Mobile Phone Buyer's Guide

Mobile Phone Buyer's Guide

While the number of phone makers has gone down in recent years as many leave the market, there are still a staggering number of models out there for people to consider. Fortunately, there are only a few basic choices you need to make when considering your next mobile or smartphone purchase. 

A guide to the modern phone store

When buying a new phone, most people stick with the brand they know best or look to upgrade to a smarter type of device. Even when buying a present for the family or upgrading the children’s devices, most buyers stick with what they know. Whatever you are after there are two basic decisions to follow. 

Do you only need a feature phone that offers basic calling functionality like the original mobile phones, or do you want something smarter as modern smartphones cater to all budgets? 

Feature phones up to Apple/Android devices


Most smartphones fall into the Apple iOS or Android category. Or, if you don’t want a smartphone, you can buy a very low-cost feature phone. Feature phones like the resurgent Nokia 105 Mobile Phone cost around £20 and do away with the big screen, ideal for portability or use as an emergency device. 


Model

Specification

Features

Cost

Nokia 105

2G Network

 Up to 619 hours standby and 780 minutes talk time.


MP3 player

£17.95

Alba Big Button Mobile Phone

2G Dual-SIM

Up to 400 hours standby and 900 minutes talk time.

Camera

MP3 and video player

£24.95


Apple iOS smartphones range in price from £399 for the iPhone SE up to £1,299 for the iPhone 12 Pro model. If your budget falls between those two figures, you can enjoy the high-level security and massive store of the iPhone world, linking to other Apple and a world of smart home devices.


Model

Specification

Camera Features

Cost

iPhone SE

4.7” screen

4G network

64GB memory

40-hour battery

Front camera 7MP.

Rear camera 12MP.

From £399

iPhone XR

6.1” screen

4G network

64GB memory

Front camera 7MP.

Rear camera 12MP.

From £499

iPhone 12

6.1” Super Retina XDR screen,

5G network

128GB memory

Dual camera.

Front camera 12MP.

Rear camera 12MP.

From £774

iPhone 12 Pro 

6.1” OLED display

5G network

128GB memory

Dual camera.

Front camera 12MP.

Rear camera 12MP.

Second rear camera 12MP.

From £999


Then there is the massively wide world of Android phones with very basic models like the £49 Alcatel 1C providing a big screen and enough power to run typical apps like social media tools and online banking. 

The higher up the price points you go in the world of Android, the more power and storage, the better the screen quality and better features you get, all the way up to the Samsung Galaxy S2 Ultra 5G for £1,299. 

Some models pack in several cameras for higher resolutions, better quality video or greater zoon. Others use lavish screen technology like OLED for gorgeous image quality while others go with powerful processors and lots of memory so that users can play the latest games or do some serious work on their device. 


Model

Specification

Camera Features

Cost

Nokia 3.4 

6.39” 720p screen

4G network

3GB RAM, 32GB storage

Dual camera.

Front camera 8MP.

Rear camera 13MP.

Second rear 5MP camera.

£115

HONOR 9X Lite

6.5” 1080p HD screen

4G network

4GB RAM, 128GB storage

Dual camera.

Front camera 8MP.

Rear camera 48MP.

Second 2MP rear camera

£199

Huawei P30 Pro

6.5” OLED screen

4G network

8GB RAM, 128GB storage

Dual camera.

Front camera 32MP.

Rear camera 40MP.

Second rear camera 20MP.


Samsung Galaxy S20

6.7” OLED screen

5G network

12GB RAM, 128GB storage

Dual camera.

Front camera 10MP.

Rear camera 12MP.

Second rear camera 64MP.

From £999


Once you have decided what your needs are, you can browse the models that fit your budget and pick the one that best suits your specific needs. Of course, phones cram in more technology every year, much of which is incomprehensible to us, so here’s the jargon guide to help explain what’s what. 

Smartphone technology, screen and camera jargon


720p

The lowest resolution of HD standard, still acceptable on smaller smartphone screens. 

1080i/1080p

The higher resolution for HD and common across most smartphones. 

4K 

4K resolution is four times the quality of HD and only features in some high-end devices

4G

The current phone network used by most devices

5G

The latest network standard supporting faster speeds and more devices 

Megapixels 

The graphic resolution of digital camera sensors, roughly a million pixels

Pixel density

The number of pixels per inch on the screen, usually expressed as “a density of 525 pixels per inch.” - the more, the sharper the picture will look. 



What phone is best for you?

If you really don’t know what phone you need, ask what you will do with it. If you only plan to make phone calls to family and friends, a feature phone will do fine. If you want to access a few applications like email, Facebook and so on, any smartphone will meet those needs. But, if you want to watch Netflix on the go, do video editing or take great photos without lugging a big camera around, you can spend as much as you like on a higher-end device to meet those needs. 

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