Smartphones

Smartphones are essentially hand-held computers with phones and cameras.  Many of them cost as much as a laptop computer.

When it comes to choosing a smartphone, it’s a matter of lifestyle, personal interests, and budget.  You may not need a smartphone at all, or you might enjoy having the latest and greatest.

I have clients on one end of the spectrum who have tried using a smartphone and then decided to just get a simple flip phone for emergencies and, on the other end are clients who enjoy having all the bells and whistles on the latest $1,000 + phones. I have one client who has decided that he likes his phone better than using a computer and uses it exclusively.  (Actually, that’s probably the wave of the future. Young people are heading in that direction. Before very long, we may only see computers in offices.)

Unlike basic cell phones, smartphones require a data plan for email, web surfing and getting data to the apps.  A data plan will increase your cell phone bill by at least $40/mo. ($480/yr.) so you’ll need to decide if the benefits, justify the additional cost.

Ask yourself, why you want a smartphone?  Is it just because your kids say you should have one or because you don’t want to be behind the times?  Has anyone actually shown you what they can do or explained the advantages?

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decide on the best choice for your unique needs:

The Basic Functions of a smartphone include a phone, camera, address book, maps for navigation, texting, email, calendar, calculator, alarm clock and timer, web browser and voice recognition/digital assistants, like Siri, Google Assistant.

In addition, there are apps for everything under the sun — documents, banking, invoicing, music, podcasts, games, health and fitness, weather, stocks, news, and more.

People who have businesses like me may need to have a digital calendar and other business-related apps at the ready.

Some people use their phones primarily for entertainment — texting, playing games, taking photos, or listening to music or podcasts, etc.

Others depend on smartphone apps for traveling — to find RV parks, translate languages, find the best gas prices, etc.

If you just want to dip your toe in the water, there are inexpensive phones that are very good.  At some point you may find yourself wondering “what was life was like before I had a smartphone?” or you might decide you don’t need one but at least you will be making an educated decision.

If you have questions or would like a patient, understanding person to help you gain clarity, you are welcome to schedule a complimentary consultation with me.

Choosing the Right Phone

Since smartphones are mini hand-held computers, the considerations are the same as for buying a laptop or desktop computer — processing speed, memory, storage space, screen resolution, and security.

The type of processor and chipset (the processing and memory units of a computer) and the LTE bands and frequencies that connect the devices to the service providers’ networks, (Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile, AT&T, etc) are important considerations for people who run apps or games that need a lot of processing power.  These factors will not be as important for people who only make calls, send texts or use simple apps like Uber or Facebook

Screen resolution is a matter of aesthetics and will be more important to people who do a lot of photography or play video games.

Storage is important if you take a lot of photos and videos, or download a lot of music or movies.

  • Photos: 16GB = 4096 photos, 32GB = 8192 photos, 64GB = 16384 photos, 128GB = 32768 photos.  To make it simpler, if you took 10 photos a day, you’d fill up 16GB in a little over a year.
  • Videos: When recording at 720p, you get about 20 minutes HD footage, per GB of memory. So on a 32GB card, you’d get about 10 hours 40 minutes
  • Music:  1GB would give you roughly 200 songs and you could use online services like Pandora instead of downloading your own.

Camera specs will matter to avid photographers.  Most people won’t notice the differences.

You’re probably not interested in understanding all the technical specifications and that’s fine.  The main thing to keep in mind is that the technical specifications affect prices. If your needs are fairly simple, you might be very happy with a less expensive phone.  I think most people pay more than necessary.

A great source of information is thewirecutter.com  If you can understand “geek speak” and want detailed information, you can find it at https://thewirecutter.com/

iPhones

If you use an apple computer or tablet, your techie life will be much simpler if you stay in the “Apple Universe” and use an iPhone. The hardware is well-made and durable, the software is user-friendly, they offer excellent security protection, and there’s no advertising or annoying third-party apps pre-installed.

Android phones

You can get a decent Android phone for quite a bit less than the most inexpensive iPhone which is $350. The main issue with Android phones is that the Android operating system is “open source.” That means it’s available for everyone to modify. Whereas Apple has complete control of the iPhone hardware and the iOS operating system, Android hardware is made by many different companies and some of the phones aren’t kept up to date with the latest versions of the Android OS. In fact, some of the companies modify the operating system. You want to be sure that your phone will be eligible for security updates for the whole time you have your phone or be prepared to buy a new phone later. A lot of times the availability of updates depend on the carrier. (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile.)

The Benefits of Unlocked Phones

An unlocked smartphone is a phone that isn’t tied to a specific carrier or contract.  It gives you the freedom to shop for the latest phones and plans as often — or as infrequently — as you like. The biggest advantage is that they don’t come preloaded with numerous carrier applications that take up space and confuse people.  Unlocked phones are more apt to work for international travel.

Click here to see my recommendations for phones to buy.

Important Disclosure:

Some of the links are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. There is no additional cost to you. In fact, I have endeavored to save you money by choosing the products and services that are the best value.  I have not been given any free products, services or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site. I recommend them only because I want to help you make the best choices for your particular needs and budget, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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