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SMART PHONE BUYERS GUIDE 8 Questions Designed to Match you up with the Perfect Smartphone for your Needs and Budget. Presented by the minds @Laptop Magazine

Smart Phone Buyers Guide

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Buying a smartphone gets tougher all the time. And guess what? That’s a good thing, because there’s never been a richer selection of devices on the market. With multiple operating systems, a wide range of screen sizes and designs and different carriers vying for your attention with high-speed 4G networks, there’s never been a better time to upgrade your smartphone—or get your first one.

Text of Smart Phone Buyers Guide

  • 8 Questions Designed to Match you up with the Perfect Smartphone for your Needs and Budget. Presented by the minds @Laptop Magazine
  • IntroductionTheres never been a richer selectionof Smartphone devices on themarket. Complete with multipleoperating systems, a wide range ofscreen sizes and designs anddifferent carriers vying for yourattention with high-speed 4Gnetworks, theres never been abetter time to upgrade yoursmartphone or become a first timeuser.Get the latest Smartphone [email protected] Magazine.
  • Your OptionsAndroid iOSGoogles open-source OS is the worlds most popular, thanks Apples unparalleled ease of use, unique integration ofto its presence on a great variety of devices on multiple hardware and software and vast number of apps andcarriers and a selection of hundreds of thousands of apps accessories make this platform tough to beat.(many of them free). Because Google doesnt issue strict Pros:standards for who can use its OS, handset-makers are free tobuild cutting-edge devices with the latest features. Easy-to-use interfacePros: Most apps and highest-quality apps First to get new features like 4G LTE, HD screens, high- Siri voice companionspeed cameras iTunes makes it easy to buy apps, movies, music, books and Customizable home screens, cool widgets more under one umbrella True multitasking, easy task-switching Cons: Integrates with social networks for contacts, sharing No 4G yetcontent Social networking services not as tightly integrated as on Ability to get apps from many different app stores, sideload Android, Windows Phoneapps Limited multitasking ability Multiple Google apps tie into OS No support for haptic feedback, physical keyboardsCons:Android most vulnerable to malware Get the latest Smartphone insight @Laptop Magazine.Occasional crashes or slowness on some phonesGoogle Play store not as robust as iTunes for buying mediaOS updates arent timely or guaranteed
  • Round 2Windows Phone BlackBerry OSA slick interface with an emphasis on glanceable information at a Given how far behind the curve RIM ispun intendedits hard toglance and deep integration with Office, Xbox and other Microsoft recommend a BlackBerry device right now. That said, if you wantservices make this OS a tempting choice, especially for first-time really long battery life and very-secure email or, if you cant livesmartphone owners. without a physical keyboard, BlackBerry may be worth a look.Pros: Pros: Live Tiles on the home screen let you access info fast Great security management Can pin almost anything to Start screen Good physical keyboards Groups feature saves time Long battery life Microsoft Office, Xbox Live, and Zune marketplace integration Cons: Can launch camera even when phone is asleep Weak, outdated hardware with low-res screens, slow CPUs and no LTE supportCons: Few major appsLimited app selection All Internet service and email goes through RIMs servers, whichPhones way behind in the specs race have experienced major outages in the recent past. If they goOS not optimized for landscape mode down, you go down.Cant use your phone as a hotspotGet the latest Smartphone insight @Laptop Magazine.
  • AT&TIn the past year, AT&T has made greatstrides, releasing its own 4G LTE network inmore than 31 cities with additional marketson the way.Unfortunately, the faster speeds havent yetaffected public perception, as ConsumerReports readers rated AT&T the worst of allfour networks in a recent surveyAT&Ts voice plans start at $39.99 for 450minutes while data plans start at $30 for 3GB.Unlimited texting costs $20 per month.Pros:Fast 4G LTE phonesBest supportCons:Limited LTE coverage compared to VerizonConfused on which carrier to go with? Tryvisiting @Laptop Magazine for the latestadvice.
