Diwali is the biggest shopping period of the year. Traditionally, major e-commerce sites like Amazon India, Flipkart and Snapdeal discount smartphones each year on Diwali. Now the trend is such that these digital platforms host weekly sales especially for smartphones and other gadgets during the festive period to entice a large section of the population.
Previous-generation smartphones usually see maximum price cuts. Along with discounts there are EMI schemes, buyback offers, etc. Even though you save a lot of bucks on smartphones during the festive period, are you confident that you are getting the best deal? We have prepared a quick guide to help you understand what you should purchase and what you should skip to ensure you’re getting the best deal. It covers everything you need to know before buying a smartphone, ranging from the phone’s processor and screen size to its operating system and price.
Google’s Android is the dominant mobile operating system. While it offers unlimited options with different designs, screen sizes, specifications, processors and price, being an open operating system manufacturers it’s can easily offer a customised experience as well. This allows you to pick a handset of your choice, unlike the iPhone.
With the latest Android 8.0 Oreo, Google has tried to add a lot of new features and software enhancements that are useful. However, you need to know that Android Oreo is available on a handful of devices only. The Pixel series and Sony Xperia XZ1 currently come with Android 8.0 Oreo. Most of the current-generation flagships, mid-end and budget smartphones run on either Android 7.0 Nougat or Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
It might not be as dominant as Android, but Apple’s iOS is considered the more secure mobile operating system. Considering it is ‘closed’ and powers only the iPhone and iPad, the mobile OS is less vulnerable to malware attacks. In contrast it’s easier to break into Android. This is because many Android smartphones don’t even qualify to get the latest software update.
Sure you get more choice with Android smartphones, but iOS is more user-friendly. Now, we come to the app store. Both Android and iOS have their respective app stores. Google Play has more apps than the App store, but it fails to match the App store, if we specifically look at the quality of apps. Simply put, app quality in the App store is far superior to Google Play store.
Although these days people tend to buy a large screen-sized smartphone, you’ll find a lot of phones with small screens as well. You cannot go wrong with the 4.7-inch iPhone 7 and 5-inch Google Pixel. Both are compact and equally powerful. Then we have smartphones like the iPhone 7 Plus and Pixel XL. These phones are perfect to watch movies on the good or reading e-books. These days a new trend is fast emerging, the one of minimum bezels. More and more smartphones feature edge-to-edge displays, such as the iPhone X, Galaxy S8 and Note 8, Honor 9i, Vivo V7+, and LG G6. Given their 18:9 aspect ratio displays, they get a fairly big screen without increasing the size of the phone.
How about the display quality? The display resolution is equally important when buying a new smartphone. The display’s colour quality and viewing angles do matter for some users. Whichever phone you pick, make sure to check the phone’s panel is bright enough for you to be able to read it in outdoors in direct sunlight. Some phones these days feature bright AMOLED screens; Samsung’s Galaxy lineup offers rich colours and deeper blacks. There are phones available in the market with HDR display such as the Sony Xperia XZ1 and LG G6, which offer better contrasts. Both Amazon and Netflix offer content in HDR.
If you are going for a mid-end phone, do check out the resolution of the display. Make sure it is Full HD (1920 x 1080) and not a HD (720) one. In our opinion, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 is the best choice in the mid-end segment. Most high-end phones these days feature a Quad HD (2560 x 1440) resolution. There are very few phones with 4K resolution, with the exception of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium.
Design is such as personal choice, but we suggest you to choose between glass or metal. There are phones available in the market with a plastic body, but to be honest, they look too cheap. We suggest you settle for a metal design; most mid-end smartphones come with a metal bodied design. Moto G5s Plus, Xiaomi Mi A1, Nokia 6 and Honor 9i are our favorite smartphones with a unibody metal chassis. We bet you can also find mid-end smartphones with a glass back, but the choices are few with the exception of the Honor 8 and Asus ZenFone 3. If you increase your budget, you get phones with IP68 rating. These phones stand for durability and water-resistance. Both the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 8 Plus are water and dust resistant in nature. You will be surprise to know that there are phones available in the market with modular designs. One such phone is the Moto Z2 Play, which can be enhances with Moto Mods. You need to shell a lot for each individual Mod, but it is fair if you are looking for a differentiated experience.
