Buying a new smartphone, especially if you’ve never had one before, can be challenging.

There are a huge amount of smartphones out there and each manufacturer is highlighting one or two features on each device to sell you on.

No matter what phone you’re considering, there’s way more to it than the couple of features the company has chosen to highlight.

It’s a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting your hands on and to do that you will need a complete list of features that may be important to you.

You mightn’t want a massive phone if you have small hands. You won’t want a phone with low RAM if you like to multitask and you won’t want a dim screen and sub-par processor if you like to play games on mobile.

But there’s a lot more to consider if you want to be absolutely sure you’ve got a device you’ll truly be happy using day after day.

With that in mind, here are 39 things to consider before buying a new smartphone.

Build Quality

A woman holding a new smartphone she just bought

Build quality is important. A well-built smartphone constructed with premium materials will hold its value and be much less likely to develop hardware issues like ghost shadows appearing on the display or a power button failing.

This is one of the biggest cases for going with a flagship model. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be last month’s $1,200 must-have – sometimes, flagships from even two years ago are better than today’s midrange devices, and for a similar price tag.

Shop around, check reviews, and consider older flagship devices. A phone that cost $1,200 two years ago is probably still way better than a brand new midrange phone you’d pay $450 for today.

Durability is hard to come by. Smartphones are portable computers, packed into a small, easily dropped package. When considering materials, your choices boil down to metal, plastic, and glass, with glass being the most important. Roughly 64% of smartphone owners crack their screens at some point or another.

Gorilla Glass Victus and ceramic glass are your best options, with corning gorilla glass a close third. Apple’s and Samsung’s latest smartphones come with ceramic and Victus respectively. Aluminum frames and scratch-resistant back panels are important for structural integrity too. 

Don’t make the mistake of assuming something is metal. For instance, Apple’s iPhone 12’s has a frosted glass backing that looks aluminum but will shatter if impacted too hard.

Would You Prefer A Heavy Or Light Smartphone?

A heavy phone might not matter much to most people but if you wear a light pair of shorts to go jogging and like to take your smartphone with you, a 200g plus device is going to feel like a lead weight in your pocket.

The above is just an example but it’s worth considering if a heavy phone could hinder any part of your routine.

Also, the weight of the smartphone is almost always an indication of the battery type. You are usually forced to make a tradeoff. Lighter phones are convenient and more portable but they won’t have the same battery life as heavier phones. 

The Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite weighs 157 grams and feels like a feather in the hand. It also comes with a 4000mAh battery, which won’t match the standards of the day in terms of longevity. If you don’t use your smartphone that much throughout the day, that may be perfect. 

If you have a crick in your neck from looking down at your smartphone all day, you’re going to want a larger battery, which means a heavier smartphone. The more technology that’s packed into the smartphone, the more it weighs as well.

Consider The Phone’s Size

Being able to control your phone with one hand makes you more productive. It also makes you less likely to drop your device when you don’t need two hands to fully support it.

However, if you plan to use your phone as an all-in-one device for work, media consumption, and gaming, you’ll want a fairly large display.

For someone with smaller hands that mostly uses their phone to scroll social media, something like a 4.8-inch iPhone SE would be more than big enough. Most consider a 6.5-inch screen to be the best of both worlds for portability, media consumption, gaming, etc. People only tend to like larger phablet-type devices for use at home where you can enjoy a larger screen to watch movies or play games.

Smartphones have undergone some interesting transformations over the last decade. Once, everyone was fascinated by how small a smartphone could get while cramming advanced technology within. Then it turned into a race for the largest screen, culminating in the “phablet” (phone/tablet combination).

Now, folding phones with tablet-like features are growing in popularity. The size of your smartphone should be based on your hands, not how your eyes see it. If you can’t control the basic functions of a smartphone with one hand, you should look into something smaller. 

You should also consider the fact that very large screens are more vulnerable to impact damage. There is only so far you can lay a bridge over water with no support structure before the center becomes too weak.

Price And Value For Money

When considering price and value for money, you once again have to consider older flagship smartphones. For example, you could pick up the Samsung or Google flagship from last year for about the same price as you could get their current midrange models.

You might get a couple of new snazzy features on their new midrange offerings, but the overall build quality is going to be better than last year’s flagship device. Last year’s high-end device is also going to have a faster processor, more RAM, more storage, and a brighter, higher-definition screen.

You should only consider a current flagship model if you have $1,000 – $1,200 bucks to spare and you just want the best.

