Buying a new smartphone isn’t easy. Phones are changing at a breakneck pace, and with iOS, Android, Windows Phone and even BlackBerry OS to choose from, it’s getting harder to weigh the pros and cons. Here’s how you can narrow it down.
Decide on your budget
First off, get a fix on how much you wish to spend. This will be the first level of shortlisting, making the second and third tasks easier. For a budget of less than Rs 10,000, you’ll get Android, BlackBerry and Symbian smartphones. Between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000, you’ll get the whole host of Android, BlackBerry and Symbian phones, along with a few Windows Phone devices and the good old Apple iPhone 3GS. Beyond Rs 20,000, the sky’s the limit—you have a choice of high-end devices.
Once you decide your budget, you’ll have a fair idea of what’s within your reach. Try out various platforms—on a friend’s phone, at the nearest retailer—before narrowing it down.
A file photo of various smartphones
Below Rs 20,000, a majority of phones are single core, so you’ll have to increase your budget if dual core is a criteria. You should get an idea of what you’ll be using the phone for, which will help pinpoint the general hardware required.
Some people love touch screens, while some swear by a physical keypad. It’s a good idea to experience both device types, and then decide what you’re comfortable with. As a general rule, anyone who sends many text messages or emails from the phone will prefer a hardware keypad, all the better if it’s Qwerty. What type are you?
The basic user
If you believe that the smartphone is still primarily a phone, with familiarity being a critical criterion, you’d be best off with either a Symbian smartphone or a BlackBerry. What you get with both these OSes is a UI (user interface) that’s relatively similar to the previous versions, and even the versions before that—for they’ve been around for donkey’s years. And most of these platforms come with devices that have a physical Qwerty keypad—critical for comfort. For someone who doesn’t want a smartphone to be a learning curve, or isn’t willing to spend time getting the hang of a newer OS, familiarity is the best option. The app ecosystem isn’t very wide for Symbian and BlackBerry, but then again, we assume you wouldn’t be interested in downloading too many apps anyway!
The absolute geek
If you’re in this category, you’re the typical user who wants to tinker with the phone’s software quite a bit. That’ll include rooting/jailbreaking (removing the official software and installing your own—though I don’t approve of, or recommend, it), custom software, over-clocking...the works. While these are not advisable, as doing them creates issues with the warranty, those of you who must do it will! Which is why Android is the best option for you. You can get hundreds of custom ROMs (alternatives to the official Android operating system, made by individuals instead of Google) on the Internet that you can install on your phone. The process isn’t simple, but the geeks are doing it. It can also be done with iOS, following a simpler process. But then again, with Android, you get a wider variety of phones at multiple price points.
Spoilt for choice? BlackBerry, iOS, Android, Windows Phone—try out various platforms before making your choice
The no-nonsense user
Apple’s iOS offers possibly the best blend of functionality, performance and slick user experience. If you want a phone that does everything, I suggest checking out the iPhone. With the 3GS starting at around Rs 19,000, the entry price barrier has come down considerably. Having said that, Android is catching up superbly with the latest ICS update. Get a phone with Android version 4.0 and you’ll be sorted.
Windows Phone 7, post the Mango update, looks like a very neat package. While it is still to really catch on, we quite like the updated OS—it works well out of the box. The fact is that the performance of the Windows OS is lag-free, even on a phone with 512 MB of RAM, despite having a graphically intensive UI.
The business user
What you want is simplicity but you won’t compromise on features. You have the daily staple diet of emails, lots of messages, a bit of Web browsing and a considerable number of calls. Ideally, a phone with a Qwerty keypad will suit you the best—an immense help when typing those long mails and messages.
BlackBerry smartphones are possibly the benchmark, and the Nokia E-series phones are a solid alternative. You’ll probably have to buy a BlackBerry if your organization demands it. The Curve series range starts at about Rs 9,000, while the latest Bold 9900, with an amazing touch screen and Qwerty, is available for around Rs 30,000.
If the email set-up at your workplace isn’t locked to one type of device, we suggest checking out the Nokia E-series smartphones as well, particularly the new Nokia E6 (touch + Qwerty) and the slightly ageing but still brilliant E72 to fulfil your needs.
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