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How to choose the smartphone

How to choose the smartphone that's best for you

Choosing a smartphone that has everything we need can get complicated. To make it easier for you, let’s take a look at the various components of a smartphone and see what they're used for


What's hiding under the gold shell, two rear cameras and a screen the size of your hand? The physical appearance of a smartphone can help us go for one phone or another, but when it comes to choosing the right phone for you, it's important to take a look inside too.

Western Europe and China are the markets with the highest smartphone penetration. According to data from Statista, more than 270 million smartphones were sold in the European Union in 2018. And when it comes to how we use them, there's as much variation as there is in the people who own them. Some want to be able to take professional photographs, and some use their phones as an extension of their office. 

Smartphone functionalities grow at the same pace as applications, but the phones themselves have their own set of characteristics. Megapixels, dual core, processor, RAM... these are the words that hold the key to our smartphone's capabilities. Tell me what you use your smartphone for, and I'll tell you which of those words you need to focus on.

 

Memory

When we talk about smartphone memory, we're referring to the device's storage capacity. But there are several types of memory, and you need to think about all of them.

 

Internal memory

This is the memory that is used to store apps and documents and it is what comes as standard with your smartphone. In the case of iPhones, the internal memory is all the phone memory it has – that’s all the space you have available for saving documents and installing apps. But in other smartphones the internal memory can be increased with external memory or a micro SD card

If you often download documents to your phone, like tickets, transport documents, or things to read on your smartphone, you really need to think about the internal memory your choice of phone has, as well as considering whether it can be increased with an SD card.

On the other hand, if you're a photography fan and use various apps to retouch your photos, you need to have enough memory to take the load. It's the same if you love gaming and want to install several games on your phone.

SD Memory

Flash memory, for example a micro SD card, “increases the amount of space you have for storing documents, images, and videos”, explains LG. We can use this type of memory to increase the phone's internal memory, and even to install certain apps. However, if we expect our phone to become a document storage device, we shouldn't put all our trust in a micro SD card because the options available can vary. As we've already said, certain apps can't be stored on our phone's additional memory, which limits how useful these cards actually are.

RAM Memory

Are you impatient, and want your phone to respond quickly to everything you ask it to do? Then don’t forget to look at RAM memory when it comes to choosing your smartphone. RAM stands for Random Access Memory and it's the kind of memory that’s constantly written and rewritten, without data being stored permanently. 

For this reason, our files should never be saved in the RAM memory as they would disappear when we switched the phone off and on again. The experts at LG give us an example: "Mobile phones use RAM memory to store a music player when we open the app, but also when we tap the Home button or open a calculator, sharing the memory between both applications. So, the more apps we open, the fuller the RAM memory will get; and the more RAM a device has, the quicker access will be to these apps – which means we'll notice that the phone runs more smoothly”.

Camera

The improvement in smartphone cameras has brought about an obsession for taking the perfect photo. If you too want to be a professional instagrammer you need to look for the following: 

Megapixels

Don't be fooled: it's not all about the megapixels. Just because you have more, it doesn't mean the camera is better. Why? Because megapixels aren't related to photo quality, but rather photo size. 

Cameras with more megapixels are not better than those with fewer. They simply mean that we can enlarge a photo more, because there are a greater number of pixels. So, to take better quality images on your smartphone you need to look at other specifications.

 

Exposure settings

Although the majority of phones adjust camera settings automatically, the best thing – according to Gadget Magazine– is to specify shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, and white balance yourself. That way you can adapt your camera to any setting and get a better result.

HDR

The High Dynamic Range system allows you to get rid of high contrast in an image. It means you can avoid backlight and burnt images and adapt the light settings to suit your photo. 

 

Processor

The processor is a fundamental part inside your smartphone. It's your device's brain – and is there to make the calculations your phone needs to function. The more powerful a processor is (measured in hertz), the more quickly these calculations will be madeand the phone will function more efficiently.

Cores

You've probably read a lot about dual core phones, or even phones with more than two cores. But what exactly are they for? The cores are the parts a processor is divided into. According to Andro4all, the cores share out the processor's work according to the tasks we ask our smartphone to do. 

Is it better for a smartphone to have more cores? Not necessarily. Experts warn that having a number of cores actually reduces battery life. And RAM memory is also affected. There is no point having eight cores if the RAM memory is limited and it ultimately leads to poor phone performance, making it slower.

Now you've read this guide on smartphone vocabulary you're ready to choose the right smartphone for you. Remember, it’s not all about the megapixels, and choosing decent internal memory could save you time deleting photos and apps in the long run.

By Joana Isbel, editora de MIT Technology Review en español