Owning the latest and greatest smartphones is more of a status symbol nowadays than it is a reflection of functionality. For instance, there is no game on the iPhone 13 that you can’t play on an iPhone 11. Unless you are a photographer or content creator by trade, how much better than 4k should you really want to go?

Around 95% of the things that most people do on a premium, brand new, high-end smartphone can be done just as easily on a midrange model. If you prefer the basic essentials of a smartphone, an older, flagship model is the right choice. 

When a new smartphone is released, you will typically find a ton of sales on the previous generation model. Stores have to get rid of old stock to make way for the new. This is a good way to get in on some fantastic deals on premium phones that are only one generation behind.

After Sales Service

If you look into which smartphone manufacturer has the best after-sales service, you won’t find much to differentiate them. Apple and Samsung have the most skin in the game. Apple dropped below Samsung by a single point in the Customer Service Index of 2021.

However, Apple and Samsung drew even again in 2022. Both of their customer service satisfaction results hover around 80%, with Google and Motorola coming in third and fourth respectively.

If you’re buying from an online retailer, check their customer service reviews. You shouldn’t have any issues with after-sales service from Amazon but if you’re buying from a massive online retailer that’s located in the far east, you may have a nightmare if you need any level of after-sales service.

Does It Come With A Good Warranty

Smartphone manufacturers will often try to get out of having to fix your phone for free under warranty. For example, if you have an issue with the display, like dead pixels, they will scrutinize your phone and if they find the tiniest bit of damage around the display, they’ll blame you and demand payment for the repair – unless you are paying extra for a premium warranty.

Price and longevity dominate the decision-making process at the consumer level. What use is a high-end smartphone if it’s falling apart in a year? Apple has one of the most comprehensive and long-term warranties and repair options through Apple Care+ and manufacturer warranties. 

However, you will pay a premium price for those services. Android is catching up, with Google not far behind. Motorola, Google, Apple, and Samsung have repair centers all over the country, with Apple’s being the most expensive. 

All of the above manufacturers release new smartphones with one-year warranties so it’s a matter of support. Apple supports its phones far longer than Google or Samsung, going back 7 years to the iPhone 6s. Samsung is making gains, however, at 5 years for updates and security improvements.

The Phone’s Design

There have been many stunning smartphones over the years. The Essential Phone, Lumia 920/1020, iPhone 4, Galaxy S6 Edge, Note 10+, and HTC One M7 or M8, just to name a few.

Certain phone designs will jump out at you for various reasons and it’s important to get one you like, considering you’ll be looking at it several times per day for at least the next year.

One of the biggest complaints about iPhones, the massive notch at the top, was addressed with the iPhone 14, converting the notch into an interesting, touch interface. That’s just one of many interesting design changes that take place when new smartphones hit the market. 

Design features draw the eye faster than anything else, so it all depends on what your personal aesthetic appeal is. Samsung’s Galaxy line comes with more color options and a vertical row of cameras. Apple’s iPhones sport an expensive aesthetic but suffer from the protruding “tri-pod” camera lenses on the back. 

The Google Pixel 6 features a camera bar that is really popular. Then there are the flip phones with folding interior screens and exterior screens as well. Whether you prefer thin, delicate bezels, squared-off, thicker phones, or sleek race car designs, smartphone manufacturers don’t make it an easy choice.

The Display

If you love playing games on your smartphone and watching the likes of YouTube, Netflix, and Disney Plus, you’ll want a large, bright screen with high definition and a high refresh rate.

You’ll often find a better screen on last year’s flagship than you will on current midrange models for similar money.

The display is right behind the phone’s design and aesthetics in terms of consumer appeal. There is only so much an exterior shell can do to support a 720p LCD display that belongs in 2012. If you want the best display on the market, there are a few things you should look out for. 

  • OLED (Super Retina for Apple and QHD for Samsung)
  • Variable (adaptive) refresh rates
  • Bright colors that don’t lose color with brightness levels
  • Screen size
  • Curved screens vs. flat screens

When it comes to the best displays, it’s always a fierce battle between Samsung and Apple, with the rest of the smartphone industry picking up the pieces. For the best brightness, you want 800 to 1,200 nits. A variable refresh rate up 120Hz is preferable as well. 

You won’t find better displays than the latest iPhone and Galaxy lines but Google and Motorola manufacture some good displays as well. Curved screens look really nice but they don’t add anything so it’s a matter of preference.

The Amount Of RAM May Be Important 

As you use your phone the data gets held in RAM. The more RAM you have to play with, the more apps you’ll be able to quickly access and switch between without experiencing any lag.

