Should I… buy a smartphone?
Andrew | On 12, May 2012
In the first of our “Should I” series we explore whether buying a smartphone is the right decision.
Smartphones have truly revolutionised the way we interact with our mobile devices. Almost half of the UK mobile owning population have already jumped onto the smartphone steam train with the others sticking to their non-smart siblings. The popularity and massive media attention behind these devices cause a lot of my family friends to think whether they too should take the jump. Here are the key ‘headline’ factors I tell them to consider.
What they do
Smartphones are entertainment hubs that allow us to use the internet and keep our social networks updated on the move. There are a massive number of paid, and free, applications you can download including games and productivity apps. They are more or less the nearest thing you can get to a small powerful computer that can fit into your pocket. They are not really designed for those who only ever talk and text. If you want to do everything in the move then go for it.
- SIM-FREE top end devices cost between £450 and £550
- You will need to add mobile data on to your mobile contract – forget paying under £20/£25 per month (£35 – £45 for high-end) on contracts where smartphones are included for free. You’re also likely to be tied to a 24-month contract.
- You can end up getting high roaming bills if you forget to switch of data when abroad
- Smartphone often cost more to fix that non-smartphones
Bigger with no physical buttons
Smartphones are much bigger and they use soft keys. If it’s raining you are not going to be able to control the device by touching the screen (although you can use voice commands) whilst walking. You also cannot use the phone whilst wearing gloves unless you buy some specially designed ones which you can buy from Mobile Fun. The keyboards are QWERTY by default and can take sometime getting used to. However with Samsung’s Swype keyboard you could end up texting a lot quicker than you would using your old physical keypad.
You’ll need a semi-decent one
Budget smartphones often offer a frustrating experience. Navigation may not be smooth and you will probably experience a good bit of ‘lag’. Whereas budget non-smartphones are a bit more forgiving, you may not notice much difference between budget and high-end, you will notice with a smartphone. In short – you really do need to aim to buy a mid to high range device if you want a good user experience. This may change now that hardware has pretty much caught up with software (see related article) but for the time being this rule applies. If you are wanting a really solid device but are not fussed about having the latest, and most up-to-date tech, aim for a previous generation device (i.e buy the Galaxy S II rather than the Galaxy S III). They’ll still set you back a fair penny but you will be able to get virtually current tech at a smaller price as retailers often reduce prices of models once their successor has been launched.
Have we left anything off? What advice would you give? Smartphone or non-smartphone? Leave your comments below!