How To Choose And Afford The Right Smart Phone.
The Telegraph revealed statistics from The Deloitte Consumer Review that showed smartphones are on the rise with “the number of consumers with a smartphone increasing to 72%, compared to 58% just ten months ago.” And these figures are only going to grow according to the report, “increased use of mobile devices for shopping is likely to accelerate, with 48% of 16 to 24 year olds choosing to shop via Apps, compared to just 14% between the ages of 45 and 64.” Ian Geddes from Deloitte said that smartphones should be a priority for retailers, as “customer experience, brand loyalty and ultimately sales will all increasingly stem from the mobile channel.” It’s not only retailers who should jump on board, the banking and payments sector will continue to add and improve mobile services and applications.
Not for everyone
So how do you decide which smartphone is right for you and how, in the midst of economic gloom, can you afford one? The right smartphone for you isn’t necessarily going to be right for everyone. Andrew Hoyle from Reviews.cnet.co.uk explains that “best is a relative concept especially where technology is concerned. Where one person may swoon over a 5-inch power-hungry behemoth, another’s dream blower might be a slender little chap just for the essentials. “According to The Telegraph, the iPhone 5 is the slowest smartphone on the market. The article revealed that “tests of the seven most popular smartphones found that iPhone 5 came last, processing requests at half the speed of the Samsung Galaxy S4” which came in as the fastest, and was rated as the best smartphone by their Consumer Technology Editor.
But for most consumers, getting the best isn’t always possible. With escalating living costs and frozen wages, smartphones are still a luxury that many can’t afford. But if you are in the market, the best on the market might not always be the best for you. Choose your smartphone according to how you might use it and what you can afford not only upfront but in the long term.
Cost and carrier
Most of the leading smartphones are priced to compete, which means that once you’ve decided what your budget is, you will have a range of similar products to choose from. Sometimes, it pays to have a look to see which carriers are offering the best deals. If you’re concerned with unlimited internet and signal access, you’ll need to know who are the most reliable carriers and networks. The 4G network is widely considered the best, most consistent network for data access and speed and according technology blogs, Three is the best carrier for coverage. However Vodaphone is considered the best carrier for phone signal, closely followed by Orange and T-Mobile. Most carriers sell most of the big name phones, but you’ll get different deals depending on who you go with. Negotiation is essential, it’s a competitive market, let them earn your patronage by throwing more data, shorter contracts and upgrades.
The OS defines user experience, with Google’s Android taking the lead as the world’s most dominant platform. Most smartphones offer the Google OS, but the Android is more customizable and comes with more features than the iPhone version. However, Review.cnet.co.uk says that the iPhone operating system is “slick, polished, reliable and super-easy to use. It still boasts the most apps of all the smart phone operating systems.”
When it comes to speed, smartphones are like cars, the faster they go the more expensive they are. Unless you’re going to be gaming or watching movies on your phone, speed is not a huge concern for the average user. Besides, the speed comes at the expense of not only your bank balance but your battery life. The advice at Fonebank.com is “if you’re smartphoning on a shoestring, you’re probably best off chucking as much dosh as you can at the processor, as this is the part of the handset that you will really notice if it’s not up to the mark. Ideally, you’re looking for at least 800MHz, or better still, 1GHz. ”
It used to be that a good camera was one of the selling points of a smartphone, but now, it seems that all the top end models offer top of the line cameras as standard. The Telegraph listed the Samsung Galaxy S4 as the best smart phone, with a camera that “packs more screen into the hand than has ever been possible before, and that 5” display offers more pixels per inch than any previous device, and more than the eye can see.”
Trends in technology change as fast as fashion, and so screen size all depends on what’s in vogue. Best thing to do is choose what you like best. The smallest screen is the Apple iPhone at 4 inches, with the HTC One close behind, the Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in at 5 inches and the Samsung Galaxy Note II is the biggest smartphone screen at 5.5 inches. Anything larger and you move into tablet territory anything smaller than 4 inches means you’ll need a stylus to find your way around.
So after all that, chances are you’ve selected the smartphone that’s right for you, but the tricky part comes next, the plan. Phones are being marketed as affordable but you must be sure that you have room in your budget for the on-going costs of owning a smartphone. Not only will you have the monthly bill contracted to pay the handset off, but you will also need to carefully choose a plan that you can afford. Clubthrifty.com reported that according the Bureau of Labour Statstics, “the average family is spending over 300% more on cell phones than they would’ve 10 years ago. And while food, apparel, and entertainment spending have all decreased, cell phone spending has been increasing at an alarming rate.”
With the cost of living on the rise, be sure to check that you can afford the luxury of the smartphone because once you get a taste for the freedom and flexibility of data-on-tap, you will find it very hard to live without it.
If you can’t afford the plan for a new handset, consider getting a second hand phone. You can pick them up at used technology dealers on the High St and online and will mean you can get a much cheaper monthly plan. Alternatively you can find out if reconditioned versions of older models are available at a discount from major carriers.
If you can’t afford the latest and greatest, focus on what you want out of your smartphone. Whether you need reliable internet access or a larger screen, a top quality camera or fastest OS, choose a handset that suits you best and a plan that you can afford.
Jessica Bourne reports from Chester and has established a journalistic career delivering articles that inform readers about the complexities of international economics to the fast moving world of technology and the rough waters of personal finance. Amongst others, Jessica frequently writes for the eccount money blog, where you’ll find more of her articles on online and mobile banking.