Trying to find the best smartphone to fit your needs? There are many different phones to choose from, with a wide range of features. Whether you want a small screen, a lightweight phone, or a tried and true operating system, we can help with this rundown of the most popular smartphone brands around.
How to Buy the Right Smartphone for Your Needs
It’s right up there with your wallet and keys, and it can sometimes even double as your wallet and keys. Your smartphone has become an indispensable companion, helping you stay on top of email and social updates, take and share photos and videos, play music and games, and do a whole lot more.
So we probably don’t have to tell you that choosing the right device is a big deal.
Our smartphone buying guide covers everything you need to know before you buy, ranging from operating system and screen size to the camera and the carrier.
Use this advice to make sure you get the very best handset for your needs and budget.
Operating System: Android, iOS or other?
Android dominates worldwide sales of smartphones, and for good reason. You’ll find many more choices than iOS or Windows Phone when it comes to design, display size, specs, capabilities and price.
Plus, Android is an open OS, which means it’s easy to customize with widgets, launchers, your choice of keyboard and more.
Some Android phone makers, such as Samsung and LG, trick out the software with additional enhancements, such as more robust multitasking and easier access to settings.
With the latest version of Android, 5.0 Lollipop, the OS offers a slicker and more intuitive design, improved quick settings, and Priority Mode for showing the notifications only from people who matter most.
Plus, Android offers a huge number of apps in its Google Play store. However, when a new version of Android arrives, it can take a while for the updated OS to hit your phone.
Android is one of the most popular, go-to smartphone brands in existence — and for good reason! There are many different Android makers, such as Samsung and LG, which means there’s bound to be a phone to fit your needs.
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus run the latest version of Apple’s operating system, which offers all sorts of enhancements. You’ll find an improved Photos app, interactive notifications and (finally) the ability to swap out your keyboard.
Plus, Family Sharing lets up to six people in your family share iTunes, books and app purchases.
The biggest reason to opt for an iOS device is its selection of apps. Apple’s App Store tends to get the hottest apps and games before Android, partly because developers have an easier time targeting a smaller set of devices that have similar specs.
By the same token, iPhones enjoy the broadest array of accessories because there’s less variation in design from one model to the next.
Apple OS users are a dedicated lot. If you love using an iPhone, chances are you’ll love it for life.
Windows Phone has never caught on, but the upcoming Windows 10 could change that. Developers should be able to easily port Android and iOS apps to the platform.
Windows Phone offers some compelling features on its own, such as a dynamic Start screen and the Cortana digital assistant, but they haven’t been enough to sway shoppers.
Unless you’re already a fan, don’t touch this. The company formerly known as RIM has struggled to win over shoppers with BlackBerry 10.
On the plus side, there’s a Hub that aggregates everything from email to social updates in one place. It’s also fairly easy to multitask on these phones, and you can get a physical keyboard from the BlackBerry Classic.
However, the UI is not intuitive, and the app selection is pretty skimpy.
Although bigger screens are en vogue, you’ll still find a wide variety of display sizes. And size is only part of the story.
Small Screen (Less Than 4.5 Inches)
The main reason to buy a small-screen smartphone is for its compact design. You won’t have to stretch your thumb to reach anything.
But this size range is falling out of favor as more and more people gravitate toward larger canvases for media consumption and gaming.
Medium Screen (4.5 to 5.4 Inches)
This has become the smartphone sweet spot, with such devices as the iPhone 6 (4.7 inches), HTC One M9 (5 inches) and Galaxy S6 (5.1 inches).
Most phones are fairly comfortable to use with one hand in this category, depending on the button placement.
Large Screen/Phablet (5.5 Inches or More)
Smartphones with displays larger than 5.5 inches, such as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus and LG G4, and the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4, are often called phablets because they are tablet-like in size.
These are more likely to be used as two-handed devices, but there are lots of people who prefer larger displays for watching videos, reading eBooks and even running two apps side by side, as you can on the Galaxy line.
What is your preferred smartphone size?
Size and Weight
The weight of a smartphone is mostly dictated by its screen size.
The 4.6-ounce iPhone 6, for example, has a 4.7-inch display and is one of the thinnest and lightest handsets on the market.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are big-screen phablets such as the Nexus 6, which has a 6-inch display and weighs 6.5 ounces.
Once you get above 6 ounces, you’ll really notice the weight of a phone in your pocket.
If portability is paramount, shoot for a handset that’s less than 5 ounces.
Read more — How to Buy the Right Smartphone for Your Needs
Do you have a preferred brand of smartphone? One that you’ve had for years, just updated to the latest version when it comes out? Or are you more of a sampler — trying many different phones, but still looking for the right one?