As the gadgets examiner I would be remiss if I did not explain when and where you should purchase a new device, and of course, why you should purchase a new phone.
With the recent release of the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S3’s advertising campaign slamming holes in Apple’s new (and ultimately floundering, thanks to iOS 6) baby a lot of people are standing in lines and looking to upgrade their phones from “last years model”, however I have to point out a major flaw in this particular mindset (sorry “Trendy Hipsters” and the “Popular Clique” in high school, but ‘last years model’ isn’t a bad thing if it’s functional and works well).
If you take offense to the statement about “Popular Clique” and “Trendy Hipsters”, then you fall into these categories and might as well just ignore me, or like me in an ironic sense, I don’t really care, but what I do care about is educating the masses on when it’s a necessity to upgrade a device and when it’s not.
When I first started writing here at Examiner for the Toledo Gadgets section , I wrote a review of what was my new phone at the time. The Blackberry Curve 8530 and guess what everyone? I still have that phone. Unfortunately though the device has finally reached it’s end of life. I do, however, have to point out that I actually had that particular model from almost a year and half. Yes, a year and a half, and it is a model from 2009, it is now almost the end of 2012, in today’s market that’s a hell of a life for a phone, but unfortunately I now must replace my phone. I will here list the damages currently visible on the device.
The top of the curve has media buttons, the rubber of the buttons came off so now the metal and plastic push-switches are visible, note, these still work. The battery has done the “battery swelling” thing, forcing the back cover’s plastic snaps to break off, it is now held together by a rubber band, and lastly, I must point out, up until last night it actually would still charge and work, but battery life was next to nothing and software failure and crashes had become prominent (forcing me to re-seat the battery regularly).
This is my point to say, “Lane, it’s time to get a new phone.” I’m strange for a guy who loves tech, I use it, I abuse it, and I continue to use it until it is no longer functional. The same went for my old netbook before I bought my Chromebook, but this article is about replacing your smaller gadgets.
I must take this moment to point out that I have to select a device (and have even been contemplating switching carriers due to Verizon’s announcement of removing grandfathered unlimited data plans recently, I will most likely move to Sprint), I must say though I am leaning towards a Galaxy S3. However from experience in the technical world for years I am still able to help to narrow it down for everyone else.
Battery Life/Talk Time
Battery life and talk time may seem a little trivial in todays primary smart phone market, often being used for Facebook updates, Twitter updates, texting, videos, music players, and all this other media, but when it all boils down to it it’s base concept is that second word is, a phone, and while it may not be used as one as much as it use to, it is still suppose to be used as one, also take into consideration “Talk Time” can also be a “very very rough” estimate as to it’s general battery life for use, though (in my experience) you can take maybe 30 minutes to an hour off of that to get a rough estimate of the usage time if using data.
Processing Power (Smart Phones)
Take into consideration what you’re going to be using this device for, are you older or are you younger, do you use the phone to browse web videos, are you going to be checking e-mails, and so on and so forth? I know my grandfather doesn’t need all the “Hullaballoo!” so he can still get a basic “Candy Bar” or “Flip Phone”, however most places you must special order these now.
Are you going to be using this as a Walkman (remember those? or Discman?), for those of you in the younger generation a “Walkman”, and it’s successor the “Discman” were sony’s portable mediums for music. You could take a cassette tape, or a musical CD anywhere you wanted with you, but I wouldn’t go jogging with the discman, it could have skipped even with skip-protection. Back on topic now. Are you going to be using this to store music, movies, data, pictures, if so, how much, and will you need to scale it? Note, that iPhones can NOT scale their storage space, once you get a particular model you are stuck with that particular amount of storage space, same goes for certain other model phones.
This seems like it should be obvious and smartphone makers are getting better and better (hell my Blackberry lasted me almost 2 years and was an old model, I’ll also pointed out it was used and handed down to me). The reason I liked the now failed Blackberry? Because it lasted. It took beatings, and went all over the place, and I’ve destroyed phones, and of all the phones (both smart, and dumb) I have had, this one has survived me the best. So props to RIM (Research in Motion) for that. The only way to tell if manufacturing quality is up to your specifications is to hold the device in your hand. Even if you’re not buying walk into a mobile phone store and hold a phone in your hand, feel it, weigh it, mess around with it’s features, check it’s responsiveness. You don’t have to buy (even if they push you to). I can’t tell you who manufactures what better than who, I can tell you though, that display on the iPhone ironically is manufactured by Samsung, then the devices are assembled in China and Taiwan by Foxconn.
Now it seems everything I listed above seems like “features” but they’re really not, they are necessities in today’s phone market and all play a major factor on what device I would decide to buy. If you’re buying a smart phone for it to be a smart phone, use e-mails, check advanced medias, even possibly develop software or remote administration with the phone then you’re going to want an advanecd smartphone, that can do a whole lot. Do you want powerful media sharing? Do you want certain applications? If you do want certain applications, it’s a simple thing to look up, anything on the Android devices can be found in the Google Play store, and anything on the iPhone Apps store can be found on the iTunes Store, both can freely be browsed without owning any of those respective devices. What kind of interaction with OTHER devices do you want is another question? For example the Galaxy S3 does have that cool play list sharing feature, but do you need that? Most people don’t.
That’s right, when it all comes down to it, cost plays one of the biggest roles in deciding a replacement device, does this device provide you with the most of what you want or need at a price you consider reasonable? Many devices can be gained at a discount with trading, an upgrade, or even a new contract, but you might not want to buy into that. It’s up to you though, how much are you willing to spend to get the features and functions you want?
As I said, I have yet to purchase my new phone, and am still debating switching carriers, but all of these factors will play a role in my phone purchasing, but I also do software development on the side and do NOT own a Mac, therefor I am unable to develop software for Apple based devices, because of this, as a developer, I am most likely going with an Android based product, I just need to decide which one.
I hope people find this article useful and informative and it helps them in taking a step back to truly decide what product is right for them.