Smartphones are dominating the cell phone possessed world we live in today. With several carriers to choose from, hundreds of makes and models, and prices ranging from free to a couple hundred dollars, making the right decision can be tough. Keeping these pointers in mind when buying time arrives will help make that decision easier.
As of now, there are four major companies to choose from, along with several smaller ones. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile make up the industry leaders, and combine for the majority of cellular subscribers in the United States. Verizon is the largest network. With its widespread coverage, 4G LTE speeds, and advanced phones, it becomes clear why so many people flock to big red. AT&T is another option. AT&T delivers its 4G speeds via HSPA+, which is not as fast as Verizon’s LTE network. AT&T is also known for spotty coverage, and poor customer service, something that isn’t too enticing when looking to choose a carrier. Sprint, the country’s third largest cellular provider, is an interesting option. Sprint is the only remaining cellular provider to offer truly unlimited data plans; the other providers have tiered data plans or slow down your speeds once past your cap. Sprint also has a fairly large 4G network, and quality phones. T-Mobile is the smallest network, and is also may merge with AT&T if the FCC approves it. T-Mobile is known for its widespread 4G network, solid customer service, and affordability. Some of these may change, however, if the merger with AT&T goes through.
One of the latest perks advertised with smartphones these days are network speeds. 4G, or fourth generation, are the latest, most advanced network speeds offered by carriers. However, different carriers deliver 4G speeds through different infrastructures. Verizon’s highly advertised 4G LTE network is the most advanced, and one of the fastest. AT&T currently uses HSPA+, but will be looking to add LTE to its infrastructure in the future. Sprint uses 4G WI-MAX, which is faster than AT&T’s variation of HSPA+, but slower than Verizon’s LTE network. T-Mobile also uses HSPA+, and has the largest 4G network. They use two forms of HSPA+ infrastructure, 21Mbit/s and 42Mbit/s. Although not completely rolled out yet, T-Mobiles 42 Mbit/s network will provide the fastest 4G speeds around. Confused yet? Let me make it easier, Verizon and T-Mobile have the fastest network speeds, followed by Sprint, and then AT&T. Phones that aren’t advertised as 4G are 3G, which is mostly present on the cheaper smartphones. 4G speeds are much, much faster than 3G, yet the technology is more advanced, therefore explaining the increased prices for 4G phones.
Some smartphones can be free, and some of the high end smartphones can cost up to $300. Determining how much to spend on a smartphone is rather simple. If you’re a power user, and use your phone for a plethora of tasks, you’re probably going to want spend around $200. If you just want the freedom of accessing the internet on the go, checking your email, and other rather simple tasks, a free smartphone will do you just fine. $200 phones will buy you a high quality screen, an advanced processor, a high resolution camera, and the latest features, such as 3D, for example. With a free phone, you will get a basic, yet capable processor, a decent camera, and an average screen. Keep in mind, if you just want the luxuries that a smartphones provides, and nothing more, a free phone would be ideal.
There are three major operating systems on smartphones today. iOS from Apple, Android from Google, and Blackberry OS, from Research In Motion. Android is the most popular smartphone operating system today, and is present on phones across all four major carriers. Manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung, HTC, and LG all produce Android phones. Next is iOS, which is the operating system that is present on all Apple iPhones. The iPhone is the only phone that runs the iOS, and therefore is only available on AT&T and Verizon. Blackberry is the most popular phone for business, and has been around for years. They have a variety of Blackberry devices available on all four of the major networks. If you’re a business man, choose Blackberry, if you are interested in a simple, user friendly, yet powerful phone that’s available on all networks, choose an Android device. If you are intrigued by Apple’s App store, and ITunes compatibility, as well as a powerful, user friendly phone, and have Verizon or AT&T in mind, choose Apple.
Smartphones are becoming so powerful, that they have the computing power approaching that of netbooks and laptops. First, choose a screen type. Basic smartphones come with a vanilla screen that will get the job done for simple tasks. If you want to watch videos, view pictures, or just show off your new phone to your friends, there are a couple of other options. Apple’s retina display on the iPhone is currently the highest resolution smartphone display available, meaning best picture quality. Samsung also produces sharp vibrant screens that are on their Galaxy S devices, called Super AMOLED screens. Some HTC and Motorola phones use qHD screens, which are another type of high resolution screen. The type of screens mentioned above will be present in more expensive devices, but cost more for a reason; they simply look amazing. Many smartphones these days have cameras that will easily compete with that point and shoot that you probably use. Additionally, some of the higher end smartphones have the capability to take HD video, some as high as full HD 1080P quality. These features could almost make your digital camera obsolete, as you will have a high quality camera right in your smartphone. Processors are another selling point. These days, there are dual core processors, which are available in the most high end phones, costing around $200. Single core processors are available in the free phones, and while not as snappy as the dual cores, are effective enough for everyday tasks. Also, as previously mentioned, look out for 3G/4G capability.
If you do some research based on your personal needs on these five features when looking to buy a smartphone, you will be more satisfied with your decision, as you will have chosen the phone that best fits your needs. When buying something that you will be using every day, you want to make sure that choice is indeed, a good one.
Business Insider, Android Is Destroying Everyone, Especially RIM — iPhone Dead In Water, businessinsider.com
Computer World, 4G shootout: Verizon LTE vs. Sprint WiMax, computerworld.com
PC Mag, The Fastest Mobile Networks 2011, pcmag.com
TmoNews, Giant List Of Current Markets With T-Mobile’s 42Mbps HSPA+ Network, tmonews.com