If you are a multitasker that likes to flick between loads of open windows, RAM is your best friend. Gaming is great on a smartphone but it’s nowhere near the same as PC or even console gaming. So while RAM is important for mobile gaming, it’s more important for multitasking, unless you’re looking at a pure gaming smartphone.  

If you’re looking for the most RAM for non-gaming smartphones, the Galaxy S22 comes with 8G, with a separate model sporting 12GB. With Android, RAM Is one of the biggest things you need to look for if you’re a multitasking machine on your smartphone. 

With Apple, RAM works a bit differently. Apple iPhones typically come with 4GB and 6 GB of RAM but don’t let that fool you. Whereas Android’s Java holds a ton of code, so it can operate on multiple systems, Apple has a more serious and rigid management and optimization structure on how its RAM is used.

It works very effectively for Apple so lower RAM amounts shouldn’t be a concern when you see it on an Apple device. Then there are the gaming smartphones like ASUS ROG Phone 6, which comes with 16GBof RAM.

The Processor

Your phone’s processor is the brain of your device. It executes all commands and performs countless calculations per second. How powerful the processor is will directly affect every app you run on your smartphone, whether that’s the camera or YouTube.

An underperforming processor can lead to your phone getting hot, lagging, and freezing up. It can also lead to poor camera performance and bad battery life.

If there are two phones you like but one has a better processor – best go with that one.

The best smartphone processor on the market today is the Apple A14 Bionic, with the A15 Bionic released with the iPhone 14. The Snapdragon 888 and the Exynos 2100 round out the top three with the A13 Bionic popping up in 4th.

Will You Be Needing A Lot of Storage?

Everybody underestimates their storage needs. Sure, there is a major disparity between the price of a 64GB smartphone and a 128GB smartphone. You may think that all you’re going to do is make phone calls and text messages, which is fine. 

The problem is the first time you get ahold of the camera. There aren’t many smartphones that don’t take high-definition pictures anymore. You’ll be stunned at how quickly pictures and a few videos eat through your 64GB, seemingly overnight. 

There are ways to deal with it but they aren’t hassle-free. You’ll need cloud backups and thumb drives to keep transferring and wiping. While 256GB or half a terabyte may seem a bit much, 128GB is usually the minimum you’d want to go for, if you’d like to keep all your files available offline and have a reasonable amount of storage for pictures and videos.

Does It Come With A Charger?

Unfortunately, more and more smartphone manufacturers are going down the road of not offering a charging brick in the box to supposedly save on e-waste.

If it’s not your first phone and you’re not switching from Android to Apple or vice versa, you probably have a heap of chargers lying around at home that will do the trick.

Apple manages to aggravate the heck out of everyone with this, seeing as their charging cables are not universal. You spend around $12,000 on one of Apple’s top-tier smartphones and they won’t even grace you with a charging brick. You’ll get the cord, of course. But the first time you plug the lighting cable into a random brick you find around the house, your iPhone rejects it. 

It’s infuriating, to say the least, and one of the big drawbacks of purchasing an iPhone. Samsung and Google do the same thing, but their smartphones aren’t as picky about what brick you use. 

The manufacturers that do provide a brick charger are often accused of facilitating plastic waste. Do yourself a favor and purchase a large, Magsafe charger and chuck everything else.

If you flat out refuse to buy a phone that doesn’t include a charger – and some do, you’ll be happy to know that there are still some reputable brands, like OnePlus, that still include a charger.

Camera Performance And Features

Even if you don’t fancy yourself as an amateur photographer, a good camera incorporated into your phone will really come in handy and there’s a good chance you’ll end up taking a lot more photos than you might think.

Cameras are arguably the greatest features that smartphone manufacturers battle over today. The best camera features on offer today include the iPhone 14 Pro, the Galaxy S22 Ultra, and the Google Pixel 6 Pro. 

If you want a good camera that takes excellent photos (that matches standard cameras from a few years back), a mid-price phone is more than enough. If you want the best the industry has to offer, you will have to go after one of the three, above-listed smartphones, at a premium price. 

The best smartphone cameras include the following:

  • RAW Image Format
  • High megapixels
  • Depth sensors
  • Optical zoom
  • Large aperture for low-light conditions (night mode)
  • Multiple lenses for focal lengths, telephoto, wide angle, etc
  • Image stabilization
  • High-end processor
  • 4k recording at 60 fps

There is a lot that goes into superior photography options on today’s smartphones. A lot of the features in them are things that only a professional photographer would understand in terms of having practical experience with them. 

In other words, just because it sounds really cool, doesn’t mean you should pick it.

