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What do you look for when you buy a smartphone?

On this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss the things that we look for when we get new devices. Some of us are hardware junkies, others have a taste for fine design, while for others the price comes above everything else. But what's that supremely important quality?
September 27, 2013
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Evan Forester

On this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss the things that we look for when we buy a new phone. Some of us are hardware junkies, others have a taste for fine design, while for others the price comes above everything else. Is there such a thing as a perfect device? Probably not, and that’s why we usually have to choose one quality or one feature over the others. But what’s that supremely important quality?

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

Robert Triggs

I suppose I’m a little bit of an odd ball in a way, in so far as what interests me in smartphones doesn’t actually translate into what I end up buying.

For example, I’m usually much more interested in hardware tech and reading up what’s going on with highest end devices, but I can never justify spending £300-£400 on something that I primarily use for sending text messages, listening to music, and flicking through news articles.

That’s not to say that budget is the only thing on my mind, but there’s definitely a balance to be struck between hardware, functionality and software, and the cost. I don’t tend to find myself suckered in by promises of the most megapixels, the highest screen resolution, or the largest display size. Instead, regular updates is something that has become more important to me recently, so decent manufacturer support or easy modding is something that I’ll be looking for in my future purchases.

For a tech enthusiast I’m still old school when it comes to my purchasing habits, it’s all about practicality, longevity, and price. Perhaps (hopefully) the Nexus 5 will be the next handset to find that sweet spot.

Adam Koueider

For my next smartphone purchase I’m lining up the Nexus 5 or the Sony Xperia Z1. My current smartphone the Nexus 4 has three major problems with it right now. The glass back due to it being prone to scratches and cracking, the camera which is down right sub par and the battery life (which you could say for almost every smartphone).

As far as design goes, I much prefer the all-black slate design similar to the Nexus 4. A little design flourish is okay as long as the OEM keeps it free from too many labels. My software choices lean towards the stock design, but anything that doesn’t look too horrible (LG’s Optimus UI) or is prone to lag (Samsung’s TouchWiz) is fine by me so my next choices would be Sony’s Xperia UI, Oppo’s new ColorOS or Sense 5.

Battery and camera are big on my agenda and that’s why I’m contemplating purchasing the Xperia Z1 even though the back is still glass. With that 3000mAh battery and the 20.7MP camera it’s certain to get two ticks in that department and my only concerns with the Xperia Z1 are its size. A 5-inch display is as big as I’ll go, but with those massive bezels surrounding it, things could get out of hand (pardon the pun). The display has also not proven to be the best on the market, but as long as it’s legible in the sunlight, I’ll give it a pass there.

The next Nexus smartphone looks to be my choice unless Google skimps out on battery. Rumors are claiming that the Nexus 5 will not contain the 3000mAh battery and instead feature a 2300mAh battery and if so, I’ll most likely be purchasing the Xperia Z1 or skipping out on this round altogether (although that’s unlikely considering my trigger happy finger and the one-click purchases swirling around these days).

In the end it’ll come down to the battery capacity of the Nexus 5, because if it retains the large battery of the LG G2 or Google weaves some magic around Android 4.4 Kit Kat to make battery life better that’ll definitely be my choice, because the camera will be much improved and based on the FCC pass by, it’ll be smaller than the Nexus 4 which means greater pocketability. As far as features go, as long as the phone can do all of the regular smartphone stuff well (email, internet, photo taking, calls, text) that will do me.

Final words. Google, show me the mo…erm… I mean NEXUS!!!

Andrew Grush

What do I look for in buying a phone? That’s a good question, as it seems to vary so much.

Many years ago, I picked up a Samsung Continuum because I liked the idea of having a tiny display for important notifications (turns out the phone wasn’t very good though…) The phone’s small size and limiting specs didn’t matter much at the time, as I generally used a larger tablet for all my apps and browsing.

My latest smartphone purchase was a Nexus 4, which I bought earlier this year. I was drawn to the handset because I wanted quick software updates, a budget-friendly price tag and a way to escape contracts.

For my next smartphone purchase? Right now, I find myself waiting to see what the Nexus 5 will bring. I’m also very interested in Oppo. While the Oppo N1 seems too big to be pocketed comfortably, I’m still very impressed by the company in general.

Summing up my purchasing habits, I don’t let just one factor – like brand or specs – decide what I’ll buy. It’s about weighing all your options, and finding a handset that makes the most sense for you at the time.

What do YOU think?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

[poll id=”370″]