  • SprintSprint is the only carrier that offers an unlimiteddata plan, providing all-you-can mobile broadbandfor all its phones, even the iPhone 4S.Consumer Reports readers were very happy with thecarrier, as it tied with Verizon for the highestcustomer satisfaction rating in January 2012.Sprints biggest problem is that it lags behind AT&Tand Verizon in LTE, though the carrier will launch itsfirst six markets this summer.Sprint plans start at $79.99 a month ($69.99 + $10premium data fee) for 450 minutes with unlimiteddata and texting.Pros:Unlimited data planCons: LTE not launching until summer 2012Confused on which carrier to go with? Try [email protected] Magazine for the latest advice.
  • T-MobileT-Mobile usually has some of the lowest prices around,with a $79.99 plan that offers unlimited minutes,unlimited text and 2GB of data.The company also earned a solid B on our carriersupport showdown and got high marks in ConsumerReports customer satisfaction survey. T-Mobile wontget its 4G LTE network off the ground until 2013, butmany of its 4G HSPA+ phones achieve good downloadspeeds. T-Mobile is also the only carrier that does not sell theiPhone.Pros:Relatively inexpensive plansGood customer serviceCons:Only major carrier without iPhoneNo LTE yetData throttled to low speeds after you exceed your limitGet the latest Smartphone insight @Laptop Magazine.
  • VerizonVerizon sets the gold standard for U.S. carriers withthe largest 4G LTE network. The carrier also hassome of the industrys leading handsets with theSamsung Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4S and MotorolaDroid Line in tow. The company tied with Sprint asthe leading carrier in Consumer Reports 2012customer satisfaction survey.Verizons voice plans start at $39.99 for 450 minuteswhile data plans start at $30 for 2GB. Unlimitedtexting costs $20 per month.Pros:Largest 4G LTE networkGreat phone selectionCons:More expensive than Sprint and T-MobileHas experienced multiple 4G outages
  • The big trend in smartphones right now is larger and larger screens, and there certainly are benefits to thinking big. Surfing the Web, watching movies and playing games feels more immersive, especially if the display is high definition, and typing can be easier. Devices like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC One X cram big 4.7-inch LCDs into an impressively thin chassis, but they are a bit difficult to operate with one hand. The Galaxy Note really pushes the envelope with a tablet-like 5.3-inch screen, which is gorgeous but looks a bit silly held up to your head.See which Smartphone is leading the pack today by visiting the experts @Laptop Magazine.
  • What to look atScreen Processor Dont even consider a phone with a resolution less than 800 Just like PCs, smartphones have processors under the hood x 480, and give strong preference to phones with HD (1280 that determine how quickly they can do things like open x 720) screens. The iPhone has what Apple calls a Retina applications, render Web pages and multitask. These display because it packs 960 x 640 pixels into just 3.5 inches days, any respectable Android smartphone has a dual-core for a very high pixel density of 329 PPI. processor, with quad-core devices starting to arrive as well. Dont settle for an Android phone with a single-core As for screen types, Super AMOLED panels, such as those processor, particularly if its under 1-GHz in clock speed. found on Samsungs phones, offer great contrast and deep Chips like Nvidias Tegra 3 and dual-core Qualcomm blacks along with wide viewing angles but can be difficult to Snapdragon S4 represent the current state of the art. read outdoors. The latest LCDs, such as the Super LCD 2 screen on the HTC One X, offer great color saturation and a The new iPhone has a fast, A4 dual-core chip and souped- brighter picture. up graphics for playing console-quality games. Windows Phones are still stuck on single core. The operating system still functions pretty smoothly with these chips, but we do notice a slight lag when processing data from the Web. Memory If you want the most performance possible, a minimum of 512MB of system RAM is good with 1GB being the standard for high-end Android devices. When it comes to storage, many Android phones come with a microSD card that can be upgraded up to 32GB, but others include only sealed-in memory. The iPhone is available in 16, 32 and 64GB sizes while Windows Phones tend to have built-in storage of various sizes. See the latest Smartphone findings @Laptop Magazine
  • Picture This8-megapixel cameras are standard on higher-endsmartphones, but youll also find some models with 5-MPsensors in the value range and as high as 16-MP on the highend. But while the number of megapixels matter, so do otherfeatures, such as the quality of the lens, how quickly yourcamera starts and captures photos and how well it handleslow light. If you can, play with the smartphone in the store tosee if its good enough to stand in for your dedicated digicam.Or check out our smartphone reviews.If you care about video quality, opt for a smartphone that canshoot 720p HD footage. Youll find 1080p shooters on themost premium handsets.Right now, the best camera phones out there are theiPhone4S, Samsung Galaxy S II and HTC One series.Learn more about the latest picture & video [email protected] Magazine.