Battery Life

Battery life is worth consideration but it’s no showstopper when it comes to picking a new smartphone. As long as you’re getting even average battery life (at least 5 hours screen on time) you shouldn’t need to worry too much. You can always give your phone a quick charge during the day or when you get home.

With the new 45-watt chargers you can get from 0-70% in just about half an hour. Even if you only have 15 minutes to charge your device, you can still get another 35% on it and that should be enough to get you home.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max has about the best battery life out of any flagship device, lasting up to 17 hours if usage isn’t too heavy. The Galaxy S22 Ultra comes a close second and can last around 13 hours with light to medium usage.

Every battery on earth has a limited number of cycles (the number of times it can be charged before it loses its ability to take a full charge anymore). So it’s not just about the biggest battery and the number of mAh. Samsung phones and iPhones have huge batteries and they barely reach the top ten in best smartphone batteries.

Battery life is a careful balance. Most new smartphones have decent batteries, however, if you run games, 4K movies, and multitask with multiple, resource-hogging software, you’re going to burn through even the best batteries. 

How much you use your smartphone and what you do on your smartphone should dictate the kind of battery you’re looking for.

Is The Battery Removable?

Manufacturers today like to force us to change our smartphones when the battery packs in. If you have a phone with an easily replaceable battery you could squeeze a lot of extra life out of the device just by swapping the old battery for a new one.

However, this wouldn’t be the best for the corporation’s bottom line as they want to sell more phones and drive profits. It also makes a mockery of the whole “excluding a charger to save the environment” thing.

Most newer smartphones rarely feature removable batteries anymore. You can remove batteries from iPhones and most Android smartphones but it takes a high degree of patience and care not to damage the phone throughout the process, and is usually not recommended to attempt. 

They aren’t designed to be opened without removing a number of parts that aren’t manufactured to be easily removable. If you are looking for a smartphone with a removable battery, you won’t find that option in an iPhone.

Some Android smartphones, like the Fairphone 4, are designed with easily removable batteries, but they usually aren’t high-end or even mid-tier smartphones that you hear about every day.

User Interface

For the most part, user interfaces in modern smartphones are intuitive. Even if you are completely unfamiliar, with a little practice and patience and there will be nothing you can’t do on your phone in an instant.

Whether you’re looking for ease of use or to make apps for either an Android or iOS device, UI (User Interface) is important. If you are a frequent PC user, Google’s Android is Linux based and uses a Material Design Language. Apple’s UI is based on an open-source Darwin OS but is itself not open-source. 

PC users will find familiarity with Android smartphones and probably prefer them, especially the stock Android UI, which is the most popular no matter how many times other manufacturers try to tweak it. If you’re looking for simplicity, Apple is the way to go, with one of the simpler user interfaces available. 

Both types are filled with streamlined features and Android devices feature a high level of customization to Apple’s more restrictive version. Apple is growing within its closed environment, however, and there is no denying that things like FaceTime and iMessage are leaps and bounds above anything on Android. 

However, you can truly make an Android phone your own with enormous customization options that iPhones lack. You also have to remember that while Android phones are marketed as “Android” phones, the manufacturers each have a slightly different version of UIs.

Security Features

The most important thing is that your phone will receive software and security updates from the manufacturer for as long as possible. That’s one drawback to going with an older flagship device because it won’t receive security updates for as long as a newly released mid-range smartphone.

Apple has an advantage here when it comes to security since they have a closed system and don’t release their source code to developers. For that reason—and the fact that android’s OS is more prevalent—hackers tend to target Android devices far more often. 

Updates are frequently released for both iOS and Android platforms and if you don’t update your phone, a security breach is mostly your fault, regardless of what platform you are using. You do have to be more cautious when using the open source system with an Android but you also have to stay on top of the updates.

If the smartphone you go with is no longer receiving security updates, it’s still OK to use, just be careful about the apps you install and do your best not to click on any shady links.

Speaker And Audio Quality

If you like to stream content or listen to music on your phone at home, the quality of your phone’s speakers will be important to you, especially if you don’t fancy wearing headphones the whole time.

But honestly, you’re not going to get the best of the best regardless of what you go with. After all, speakers are nearly an afterthought with the popularity of graphics, app designs, and cameras dominating everything in a solid smartphone today. 

That doesn’t mean that the speakers are bad, they’re just tiny and you can’t expect to get a high level of quality out of any of them. Some do sound better than others, however, with the Asus ROG Phone 5 and the Google Pixel 6 Pro leading the pack.

If you listen carefully enough, you might hear a little bit of bass in them. Apple’s iPhone 13 is generally considered to be pretty good, though it sits behind the above two in most testing. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 has dual stereo speakers and sounds pretty decent if there is no background noise. 

