It seems that every day, new mobile phones are appearing on the market. With technology shifting constantly---and manufacturers racing to build the best new thing---our options are nearly endless.

The devices that appear are exciting and cutting edge. But while these shiny new gadgets are oh-so-appealing, the vast majority of us don’t necessarily need to rush to upgrade. In fact, sometimes those impressive flagship devices aren’t really right for us at all.

It’s important to know how to determine what mobile phone will best fit your lifestyle and your needs, and that’s what this article is here to help you do.

You may not need the most high-end smartphone camera, or the device that has lightning fast processing power. Perhaps you don’t want the latest models that have quirky new security features (this one uses your eyes to unlock it!) and lack familiar elements (where did my headphone jack go?) And maybe you do need those things after all, or maybe you just can’t live without the latest tech.

But when it’s time to upgrade, you’ll have to make some decisions. Instead of being pressured into going home with the latest phone to hit the shelves, why not enter the shop (or open up the online store’s website) with the confidence and assurance that you know just what you’re looking for? After all, in these modern times, our mobile phones are used by us (or at least with us) almost nonstop. Don’t you want to be sure your phone is one you’re truly happy with? Read on.

Do You Really Need a Smartphone?

Smartphones are ubiquitous these days, so it’s easy to assume that that’s what every individual needs and wants. Yet, not everyone requires a smartphone. There’s a lot to be said for the simplicity of a so-called “dumb phone.” These devices don’t have all the bells and whistles of flagship smartphones, but they could be just what you need if you only require a mobile phone for making voice calls or sending brief texts. If you’re not big on apps or checking email on-the-go, you might not need your phone to have data capabilities.

Don’t plan to use the Internet on your phone? Do you often make voice calls but text only very rarely? Do you primarily access the Internet from a different device? You might be just fine with a basic mobile phone. In addition to simplicity, there are other benefits, including a low initial investment, low or zero data charges, and less worry when using your phone on-the-go. (No one wants to drop or damage their phone, but it’s a lot less scary when your phone is a cheap, old-fashioned model!)

One other important benefit is that these devices, since they don’t use data, usually have very long battery life, so you can count on them working for hours if not days.

If a “dumb phone” is what you’re after, your choice will be fairly simple. There are far fewer of these on the market today, so your options are more limited, and there are not many specs to compare. You’re ready to go shopping!

How Your Phone Should Fit Your Lifestyle

If you want a smartphone, you’re aligned with roughly 19 million other Australians who also own smartphones.

There is a lot more to consider when choosing a smartphone, as these range tremendously in quality, pricing, specs, and reputation. Then there are physical preferences to consider, like the size and shape of a device or even the colour. Where do you begin?

The place to start is an assessment of your lifestyle. You want to pick a device that matches with your current lifestyle, not the other way around. Sit down and spend a few minutes (or more) thinking about your daily life. Make a list of everything that seems applicable. Are you in school; working full time? Do you work in an office? Do you work in the bush? What is your role in your company? How often are you using a phone now in your day-to-day activities? What activities do you typically perform on a mobile phone? Do you travel often? Have a lengthy commute?

These kinds of elements will influence things like:

Your lifestyle, more than your desires, should guide you towards what you need in a phone. Individuals who use their phone for work may not need the highest screen resolution or the fastest processor, but they do need a phone that has a strong battery life, offers good audio for phone conversations, and allows for access to all important work-related apps and tools.

Depending on the work you do, one of these factors might have higher weight than the others. Working outdoors may necessitate a device with a long, reliable battery life, or a bright screen that can work in dim conditions. You might also look for phones with waterproof capabilities (and you’ll definitely want to invest in a quality phone case).

Your hobbies also play a role in your phone needs. Heavy mobile gamers will be looking for specs that prioritise these aspects: excellent graphics, vivid display, fast processors.

Those with an interest in photography, or who use photographs frequently in their work, may prefer to seek out a smartphone with the top-rated camera specs.

Start matching your lifestyle elements to what you really need from your phone. Is a good camera non-negotiable? Massive battery life? Write it down. This list of needs is very important.

Financially, your phone requirements may point you in one direction or another. But ultimately, the choice will depend upon what level of device you can afford. Still, it’s worth looking at what phone truly matches your lifestyle and needs---before assuming you need to have the very best phone on the market.

