The Definitive Smartphone Guide

24 Feb 2018

Gone are the days when mobile phones were just used to make and receive calls and texts. The smartphones of today are capable of so much more, and users expect to be able to perform tasks like check emails, update their Instagram feed and video chat on Skype - all from the palm of their hands.

With that in mind, we’ve created the definitive guide to smartphones. We’ve covered everything you need to know - whether you’re upgrading your current phone or buying a smartphone for the first time. After reading our guide, we’re sure you’ll be Hoppy with your choice.

What’s your budget?

One of the first things to think about, and probably the most important, is budget. Think carefully about how much you’d be willing to spend on a new phone, taking into consideration all the features that you’ll use on a daily basis. Smartphones can cost upwards of £600 for top spec models, so it’s worth taking the time to see how much you can actually afford. 

Should you buy outright or on a mobile phone contract?

Can you afford an upfront payment or would you prefer to spread it across several years? Your answer to this question will determine which option to go for.

Perhaps you’re looking for a SIM-only deal rather than a contract. Buying a phone outright can be expensive at first, but could save you a pretty penny overall.  If that’s not an option for you there are plenty of great mobile phone deals to choose from at Hoppy. The amount you’ll end up paying depends on the contract, so be sure to shop around for athe best great price.

What’s the best smartphone to buy?

The options are endless, but what it really comes down to is the operating system (OS) - this determines how you’ll interact with your phone. If you can’t figure out how to work the OS, your experience won’t be a pleasant one.

There are 3 main options when it comes to an OS: iOS from Apple, Google Android and Windows Phone OS.

Before you make your decision, consider which OS you are using now and the potential difficulties involved with switching to a new system. If you find an operating system that suits you best, and you and your phone will live Hoppily ever after. 

Apple iOS

For Apple fans or anyone familiar with Apple products, Apple iOS (only available on iPhone) is a very popular choice. Apple has spent years perfecting their operating system, across multiple devices, to give users a near seamless experience, which means you can transfer photos and files from your phone to your laptop to your tablet without any hassle.

So, whether you’re using a laptop, tablet or mobile device, if you want an all-in-one system at a premium price, then iOS could be for you.  

Google Android

Android has grown to be an incredibly popular open source platform, which means it is less restrictive than iOS and allows for more customisation, meaning that anyone can develop apps and use the operating system in smart devices. This is why Android has become the operating system of choice for many companies such as Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony.

But due to the platform being ‘open’ there is less familiarity across devices, as each company tailors it to suit their own brand. If you want customisation, e.g. wallpapers, app icon shape and placement, custom launchers for Google search bar, calendar, notes, widget, and a wide variety of choices (almost every big brand uses Android: Motorola, Samsung, HTC, OnePlus etc.), go for Android. 

Windows Phone OS

Created by Microsoft, Windows Phone OS has a very similar look and feel to the desktop version and allows incredibly easy integration with Windows PC. Use Outlook webmail just as you would with a desktop and if you’re a gamer, Windows Phone OS allows you to extend your Xbox gaming experience to your mobile device. This is a great operating system for game enthusiasts, or someone wanting a familiar windows interface.

Smartphone Features

After deciding which OS to go for, the next dilemma should be about features. Are you looking for a super snappy processor that’s perfect for multi-tasking, or a pixel dense camera for jaw dropping photos? 

Let’s break down the main features you should consider for your next smartphone.

Processor

Essentially, this is your phone’s ‘brain’ so you want it to be as fast as possible. If you want to efficiently run lots of programs at the same time, we would advise opting for a processor that is at least 1GHz.

It’s also important to consider how much RAM (random access memory) a phone has, as this will impact the overall speed of the phone. Depending on your needs 4GB of RAM will usually suffice. If you’re into mobile gaming and streaming, perhaps 6GB or 8GB is better suited.

Storage

It’s also important to look at your phone’s hardrive spacememory (RAM) if you’re interested in more storage space you need to consider whether you want 32GB, 64GB or 128GB.  Obviously the more storage a phone has the higher the price tag, but there are some deals to be found on Hoppy.

Screen size

Want to watch your favourite Netflix show on the train without squinting? A larger screen is great for watching movies, typing and reading. However, pixel density (measured in PPI) is important for clarity – for pin-sharp images choose anything over 500ppi.

It’s also worthwhile to consider screen definition. Many phones these days will have a variation of an HD (high definition) screen. There are a lot of specifications to pay attention to and the highest spec phones will usually have an AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) screen, or Super AMOLED screen. What this means is that the pixels in the phone are activated quicker than normal, which is ideal for higher definition displays with a lot of pixels and fast-moving pictures (think sports games and action movies).

Camera

mobile phone camera lenses

For avid photographers, a good camera is essential. A high megapixel count is important – a high spec phone camera will usually have at least 12MP –  but also look for other features such as good low light performance and fast focus. – mMany cameras can suffer from blurry and grainy images due to aas they lack of these features.

Most smartphones also come with front and rear cameras. If you’re an avid selfie taker it’s worthwhile considering the specs of the front camera as well. Other important features are: type of flash, optical zoom, aperture and HDR settings, Optical image stabilisation (OIS) and many others.

Battery

You don’t want your phone to be charging all day, so a good battery is vital. Larger screens look great, but great but will require more power – for larger screens (5.1”) a 3000mAh should provide enough power. A lot of phones will say how long a battery will last with Talk time and standby time. But what do they mean?

“Standby time” is the length of time a phone would run if the demands placed on the phone were as low as possible. Standby time is usually overly optimistic and should be taken with a grain of salt.

“Talk time” is self-explanatory but the actual meaning is the officially quoted time a phone will last on a single charge if you are constantly talking on the phone – once again this time can vary significantly depending on factors like network connectivity, in particular location to the nearest phone tower. 

There are also plenty of accessories on the market to extend your phone’s battery life and make it easier to get a charge, including portable batteries and wireless charging, only available on some devices

Top Tip: It’s best to compare battery sizes across phones with similar screen sizes and compare the standby time and talk time to give you a general idea of battery life.

Water resistant

smartphone water resistant

Prone to dropping your phone? Prone to dropping your phone over a body of water? At least now if it drops in water it’ll survive due to water resistant builds. For peace of mind, look for an IP67 or IP68 certification.

Headphone jack

Check whether your phone actually has one! Newer models from Apple and Samsung Google Pixel have removed this function, meaning you’ll either need an adapter or a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Near Field Communication (NFC)

Not a necessity but becoming increasingly popular, NFC establishes radio communication between two devices when they are near each other, allowing for useful features like contactless payment.

Summary

There are so many things you’ll need to consider before you purchase a new smartphone. But, two of the most important aspects you should look at are price and operating system. Once those two have been decided you can then search through the huge range of phones and offers with Hoppy. Whatever kind of phone you need you’ll find something right for you with Hoppy.

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