Regardless of what smartphone you go with, the speakers are great for watching Tik Tok videos, using a speakerphone, or conducting a video call. But when it comes to music, movies, and audiobooks, you need some good headphones. 

Does The Phone Come With A Headphone Jack?

If you have a nice set of headphones at home you’re probably going to want a headphone jack on your smartphone to plug them into.

Unfortunately, this is a feature we are seeing less and less of on new smartphones. And it’s a little unjustified seeing as the headphone jack takes up so little space and there is no innovative feature to take its place.

Apple disappointed fans when they ditched the 3.5mm jack with the iPhone XS release. You won’t get a 3.5mm jack with any of the newer iPhones. Instead, you will have to get an adapter “dongle” that doesn’t come with the iPhone. 

Samsung is experimenting with this too and began removing 3.5mm jacks back in 2019. Fortunately, you can still find premium Android phones that have them. If you really want a headphone jack, you shouldn’t purchase an iPhone, unless you are prepared to spend a little more money on a dongle. 

Most of the premium lineups of Android phones no longer have jacks either and you will have to settle for a dongle as well.

If you really want a smartphone with a headphone jack you might have to go back as far as the Google pixel 5A to get a decent one.

Consider A Phone Case And Screen Protection

Whichever smartphone you go with, you’re going to want a case and screen protection. As your phone is in your pocket, it will inevitably pick up scuffs and scratches from grit and other objects like coins and keys.

You may not plan to put your keys in the same pocket as your phone, but it’s likely to happen at some point by accident.

Fortunately, no matter what you choose as your new smartphone, there are a large variety of cases and protective glasses to purchase separately. Some of the newer phones have glass that is designed with more strength and casings that are designed to resist impact damage. 

But even Corning Gorilla Glass and Ceramic Glass are not completely resilient to scratches and abrasions. Most of the available protective screens are cheap but will stand in as a sacrificial protectant for the underlying screen.

Go for a tempered glass protector as they are great to prevent damage and feel smooth to the touch.

Cases are another matter. Some are simply better than others but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any smartphone for which cases and screen protection haven’t been designed.

There are many great phone cases available but a great one to go for is the Otterbox Defender.

4G Or 5G

Your cellular service provider is the best way to make this choice. If you have no coverage in your area or even the surrounding area, spending the extra money for 5G capabilities isn’t going to make your smartphone’s internet service any faster. 

Of course, if you purchase a 5G smartphone, it is more than capable of handling 4G all the way down to 1X. One thing you should strongly consider is whether or not 5G is even necessary. A 4G speed is more than capable of streaming all of your content at 4k. 

On the other hand, 5G is capable of streaming 8k video and much more. In other words, there is probably nothing that you plan on doing that will even call for a 5G connection. Although you will notice that browsing on your phone will be much faster and graphic-heavy web pages will load a lot quicker when you have a 5G connection. Right now, 5G speeds are more widely embraced in business, where that kind of speed is necessary. 

Until you need a smartphone that can run 8k virtual reality at a 120Hz refresh rate, there really isn’t much need for a 5G connection.

Fingerprint Reader Or Face Unlock

Face unlock is great because it works instantly and accurately 99% of the time without you having to do anything, seeing as you are almost always looking at your phone when using it. Meanwhile, fingerprint readers might fail to read your print one out of every few tries and even more often when your hands are wet or you don’t lay your finger down flat.

Fingerprint readers also vary in quality quite a bit depending on the device you use. The Samsung Galaxy phones have very responsive and accurate fingerprint readers while the Google Pixel 6’s fingerprint scanners are very slow and often require two attempts before you can unlock your phone.

It’s noticeable when you have to press your finger against the screen of your phone for a full second before you get a response.

Facial recognition unlocking features are more sophisticated than the standard thumbprint biometrics, however, that doesn’t make it better for some people. Not everybody wants to use their face to open their phone. 

Touch ID features are far safer than facial recognition features because it is much more difficult to replicate a fake fingerprint and use it. If you want to use your thumbprint to unlock your phone, you won’t have much use for an iPhone, since Apple has largely done away with it. 

There are a few exceptions, such as the iPad, which features an index finger unlocking mechanism on the corner button. Android smartphones, however, still offer several devices which allow for both thumbprints and facial recognition, so you can at least have a choice.

Water Resistance

Some people just tend to get their smartphones wet more than others. Then there are those who spend a lot of time on or in the water. If you are either of those types, there are a number of smartphones today that feature the best water resistance technology.