Create a Mobile Phone Wishlist

Truthfully, your wants are going to come into the picture, too. So spend some time making a list of those desires, too. Write them down directly under your list of needs.

What would you like to have in a mobile phone? Listing these elements in order of priorty. This can help you sort through the options when you start looking at phones. Ultimately, you may have to make sacrifices based on your budget, for instance, but having your preferences and needs listed right in front of you will allow you to find a compromise that you’re genuinely happy with.

Smartphone Features You Probably Don’t Need

Do you really need all that space or power? What about a massive screen?

Assessing what’s important to you in a device comes first in this process, because then you can more easily dismiss all the “extras.”

In this article, author Chris Burns makes an excellent point about 2019 phone trends that you don’t necessarily need. He writes, “In the year 2019, we’re going to see a lot of focus on the size, shape, and placement of the front-facing camera on any number of new phones. If you don’t care about this, you’re going to have a LOT of options for new devices at a wide range of price points. Better yet, if you’re not all about the whole “IT MUST COVER THE WHOLE PHONE” display trend, you’re going to find phones with bezels (tiny bezels, even) for a lot cheaper than ever before.”

Basically, if you don’t need the most advanced phone design, getting a phone at a good price might be in your favour.

A bezel-less display can look sleek, but it may not be a must-have on your phone list, especially if you’re looking at a lower price point. But you needn’t worry because even 2nd and 3rd tier phones are introducing bigger, wider displays.

There are other elements you (probably) don’t need from your phone. These features sound good on paper, but they’re often unnecessary. For instance, unusual unlock features. Phone companies have been competing in recent years to come up with the most secure and most efficient ways to unlock a device. Unfortunately, these are often problematic, and end up being less secure than planned. Still others are clunky and difficult to use. It seems that some of the most tried-and-true unlock methods are those that have stood the test of time. And truth be told, they are all you really need. A phone with a fingerprint scanner is great, but the old-fashioned pin code typically works just fine.

What about wireless charging? This is one feature you may or may not want. While it’s certainly not essential to have, many newer phones, and flagships in particular, come with the ability built in. And there are benefits to charging wirelessly, including ease of use, less wear and tear on your charging port, and more. There’s also a growth in wireless charging pads, so locating them around the world (for a quick power recharge) might be increasingly feasible.

At the same time, wireless charging is slower than traditional charging, particularly if your device supports fast charge. While your phone is lying on the pad, it may be more difficult to use, as you can’t easily hold it in your hand. The device must stay on top of the pad in order to continue charging.

Choices Choices Choices

Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for from your next mobile phone, it’s time to look at all the options...and there are many. How can you best compare phones? There are a few things to keep in mind as you sift through the myriad choices.

Brand recognition

Is this a brand you know and trust? Virtually all of us have heard of the big names like Samsung and Apple, but other, more modest-sized brands also offer excellent products. If you’re not sure about a particular brand, don’t hesitate to do a bit of research.

Reviews

Reading and watching reviews is also key, especially once you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of devices. We have reviews of some smartphone models right here on the Southern Phone website, but the Internet is chock full of thousands detailed, unbiased reviews so you can research as in-depth as you desire. YouTube is a great place to check out phone reviews, as reviewers and tech geeks will demonstrate all the specs of a given model plus discuss its pros and cons.

What’s worked for you before

It can be worth considering what phones you’ve used in the past. Try to recall what features you liked and what you didn’t. If a certain type of phone proved reliable for you in the past, it could be worth upgrading to the next generation version of your device.

Compatibility with other hardware

Finally, consider the hardware you hope to pair with your phone. Once you have your options narrowed down, you may want to look into various products to be sure that they are compatible. It would be very disheartening to pick out your dream phone only to find out it doesn’t go with a key accessory or piece of hardware you use.

What to Consider Next

Stuck? Sometimes picking the ideal mobile phone just comes down to preference. An operating system you’re familiar with, a phone that feels good in your hand. These are the kinds of things that can sway your opinion in one way or another, helping you to make your final choice. And often, it’s advisable to stay with what works. If you’ve always had iPhones for instance, you may want to find a compelling reason to switch to Android (and vice versa). These products largely stay the same, and once you’ve grown comfortable with using one, it can be much easier to upgrade or switch to another phone in that same family.

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