What to look for when buying a smartphone – Complete Guide

Technology is rapidly changing trying to make our lives easier. Talking about mobile phones, these are no longer limited to basic job of phone calling but these tend to provide you so many features which can ease up your life. Whether it is managing emails, getting directions, getting restaurants/hotel/flight options, booking your tickets, helping in workout, watch movies, listen music, chatting with friends, spending time on social media; There is just long list of things which you can do with your smartphone.

But the thing is, there is literally a flood of smartphones currently in the market. Choosing the right mobile (and fitting it in your budget) can be a real tough problem. Because of so much confusion (And the fear that our money will get wasted), often we end up dropping the idea of buying a new mobile phone. So as the smartphone are not cheap, it worth spending some time doing the research and making the right decision. Please note that the gadget you end up buying may not be best your friend, but it should be best device for you. Make sure that the phone you will be buying correctly fits it in your need (and your pocket as well). This mobile phone buying guide should help you narrow down the search and help you making the right decision.

Decide What you Need from your SmartPhone

This is the first thing that every person should do when buying a mobile phone. You should not buy a super computer, when all you want to do is listen music on it. Make a list of things which you would be wanting do on your mobile phone. It can be just making a few calls and checking emails or a complete bunch of items music, movies, games, camera, face booking etc etc etc.. To ease up your job, below is list of things which I would like to do with my phone. Make a similar list and this should help you narrow down search.

  • Making Video Calls: My phone should be capable of video calling and this indirectly means that it should have a decent front facing camera for Skype. Please note that Blackberry phones were having this issue (and only latest ones have this feature of video calling).
  • Access Emails/Chat with Friends/Social Media: Almost all the smartphones now have these features. All you need is internet on mobile and you can access Facebook or email client on your phone. Apps like Whatsapp are now available for all platforms (a real need for chatting with friends).
  • Listen Music: My phone should have a decent music player and storage should not be a problem.
  • Surfing on internet: I do a lot of surfing on net, so it should have a decent size screen and should be smooth to use.
  • Camera: I ain’t a professional photographer but it should have a decent camera for photo and video recording.
  • Movies: I love watching movies so my phone should have decent memory space (or provision for high capacity SD card) and good display size and quality.

Advanced Features: Nice to have

Now make a list of features that you think will be great to have on mobile, but you can drop these if this is making your phone go out of your budget. My list of such features.

  • Multi Windows: The latest Galaxy Note 2 has this feature. Definitely a good feature, but its okay if my phone doesn’t have this.
  • Games: Some people are total gaming freak and what’s important to them is “Decent Display Size”, “Good Resolution of screen for graphics”, “GPU”, and “Good Processing Power”. If you are buying a phone mainly for gaming (those good racing and fighting games and not Angry birds or Talking Tom), then make sure your phone performs well in this respect. I am okay with games like Angry Birds and Talking Tom which do not require such high processing power and high resolution.
  • Looks/Type of Make: My phone should be decent looking and I would prefer metallic body.
  • Brand: Whether it is Samsung, HTC, LG or Miramax or any other brand. I don’t care, what matters to me is above specs and price. It could be concern for some.

Now that we have prepared a list of things which we want in our phone, it is time to narrow down our search based on criteria. We would suggest that you open up any online shopping portal and select for mobile options. It will be easy to narrow down your phone search. What you can do is simply mark the suitable filtering criteria and search will itself narrow down options for you.


This is the most important criteria when buying a phone. Since the price range is so varied and high end phones have lucrative features, so people tend to go overboard. You need to decide a budget and stick to it (don’t go overboard). It could be something like 10K-15K or 15K-20K or 25K-35K or even higher. Whatever you decide, just stick to it and mark appropriate price filter on online search.

Operating System

The question is Android or iOS or Blackberry or Windows Mobile or Nokia Symbian. The market is full of operating system. It is really a difficult choice to decide upon mobile OS. Every OS has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. It will be hard to recommend a particular, lets see.