Keep in mind that even though your phone may be water-resistant, you still shouldn’t take it with you into a sauna or hot tub. 

  • iPhone 13 Pro Max—IP68 water resistance up to 20 feet for 30 minutes
  • iPhone SE (2022)—IP67 water resistance up to 3.3 feet for 30 minutes
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra—IP68 water resistance up to 5 feet for 30 minutes
  • iPhone 13—IP68 water resistance up to 20 feet for 30 minutes
  • OnePlus 10 Pro—IP68 up to 5 feet for 30 minutes
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro—IP68 up to 5 feet for 30 minutes
  • Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus—IP68 up to 5 feet for 30 minutes
  • Google Pixel 6a—IP67 up to 3 feet for 30 minutes
  • Google Pixel 6—IP68 up to 5 feet for 30 minutes
  • iPhone 12 (all models)—IP68 up to 20 feet for 30 minutes

All of the smartphones on the list will tolerate submersion, so long as it isn’t any deeper than the specs on the phone allow and as long as you remove it from the water in less than half an hour. You can forget all of these phones in your back pocket when you jump into the pool for a swim and they will be alright.

Would You Utilize Wireless Charging?

Being able to wirelessly charge your phone is convenient. It saves hassle when you don’t have to fumble around with a cable and can just stick your phone down on a charging pad when in bed or at your desk.

If you have multiple cables at home for charging multiple devices, it can be a real-time saver to be able to just plonk a phone down on a charging pad and walk away without having to untangle a mass of cables and then locate the right one.

You would need to find an older smartphone that doesn’t include wireless charging as a feature. In fact, it’s almost better to get a wireless charger because Samsung and Apple both skimp on providing a charging brick in the box when you make your purchase. 

Wireless charging is much easier and it’s nearly universal from one smartphone upgrade to the next. The only exception would be charging in the car. However, they make wireless chargers for that as well and a charging brick is pretty useless in a car anyway.

Is Fast Charging Important?

Gone are the days when you would have to wait hours for your phone to charge. The latest 3.0-compatible fast-charging smartphones can charge from 0-50% in around 15 minutes.

This is a game changer for when you need to get a quick charge on your phone before heading out the door again.

Before you consider a smartphone, be sure to check out its fast charging capabilities.

Most of the newer smartphones support fast charging, at least to a degree. For instance, the LG V60 supports up to 25W chargers, which is a little higher than the standard charger for an Apple iPad and it will charge an LG V60 relatively quickly. 

The Vivo IQOO 7, on the other hand, supports up to 120W chargers, which is insanely fast. The slowest charging smartphones are some of the newer flip-screen designs, like the Galaxy Z Flip 3. 

All of the Google Pixels from the original to the Pixel 5 won’t support anything more than an 18w charger and Apple iPhones support up to 20W all the way up to the iPhone 13, which boosts that to 27W. 

Fast charging is as important as you need it to be. If you live a life that is always on the fly, you’ll want something that will boost your phone fast so you can get out and about again.

Software And Security Updates

At present Samsung offer Android updates for three years and security updates for four years on most of their phones, Google offers five years’ worth of updates with their newest Pixel phones, and Apple’s latest iPhones will receive roughly six years’ worth of updates.

It’s worth keeping in mind that if you go for an older phone it won’t receive updates for as long as current models.

You can still use a phone that’s not receiving updates, you just won’t get to experience the latest version on the OS and you’ll have to be a little more conscious about clicking on shady links and downloading shady apps.

According to IT Pro, the most secure smartphones are the Purism Librem 5, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, the Google Pixel 6, the Bittium Tough Mobile 2C, and the Sirin Labs Finney. If you’re surprised that the Google Pixel 6 made it into the lineup, you shouldn’t be.

Google has made it widely known that its security updates prioritize its own line of phones, with all other Android smartphones being last on the list. The other smartphones (outside of the iPhone 13 Pro Max) are hardened against intrusion and feature frequent updates.

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro Max is just the latest version in Apple’s lineup of strongly secured devices that receive regular security updates. However, if you want the ultimate protection, a mobile VPN is the best method, regardless of what smartphone you choose.

Will The Phone Hold Its Value For When It Comes Time To Trade In?

Apple leads the pack here and it’s not even close. In terms of holding its value so you can get the most out of your trade, iPhones are the way to go.

The trade-in value of Samsung S devices is the best among Android smartphones and Google Pixel models come in at a close third place.

12 months24 months
Apple-49% in value-66% in value
Samsung-65% in value-79% in value
Google-64% in value-80% in value

Do You Need Specific Accessibility Features?