  • How fast you connect to the Web can make a huge difference in how much you get out of your Smartphone. Unless you have your heart set on a particular phone like the iPhone or BlackBerry Bold that only supports only 3G, go for a 4G handset and remember that not all 4G networks are created equal. Only networks based on the LTE protocol provide speeds that are fast enough to outrun your home Internet connection. Were talking about download speeds between 5 and 12 Mbps, and upload speeds between 2 and 5 Mbps. At present, both Verizon and AT&T have LTE networks, but Verizons coverage is much broader. Verizon offers LTE in more than 230 markets, covering two thirds of the U.S. population. AT&T is in 32 markets, with plans to double that by the end of 2012. Sprint is moving to 4G LTE in mid-2012, starting with six markets. T-Mobile will join the LTE party in 2013. T-Mobiles 42 Mbps HSPA+ network delivers fairly good download speeds but mediocre upload speeds, and Sprints aging WiMax network has the same weakness, along with difficulty reaching far inside buildings.
  • Do you have the power?Having a fast processor, ultra-powerful camera andblazing 4G LTE speeds doesnt mean a whole lot ifyour battery runs dry by lunchtime. Thats why itscritical that you choose a smartphone that can go Processorthe distance. Having a large-capacity batteryhelps, such as the one inside the Motorola DroidRazr Maxx. Its rated for 3,300 mAh, compared with1,700 to 2,000 for most other phones.But the operating system and software inside yourphone also plays a big role. Windows Phones, forinstance, tend to last all day on a charge becausetheyre pretty efficient when it comes to pinging the Software Battery Batterynetwork for data, whereas some Android phones Sizelast 5 hours or less on a charge. PowerWe test Smartphone endurance using the LAPTOPBattery Test, which involves continuous web surfingover a 3G or 4G connection. In general, 4G LTEphones run out of juice faster than 3G phonesbecause the radio uses more power, but there aresettings you can tweak to squeeze out extraruntime. Operating System
  • Expectations$50 to $100 $100 to $200 What used to be a wasteland of low-rent Expect a step up in processing speed, camera Android phones is now populated by handsets quality and display resolution as you move to with 4G LTE speeds and sharper designs. You this price range. The iPhone 4S is the wont find high-def screens in this price range quintessential $199 phone, with an advanced and design quality isnt top notch (expect 8-MP camera, 1080p video capture and the plastic, not metal), but overall you can get a voice-powered Siri personal assistant. Design very good deal if you spend just 50 bucks. also improves as you get above $100, with Were talking dual-core phones with 5-MP sturdier unibody designs. cameras. More than $200 There are very few phones available in this price range, but the ones that do certainly make a statement. Youll get the most cutting-edge specsthink big HD screens, 4G LTE speed, superslim designsalong with cutting-edge features. The Galaxy Note, for example, lets you write on its monster-size 5.3-inch display. And the Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx has a super-large battery along with a Kevlar-infused design for extra durability. Tip: Keep in mind that todays pricey superphone could be next months $49 or $99 special, so it could pay off to wait a couple of months for that handset to drop in price. Considering that youll be tied to the same phone for at least 20 months, you shouldnt compromise on quality.
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