Droid phone guide

Now’s a good good time to buy an Android smartphone, if anything, we are most spoilt for choice in this genre, with hundreds of new models coming out every year.

Four years back, about $350 would have got you an Android phone with a 2.8-inch QVGA screen, running 1.6 Cupcake. Right now, for less than $200, you can get a smartphone running on a quad core processor, on Android Jelly Bean, on a 4-5 inch WVGA+ display. That’s a huge improvement, and it seems unlikely that the bar will be set higher – hexacore smartphones are not just unlikely, but unpractical. More RAM, higher density screens, cheaper phones are likely as ever.

There are plenty of cool things you can do on a smartphone – think of it as a pocket computer – there are so many killer apps – from tracking constellations and clouds, measuring your heart-rate, figuring out directions, so yes, you should be looking at buying a smartphone this year, if you haven’t got one yet. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

1) Android Jelly Bean+
Just don’t go for anything less than Android 4.1 because manufacturers are unlikely to offer any kind of OS updates to entry-level/low-end/emerging market/tier 2 products.

2) Avoid Phones With Bloatware
Even if you’re buying a Jelly Bean phone, bloatware is the most annoying aspect of cheap phones. Not all in-house software is useless, but those made by small-time manufacturers don’t really do much to add to the UI front – expect them to make your user-experience much worse.

Bloatware can become a pain in the ass when your phone has limited memory. Unless you have all day to go through XDA forums, deciphering poorly written how-to guides on rooting/jailbreaking your phone, and then there are the risks – running alternative firmware also increases chances of accidentally bricking it.  Bloatware apps don’t just hog memory space, they waste your bandwidth as well. It’s the tax you have to pay for getting that cheap phone. You just have to pay a little bit more for a Nexus 4 instead. As long as you’re able to live without these features..

3) Dual SIM, Removable Battery, Expandable Memory
Let’s talk about features you don’t get on many high-end phones these days – Mediatek chips are really bringing the pain at the mid-range and entry-level, with quadcore smartphones under 10,000. They offer more in terms of end-user flexibility, and are faster to market than larger players like Samsung, Sony and HTC.

4) The Bigger, The Better
Typing on tiny screens is no fun, and if you need more evidence that the ‘phablet’ has come of age, just wait till the end of the year. Bigger smartphones can afford to hold larger batteries – otherwise you’ll have to rely on –  external battery packs, which are becoming a common accessory to Android phones.

5) Get a Protective Case
It’s a handheld computer – loaded with an array of sensors and probably one of the most expensive things you own. You really don’t want to see the result of what happens when your fondleslab lands face-first on a granite pavement.

Pro Tip: When sheathing it with a screen protector, make sure there’s a slit for the proximity sensor, otherwise your phone will act retarded.

6) Get the best smartphone you can
Don’t cheap out on this, a good device could out-last three bad impulse purchases. Even if you’re going cheap, go for a blockbuster product that has sold a million units or more – if you care about spare parts and servicing a few years down the line.

As Casey Johnston from Arstechnica puts it, “give yourself a chance and get something that’s not already widely known to be a piece of garbage“. Samsung and LG have some decent entry-level phones, the Moto G has excellent ratings – these are a better bet than the Karbonns and Micromaxes. Choose your brand based on the proximity of a service centre, because smartphones tend to get damaged in the long run. It’s wise to have a smartphone that’s easily repaired and serviced.

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