Cell Phone Buyer’s Guide: 2013
If you’re still one of the last holdouts of the flip-phone generation, now may be the time to finally take the dive and upgrade. However, with an ever-increasing array of devices, the decision is most certainly not an easy one. After the launch of the initial iPhone, competitors have been working to consistently close the gap. Over the past two years, competitors have made significant gains. For the purpose of this post, I will be focusing on the flagship devices of each major operating system (Apple iOS, Android, and Windows).
Android devices have become something of an interesting monster. While Android now represents the largest share of the smartphone market, this is due in large part to the fact that its operating system runs on so many devices. Manufacturers such as Samsung, Google, HTC, and LG all have phones in the Android stable.
Android devices are well-received because of the Google Play store and their ability to run several applications at one time. However, both of these features have significant downsides. While the Google Play store allows new applications more easily than Apple’s App Store, the freedom that this gives to app developers also poses risks for consumers. With less restrictions on applications, the potential for viruses and other security risks increase. Much of this risk can be avoided by using common sense when making app purchases.
My Android experience was marred heavily by poor battery life. This is due in large part to Androids’ ability to run several things at once. While it may be nice to have up-to-the-minute weather alerts, Twitter/Facebook notifications, and stock prices on a single screen, it certainly takes a toll on the phone’s battery life. Apps such as Advanced App Killer allow you to quickly shut down many applications at once, but it is easy to forget to do and an overall pain. That being said, there are some diehard Android lovers out there, and with good reason. Many of these phones are top-notch, and manufacturers are finding better ways to increase battery life. The most popular Android phones include:
Samsung Galaxy S III
The Galaxy S III has been undoubtedly the crown jewel in the Android line. It comes in several colors to suit your style and is loaded with plenty of features. The most noticeable of these features is the 4.8” 720px screen. The Galaxy also includes “S-voice” which is essentially a rip off of Apple’s Siri. Neither is great, but S-Voice is worse. It is buggy, slow, and unreliable. Also, like Siri, its full capabilities are limited by software restrictions, so we may begin to see its usefulness grow.
Google Nexus 4
Google’s Nexus 4 offers several appealing features, such as the ability to purchase an unlocked, contract free device for a reasonable $300. The screen is crisp and clean. The Nexus 4 will also be able to run the newest version of Android’s operating system (a problem that plagues other devices). However, the Nexus 4 is already a dinosaur when you consider its lack of 4g connectivity. This may not be a huge deal if you live in an area where 4g is still unavailable. However, if you are a heavy data user, there is no doubt that this is a huge oversight.
HTC’s new flagship phone has the look and feel of an iPhone killer. Quite simply, it is a beautiful machine. It is slated for a release date in March, so there is not a ton of information available. Here is what we know so far:
- 4.7-inch Full HD Display with 468 PPI
- 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor
- 32GB/64GB models (No microSD Card Slot
- 4 Ultrapixel Rear Facing Camera / Wide angle 2MP front facing camera
- 2300 mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
- 2GB RAM
- Bluetooth 4.0
The consumer electronics world was brought to its knees when the iPhone was introduced in 2007. It is a safe bet to say that the iPhone changed the way we do just about everything online. It has been the standard bearer since its inception, and not much has changed since.
There is not much to say about the iPhone that hasn’t already been said. The screen is sharp and bright, thanks in large part to Apple’s “Retina” technology. Siri is an overblown feature, but the potential is there. The App Store is simply the best and battery life is above average. The iPhone will not run multiple applications at once, which can be annoying, but I’ve found that I never really feel the desire to do much multi-tasking on my 4” screen. Notice, the screen is smaller than both the Galaxy S III and the Nexus 4, so this may be an issue for some. Quite simply, it just works. This can be due in large part to the fact that it is an Apple product, uses Apple hardware, and runs and Apple operating system. It has a natural advantage over Android devices for this reason. If you own Apple products, it works seamlessly with them. While the iPhone isn’t the runaway best device like it once was, its competitors are still playing catch up.
Windows finally got into the phone market. This is due in large part because of its new operating system Windows 8. Microsoft has made a conscious effort to streamline all of its devices. In an Apple-like manner, the experience on a Windows 8 PC, a Windows tablet, and a Windows 8 phone have all been made to be similar. Hopefully, this will create a seamless experience on all devices. This can already be seen with Office 365.
Windows Phone 8x
The Windows Phone 8x will offer users many of the same features as Android devices and the iPhone. It also has 4g capability at an attractive price point of $99. You will have access to all Office features, which will be nice for quick edits, but more than likely impractical for composing anything of length. Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store is still relatively small in size (175,000 apps to Apple’s 700,000) but it is growing rapidly. Windows Phone 8x “tile” design is sleek and easy to navigate. The biggest issue with the Widows Phone is that is still by and large an unproven commodity. We just aren’t sure about its staying power, but it does look like it’s here to stay.