Choosing a... Smartphone
A smartphone’s operating system (OS) dictates its basic features and which third-party software you can install. There are three main contenders: Apple’s iOS, which is found on the iPhone, Google’s Android, which is used by various handset manufacturers, and Windows Phone, which has few options. Apple iOS and Google Android have the most apps available but Windows Phone is slowly catching up.
All smartphones have colour screens, but their resolutions vary. Basic models have 800x480 pixels, but text can be indistinct. Look for a display that has at least 1,280x720 pixels so it’s easy to browse web pages. Don’t worry too much about built-in media players or Office document editors; you can always install apps to replace these with better versions later.
The image quality of smartphone cameras has improved tremendously in recent years, and resolutions have increased to as high as 20 megapixels.
Very few modern smartphones have a physical keyboard for entering text; they almost exclusively use touchscreens now. Physical keyboards can aid heavy emailing, but today’s touchscreen keyboards work just as well.
Android smartphones and iPhones running iOS 9 or 10 allow you to install a variety of custom onscreen keyboards so you can find one that suits you.
Be careful when choosing a contract. Look for one that includes a large data allowance if you want to use the internet regularly or you’ve set your phone to synchronise your contacts, calendar and email through online services.
Built-in Wi-Fi can help you avoid high data charges by connecting to the internet through wireless hotspots when you’re out, or your router when you’re at home. Android and iPhone handsets can operate as wireless hotspots, letting you connect your laptop to the web over your mobile data connection. There may be an extra charge for this.