A simples guide

A guide to selecting the right handset

Poor old mobile phones – so easily replaced by a newer, fancier and more attractive model – consigned to ‘the drawer’ of forgotten, miscellaneous tech gadgets that have had the misfortune of being improved upon. But even the most sentimental of us can’t resist the excitement of opening the box of a new phone – just think of all those new features, it’ll change your life forever. But get it wrong and you could find yourself rummaging around ‘the drawer’ desperately trying to revive old faithful. So to avoid disappointment, here’s our guide to choosing the right phone.


What sort of mobile phones are available?

It can be hard to compare mobile phones, every new model comes with a baffling number of features and it’s all too easy to get swayed by slick marketing and fancy buzz words. But take a step back and think about what you actually use your phone for – and that should be the deciding factor on what handset to buy. Phones largely fall into three main categories:

Basic – like the entry level range in a supermarket, fancy they ain’t, but they do the job. If you just use your phone to talk, text, perhaps use the calculator to divide the bill in a restaurant or use it as an alarm clock, then why spend any more than you need to?

• Smartphone – everyone loves a smartphone, they’re stylish and make our lives easier. Owning one of these is pretty much like having a mini computer in your pocket. You can plan your life using it, pay for stuff with it, take photos and store them on it, even watch videos and stream music. Sounds great but they do come with fairly hefty price tags – the latest smartphones retail for in excess of £500.

• Business phones – if you need a phone that specifically lets you work whilst on the go then there are phones out there that come with an Office 365 package – you just need to hunt them down.

Once you’ve decided what type of phone you need, you can then compare handsets according to more specific features – areas you might want to consider include:

Camera – who doesn’t love a selfie (if only just to catch the photobombers), contrary to popular belief, more megapixels doesn’t automatically mean better photos. You’ll need to think about the overall result – some phones will have the equivalent of a ‘steady shot’ feature which should mean clearer, less shaky pictures. Also watch out for lens quality – more sensitivity means improved illumination which results in better photos in low lighting.

• Screen size – what will you be looking at? If you’re watching videos or use your phone to read large documents then you should probably choose something with a big screen – unless of course you want to keep scrolling down for the rest of your life.

• Touch sensitive – something else to bear in mind when choosing your phone is the type of touchscreen it has – there are two types ‘capacitive’ and ‘resistive’. Capacitive touchscreens are the likes of your smartphone where you can use your finger to swipe and tap to get to what you want. Resistive touchscreens rely on more force and usually need a stylus to operate them. Of course – you may opt for a screen that isn’t touch sensitive at all.

Processor – this is the difference between Usain Bolt and your dad running the 100 metres – the processor dictates the speed at which your phone opens and runs applications.

Battery – never underestimate the importance of the humble battery, there’s nothing worse than your phone dying when you’re waiting for a call from your best friend to meet them for that long-awaited lunch.

Which operating system is the best?

It depends on what you’re after and what you’re used to. The operating system (OS) is what makes your phone work and what your phone uses will influence what apps you can have, how the menus look and how easy it is to use. There are three operating systems – iOS (Apple), Android and Windows.

If you already have Apple products such as a Mac, iPod or iPad, then it makes sense to have an iPhone too which uses iOS. It’ll be easier to synchronise and you might find it more intuitive to use. One of the drawbacks of such a marketed and desirable product, is that it can be expensive.

The Android OS is made by Google and is used in phones by (for example) Samsung and LG. Android systems can be adapted more easily and may differ slightly according to which manufacturer built it. This means there’s more variation and you can find a handset that you can customise more easily.

Windows isn’t the most popular OS but it’s carved a niche for itself at the more affordable end of the market. It’s fully compatible with fellow Windows laptops and computers if that’s a feature that you’d find useful. There aren’t so many apps available on a Windows operated phone but you’ll have access to the more popular ones such as Facebook and the BBC.


mobile smart phone
smart phone taking a photo

What is 4G?

Never mind the next generation, this is the fourth generation or ‘fourth generation wireless telephone technology’ but that’s not as catchy as ‘4G’.

Not all phones are 4G compatible at the moment, but 4G promises internet and download speeds up to seven times faster than 3G. It should be comparable to speeds you’d get with your broadband at home – so an album that takes 20 minutes to download on 3G should take about 3 minutes with 4G. To use 4G you’ll need a compatible phone and be somewhere with a 4G signal.

Most current smartphones use 3G technology which gives you faster internet access, download speeds and allows for video calls as well as the usual voice calls and texts. The precursor to 3G and 4G is the humble 2G – you can make and receive calls and texts with this but internet connections are s-l-o-w. Most 3G phones will automatically switch to a 2G signal if they can’t find a 3G one (that’s one reason why smartphones are so smart).

What’s next?

Now that you’re all powered up with knowledge about what to look out for in a handset, why not use our mobile phone comparison service and see what’s out there? We’ve got a vast range of handsets, tariffs and providers on offer so see if you can improve on what you’ve got. Go on – there’s still room in ‘the drawer’ for one more.