Thursday, September 29, 2011

Choosing an Android smartphone

This is in response to a comment at the end of a previous post asking what smartphone to buy.
There is no point of me saying such-and-such model is good because these things change all the time. Like anything else, it that depends on what you want to use it for. Gaming, Social Media (Facebook-ing), just checking mail or an attempt to replace your PC.
Three elements make up a smartphone.
  • The phone
  • The apps
  • The service or carrier

The physical attributes of the phone is a very personal preference. Some like a big screen, others want a keyboard. Some are looking for HDMI output, others want a phone small enough for their purse or fanny pack. Nothing beats going to the shops and holding one in your hand. Choice is what Andriod users have in abundance.
The apps that can run are important especially if you can't live without Macromedia Flash and Firefox. Some don't care. What you do need to know are the quirks about the particular Andriod version. Version 2.1 can't run apps stored on the SD card (argh! Palm Pilot flashback!), Version 2.2 is what I use but you may demand the latest and greatest, Gingerbread (V2.3). Any limitation to the apps is tied to the particular phone. Like Flash is looking for phones with an ARM7 processor (or so I am told). Don't settle for 2.1 unless you intend to root the phone and install custom ROMs. In that case, find the cheapest and good luck. Try not to skimp on memory because there is this quirk that even though you have tons of free space and apps on the the SD card, the apps installed do eat up phone memory too, even if it is on the SD card.
Another aspect is what apps are available specifically for a phone. I love that my phone has both a tethering (able to connect PC to phone and use it as a modem) and portable hotspot options. Apparently not every phone has and not all carriers allow this. Some apps a dependent on the phone features itself, like an enhanced music player. So as you are looking, notice the unique features each phone has.
Finally, you may or may not care about service and what phones are available for what service. Remember it is a phone so coverage is important. For Malaysia, rule of thumb is Digi is the cheapest but with the worst network. Don't be surprised if you're just out of the city area and left with GPRS. In town, Digi is great. Celcom has the largest network but they charge an arm and a leg for unlimited data. Don't know about Maxis, though.From their website, they are about the same as Celcom. Think about where you live and what is the coverage like. But if you are connecting mainly via Wifi you may not care as much.

Think about those three elements and what do you think your purpose will be. If you don't have a data plan yet, look for a bundle with a carrier because it will save you one.
Once you have narrowed down the phones, check out their video reviews at PhoneArena. Their reviews are fairly unbiased and they demonstrate in detail the phone itself. The darkroom review portion is simply genius as it really gives an idea how the screen looks and reacts.
I am not going to touch on the budget because that really depends on the deal you can find. Find a bundle if possible, especially if you don't have an existing data plan. Even if money is not an object, buy the phone with a data plan and you can form your own opinions for the next purchase.
Remember, it is just a phone.
Continued here.

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