replacing it. But to be fair I had SE W810i, and the battery never deteriorated for 5 years but unfortunately I've lost it. I love Sony Ericson's for its Camera Quality but nonetheless, I bought another model due to that predicament.
  • Other features: 
    • DIVX video format: If you're fond of downloading/playing videos, this video format is more compact and small. It's file extension is .AVI and most of DVD quality videos has this format.
    • Flash Player Support: If you're fond of watching youtube from your mini browser, then you need this. But some android phone doesn't support this, instead they provided a youtube application viewer, so you can still view youtube without using the mini browser.
    • Dedicated Camera Key: Most of touchscreen phones don't have dedicated camera keys except some brands like Sony Ericson, but I find this optional. It's also easy to take shot from touchscreen, as there is a compensated delay to stabilize image movement after touching the shot button onscreen.
So, wanna know which phone I bought with a better price and feature ratio? Email me and I'll tell you.

No comments:

Post a Comment