  • Android: Good for people who want access to world full of apps. Best option if you want something new. I have one and I love it. Only disadvantage is it consumes lot of battery life and is not very stable. If you are okay charging your phone daily and does not mind occasional crashes (phone switched off), then choose Android.
  • iOS: Good option (in every terms) if you have money for iPhone. Only thing is you get bind to Apple world.
  • Windows 8 OS: New in the market but certainly people are liking the Lumia range of phones. If you are looking for stable OS, decent looking tiles screen and fast performance, then it is for you. If you want many apps and games, this is not for you.
  • Blackberry OS: It is complex and not recommended. It is only for people who want only emails, documents and presentations and want other professional stuff.
  • Symbian/Bada: Not recommended (only if you have high budget constraints).

Display and Screen Size

Some people like big screen phones (phablets) and some are okay with medium sized phones. Another thing to note here is resolution, make sure the ppi ratio is above 220 (pixel ratio). In short whatever display size you choose, make sure the display is nice in the resolution offered in it. Don’t choose a mobile with 5” display and with low resolution. Now in order to decide upon display size, we need to check its advantages and disadvantages.


  • Looks good (when in use), easy to use and operate.
  • Easy to surf internet on mobile and do other activities
  • Watching Videos, Movies and Gaming experience is good


  • Phone gets bulky. Girls find it difficult to hold a 5” and bigger phone.
  • Bigger size, more weight and not easy to carry in your pocket.
  • Consumes more battery

My choice would be something like 4” to 4.5” size phone display with good resolution

Processor: Quad Core/Dual Core

I would definitely consider this one of the most important things. You need to make sure that processor is fast and performs well and consumes less battery.

Core: Anything above two cores are fine and performs well. We recommend a phone with at least a dual-core processor, as it will have a longer shelf life than a phone with a single-core CPU. Single-core phones are cheaper, and some OS’s like Windows Phone and BlackBerry don’t offer dual-core devices yet, but if you have the option, go with dual-core or even quad-core.

Speed: Higher the speed (frequency) better it is. I would suggest anything like 1 GHz or 1.2/1.5 Ghz processor.

Ram and GPU

This again will affect how your phone performs. Make sure your phone has atleast 512MB Ram. Recommended is 1GB (and 2GB would be awesome). If you are gaming person, make sure your phone has high Ram and a GPU as well.


Internal Memory: Very important consideration when buying Android Mobile. All apps require some space of phone internal memory. Make sure your phone has atleast 1GB (or 2GB) of internal memory.

SD Card: This is where you store your music and movies. Recommended is 16GB or 32GB. Some phones like Lumia range does not have provision for external card, however their internal phone memory is itself very high.

Battery Life

Who likes to charge phone daily, but you will have to. Accept the fact that almost all smartphones have poor battery life.  Battery life only gets worse with time. If your phone cannot hold a charge all day when you buy it, it’s going to be much much worse in 12-24 months. If possible, get a phone with a removable battery, so you can buy a spare or swap out a defective battery. Also make sure that battery is minimum 1500 mah (for low end phones) and 2000 mah for big phones.


As decided above, we need two camera – Primary Rear Camera for clicking Pics and secondary front facing camera for video calling.

Primary Camera should have: Good Lens (like Carl Zeiss) autofocus, dual-LED flash. 5MP Camera phones are decent enough. If it has HD Video Recording then it will be awesome

Secondary Camera: VGA Cam or 1.2MP camera should be fine.


Some people just want to stick with top brands like Samsung, Apple, HTC, Sony or LG. Some people tend to look for other cheap option which are not branded. It is entirely your choice, but an important decision. If you are okay with brands like Micromax, Huawie, or Kabronn Mobiles then these are also good options (and quite cheap ones).

Other Considerations

  • Phone Looks: Outer body, Back Cover etc etc.
  • Sound Quality : MP3 Player, Radio FM etc..
  • Network Connectivity: Make sure your phone is 3G compatible
  • Light Weight Mobile
  • Corning Gorilla Glass Display: Not a must option but good to have

Final Words..

Now that you have narrowed down the options and probably made a choice, it is time you make sure that the phone fulfills all the items which you compiled in the above list “What I am looking for in my mobile”. If any of the list item is missing in the phone who choose, then probably you have not made right choice. Just follow the steps again and do a fresh search.

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