The number of megapixels is often used to describe the quality of a camera, but it’s not the essential benchmark. If possible, try the camera on the smartphone before you pay for it. While many say that the iPhone 7 Plus is less superior to the Galaxy S7 edge, in reality its dual camera impress, even in challenging lighting conditions. The same can be said about the Google Pixel XL. Even though it does not feature a dual-camera system on the back, the single camera can do wonders.
In the mid-end and budget phone category, smartphones often lack in the camera department. The situation, however, is quickly changing. Take the case of the Xiaomi Mi A1, it has a dual-camera system and good performance.
The performance of the phone is a lot dependent on the processor that sits inside. If you are considering a smartphone upwards of Rs 30,000, make sure the phone has a Snapdragon 835 processor inside. In case you’re interested, the Snapdragon 835 is the successor to the Snapdragon 821. The Snapdragon 835 guarantees the best possible gaming, virtual reality, and enhanced battery performance. A slew of high-end smartphones available in the market these days come with a Snapdragon 835, including the Nokia 8, OnePlus 5, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, Sony Xperia XZ1, HTC U11, and more.
While the Snapdragon 835 is reserved for the flagship smartphones, the Snapdragon 600 series powers mid-end smartphones, such as the Moto G5s Plus and Xiaomi Mi Max 2. Don’t expect the best performance, but the Snapdragon 600 series should offer a reasonable experience
Apple’s A11 Bionic powers the soon-to-be available iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus smartphones. This is perhaps the company’s most advanced mobile chipset, resulting in class-leading performance. Other than Qualcomm and Apple, smartphone players Samsung and Huawei offer their own custom chipsets inside the flagship devices such as the Galaxy Note 8 and Honor 8 Pro.
RAM, internal storage and microSD support
RAM is critical for multitasking, and it’s true. Make sure your smartphone has at least 2GB of system memory. If you play a lot of games, get a phone with minimum 3GB RAM. These days a mid-end phone, priced below Rs 10,000, ships with 3GB RAM as standard. If you can stretch your budget a bit (closer to Rs 15,000), there are a number of options available with 4GB RAM. Some phones such as the OnePlus 5 offer 6GB or 8GB RAM, depending on which model you prefer at the end.
Given that your phone will be used for storing music, apps, games and videos, we suggest you look for a phone with a minimum 32GB of storage. Try to avoid getting a phone with 16GB storage. A microSD card is essential to expand your phone’s storage. Unfortunately, a microSD card option is not available on the iPhone.
Battery Life and fingerprint scanner
Battery life is a critical element on a smartphone. Like specifications, one should stress a little more on the battery life before we buy a smartphone. Thankfully, there are phones available in the market that can last up to 3 days on a single charge. Always look for a phone at least 2800mAh battery life if you want the device to last a day on a single charge.
A fingerprint scanner is a handy feature on a smartphone. Not only does it unlock your phone, it can also be used to authenticate payments. These days most phones feature a fingerprint scanner, either in the front or back of the device.
A lot depends on how much you pay for a smartphone. An entry-level smartphone costs as little as Rs 3000 and goes up to Rs 86,000 for the top-end iPhone 8 Plus. Next month, iPhone X will launch in India which will cost as high as Rs 102,000 for the high-end variant. It really depends on the choice you make at the end of the day. For many people, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 fits the bill. The phone, which costs Rs 9,499, offers a lot for the buck. It has a large 5.5-inch FHD screen, decent cameras, and passable performance. These days so many phones offer decent performance and long battery life. One such example is OnePlus 5. Honor 8 Plus is another example, which delivers without asking too much cash. A piece of advice: research well before you swipe the credit card.