If you need certain accessibility features, iPhones and Android phones all have a host of apps and accessibility settings including screen readers, settings to change display and font sizes, voice controls, as well as apps, and settings that provide alternative views for people who struggle with low vision and lots more.

Google Assistant is your virtual assistant on Google Pixel and all other Android phones while Siri is numero uno on iPhones.

Apple Pay and Google Pay make your payments easier at the counter, rather than having to dig through your wallets, pockets, or purses. All smartphones come with enlarged text features and various screen magnification software. 

If you wear a hearing aid or deal with hearing problems, be sure to check the action and hearing loss specs on a smartphone before you buy it.

Specifically, look for the “M” and “T” ratings. M is for microphone and T is for Telecoil. There will be a number from 1 to 4 next to the letter, with the higher number being the best and the lowest the worst. 

M indicates how well a microphone works with a hearing aid and T indicates how well the Telecoil works with a hearing aid.

Consider A Smartphone With A Good Haptic Motor

Haptic feedback is kind of addictive and it does improve the overall user experience, especially for gaming and just your general touchscreen use.

Improved haptics can make you faster and more accurate when using your device and If you’re used to using a smartphone that has excellent haptic feedback and then pick up an older phone to use, the difference is really noticeable.

Apple uses what is called the Taptic Engine and it’s part of what makes iPhones so enjoyable. A haptic motor is useless without the right software, after all. 

In fact, if you love haptic feedback, with precision for every tap, knock, or movement of your phone, there is no better substitute than Apple’s Taptic Engine. Android phones are great in so many areas, but resale value and haptic feedback are not a part of that.

The closest you can come to outstanding haptic feedback with an Android is Google’s Pixel lineup. However, the Xiaomi 11 Ultra and LG V60 also provide excellent haptics.

Do You Need A Phone To Have A Good Gyroscope Sensor?

All a gyroscope does is sense how you are holding the phone and it will flip the screen accordingly. Or, the processor uses the gyroscope to dictate the orientation of the screen, to be more specific. A good gyroscope is essential because some websites are not streamlined for mobile use. 

So you can get on a website and the page will be too wide for your phone since it’s not optimized for your mobile device. However, you can flip your phone horizontally, and generate a shorter but wider page. Without a gyroscope, you’ll just be looking at the page sideways. 

If you spend a lot of time browsing the web, using Google maps to navigate, playing games like Pokémon GO that makes use of an AR camera, or reading books on your smartphone, you need a good gyroscope.

All current flagships should come with a capable gyroscope sensor but if you’re buying an older or budget phone, check to see if that specific device has a gyroscope.

Consider Bloatware?

Bloatware usually isn’t a concern in smartphones but if you’re buying a device with limited storage you might want to pick one that comes with as little bloatware as possible. 

Apple has several apps that come with the iPhone, as does Samsung, Google, Motorola, LG, etc. Every manufacturer has their own, built-in apps that come with their respective smartphones. 

The real problem is the service provider, otherwise known as Verizon, AT;T, T-Mobile, Boost), Mint, and others. Sometimes, they love to pack smartphones with their own bloatware. Where Apple and Android manufacturer bloatware is often useful, almost nothing from a cellular service provider is useful outside of maybe paying your bill quickly. 

Do You Need Dual SIM Support?

If you are going to need to be using two phone numbers with your device, dual SIM support will come in handy. Whether that’s one number for professional correspondence and another for personal use or a local number for when you are on holiday. Of course, there are other ways to take advantage of dual SIMs, but those are the biggest ones. It’s convenient to switch back and forth between SIMs for business and home without having to carry two phones. 

You can also use it to take advantage of a cheaper data plan on one SIM while using a cheaper talk and text plan on the other. Stay away from Dual SIM passive phones, as they are a waste of time. Passive means that only one can be active at a given time.

That means when you switch to your business SIM, your family is cut off from communicating with you. Dual SIM Dual Active is the way to go, so you can receive and make phone calls to whomever, the SIMs switching accordingly. 

Do You Need Good Support For Specific LTE Bands?

LTE bands are difficult to understand unless you do this sort of thing for a living. There are multiple LTE bands for different carriers. Some carriers use the same bands that others use and some use bands that none of the others use. 

If you live in the city (anywhere in the country), this isn’t such a big deal, as there is excellent infrastructure and fantastic support for various bands, regardless of your carrier. Rural living is where band support becomes critical. 

Low-band spectrum support is crucial in urban areas. While Verizon has a lot of faults, especially when it comes to high prices, they remain the best when it comes to low-band support in rural locations around the country. 

