With new devices being released multiple times a year, the itch to get a new phone is never far away. But when the time does come to trade in the old for the new, how do you even choose? Technology moves so fast that what was relevant even a year ago can feel outdated. And with so many phones on the market, picking a phone that works for you and your lifestyle can feel overwhelming.
Before you resort to closing your eyes and pointing to the nearest phone on display at your local carrier store, have a read through this post. We’ve got some considerations for you to keep in mind as you go into your next phone purchase.
Look Before You Leap
Okay, yes, we want our phones to function well and do all the things we’re used to being able to do with a pocket computer. But before features and functionality even come into play we’re thinking about looks. Our phones make quiet but powerful statements about us, so we want them to look (and feel) great.
When thinking about your next phone, consider aesthetic elements like materials, available colors and finishes, and ergonomic elements like the location of ports and buttons.
For example, HTC’s Desire line of phones is mostly plastic, which is a great fit for people who lead more active lifestyles. The One line of phones, however, is all metal and has a more luxurious look and feel.
And while you might not think it matters much where the ports and buttons are located, think about how you hold your phone and how annoying it could be to have certain buttons in different places. Do you prefer the power button on the top of the phone? Is the audio port on the top or bottom of the phone? And are the buttons prominent enough to differentiate one from another?
What Works for You
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the decision as to which device you buy should be based heavily on how you most frequently use your smartphone. Do you use it mostly as a music player? Are you taking pictures everywhere you turn? Is your phone primarily a work device? A friend of mine liked the large size of her phone because she had to read lengthy legal documents on it regularly, so a bigger screen worked for her even though the phone was a bit tricky to handle at first.
Zoom in on features that are key to you and compare them across manufacturers and models to get an idea of which devices might make the most sense for you.
One less obvious feature to consider is the manufacturers’ and carriers’ integration of an operating system. Manufacturers and carriers can and do tweak the Android OS to create a user experience that can either be great or frustrating. Think about and look at those different implementations. Are you frustrated by all the carrier-added apps you can’t delete? Consider buying an unlocked phone directly from the manufacturer, if possible.
But What if I Drop It?
Warranties and care programs are a far-less-flashy-but-still-important piece to keep in mind. Do you sometimes fling your phone across the room with wild abandon (on accident, of course)? Maybe your phone falls out of your pocket at least once a week. In these instances a good warranty or care program can make all the difference.
A few things to think about if you want to get a warranty for your phone:
- Specifics of coverage: Does the warranty cover just mechanical malfunctions or does it also cover loss or theft and physical damage?
- Coverage provider: Will a carrier warranty do the trick or would you prefer to have one directly from the manufacturer?
- Cost: Most warranties cover a two-year span, but they can vary in price. How much are you willing to pay for coverage?
Getting Off the Ground
If your phone is even just a year old, it’s very likely there’s a lot of content on it that you’ll want to transfer to your new device – messages, pictures, videos, music, and more. Some of that stuff can be (and hopefully is!) stored on an SD card you can easily move, but other content just has to be transferred on its own.
Each manufacturer and carrier have their own set-up process that can be as easy as a walk in the park or as difficult as hiking Mt. Everest. If you’re going to purchase your phone from a carrier, store employees can help with initial device set-up. Before you buy, ask about the content transfer process between your current phone and the phone(s) you’re considering. Are there apps or tools to make it easier? For example, HTC has an app called the HTC Transfer Tool that is easy to use and can transfer a wide variety of content across phones.
It Costs How Much?!
When it comes to technology we’re often willing to spend more on it than we’re willing to spend on, well, most other things in life. But that doesn’t mean cost doesn’t matter. While we generally spend our time ogling the high-end, top-of-the-line devices, there are quite a few mid-range phones that look great and perform well for much less. Consider how long you tend to keep your phones, how active a lifestyle you lead and how much you really want to spend on this device.
The key here is to put a bit of time into thinking about how you really use your phone. Power user or lightweight, music lover or mobile gamer, it will all have an influence on which device makes the most sense for you. And while we can’t stop you from using the close-your-eyes-and-point method for selecting your next phone, we hope these tips help you feel a bit more prepared to pick the right one.
Just got a new phone? Tell us what you wish you’d known before buying, or what your top considerations were for choosing your new phone!