If you’re concerned about purchasing a smartphone and you live in the country, you need to check your carrier’s coverage areas first and foremost. The last thing you want is for your smartphone to be a paperweight at home and only useful when you drive in to work. 

Unblockable Bootloader

Unlocking the bootloader on your phone allows you to skip the signature check during boot-up. This allows you to install custom firmware and access full privileges to make modifications to your smartphone.

This is the kind of thing you want if you love to jailbreak your smartphones. For all other smartphone users, this doesn’t apply. Verizon and AT;T keep their bootloaders locked, so it’s just a matter of how difficult it is to unlock them. 

Some smartphones only require an OEM code to unlock, which includes some Huawei phones, LG V20, and LG G6, some Moto smartphones, the Sony Xperia XZ, and the HTC Ultra lineup. 

You can use fastboot commands to unlock most of the Google Pixels, the Nokia 6, Most OnePlus models, and the Essential PH-1. If you’re just looking for a smartphone with some cool features and you aren’t interested in jailbreaking it, an unlockable bootloader is not going to be high on your priority list. 

Is The Smartphone Easy To Repair

There is always a chance your phone is going to get water damaged or dropped at some point. And in the case that does happen, you’ll feel more at ease knowing your phone is easily repairable.

For example, if you buy a Motorola Razr and need to get that repaired, Good luck! Because it scores a 1 out of 10 on iFixit’s repairability scoreboard.

If you have a degree in computer repair or you are a computer repair technician, no smartphone is going to be difficult to repair. As far as rated difficulties from repair shops, the Fairphone 3 is the easiest to fix, period. 

Everything else falls into the moderate to difficult category. Google Pixels are rated pretty highly in the “easier to repair” category, as is the iPhone 13, with the exception of the battery and back glass. 

Speaking of the back glass, if you own an iPhone 12 or newer, the back glass is an atrocity to try and fix. It’s horrible. Phone repair technicians will hate you for bringing it in. There’s just no easy way to replace it so it will cost you a pretty penny. 

Support for the Latest Version of Bluetooth

If you regularly use Bluetooth to pair portable and fixed devices, you want a smartphone that supports the latest Bluetooth version. This will allow for higher data transfer speeds, a better more stable connection range, and better security compiled with older versions of Bluetooth.

Bluetooth 5.2 is the latest version and almost all of the smartphones released in the last year and a half to two years will support it. If wearing wireless headphones or earbuds is one of your favorite things, 5.2 is must-have support, especially if your headphones are pretty high-end. 

Fortunately, Bluetooth version support is readily labeled on a smartphone’s specs, whether you look at it on the box while you’re in the store, or skim the specs during an online purchase.

An LED Indicator Can Be Useful

An LED indicator is a simple but incredibly useful feature on a smartphone. The blinking LED alerts you to the fact that you have received a notification, without making a sound or without you having to touch your phone.

Some people who are used to these on older phones find it hard to make the adjustment to newer models that don’t feature them.

LED indicators are fading out of the limelight when it comes to newer smartphones. That’s because Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and Google are sacrificing them to make way for screens that can take up the entire front side of the phone. 

Nowadays, smartphones use the flashlight on the back to light up when you get notifications or, you can download an app that essentially does what LED indicators used to do.

Some older Samsung Galaxy smartphones and some Xiaomi phones like the Xiaomi Note 10 still use LEDs that blink various colors to let you know about notifications on your phone.

Always On Display

With an always on display, you don’t have to trigger the lock screen to see useful information on your phone. You can even set it to turn on as you receive notifications and then stay on until you have read them all.

For a smartphone to have this feature, it needs to have an AMOLED display. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will support AOD, only that AOD only works on OLED screens. You have to use a workaround method to get an AOD to work on iPhones, with the upcoming iPhone 14 being the only one to offer it in the Apple lineup. 

Only a few select Android phones come with Always-On Displays as a feature. They run at 1Hz, so there is not a significant drain on the battery.

Good NFC Support

NFC is Near-Field Communications. It’s what enables things like Google Pay and Apple Pay. It’s also good for smart homes and short-range communications with other smart devices in your home.

NFC payments with your smartphone provide increased security compared with using your debit card and pin.

It’s rare to find good NFC tech on mid-range and lower-end smartphones. You will have to stick to premium models to take advantage of good NFC Support.

All Things Considered

There’s a lot to consider before you put out significant money on a smartphone you are going to use day in and day out for probably at least the next year or two.

By considering everything on this list before you make a purchase, you can at least be reasonably sure that you’ll get yourself a smartphone you will be happy with.