The smartphone market is fairly well saturated these days, which for consumers is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to picking your device; on the other, it really can be difficult to tell which handset is best for you.
After all, it's easy to be swayed by the most popular device currently on the market – not least because that makes your decision easier. But it's well worth taking a step back before you buy and considering which model would actually suit you best. Phones are a sizeable investment, especially if you're interested in the top end of the spectrum, so it pays to make sure what you buy will be a good fit.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
There are three big players in terms of operating systems (the software that runs your phone) – iOS, Android and Windows. If you're looking for the biggest range of apps, and certainly the latest releases, iOS is usually a safe choice. It's also very intuitive to use, and so easy to pick up even if you've never owned an iPhone before.
Going with Android, meanwhile, will net you a similarly good range of apps, as well as a wider choice of phones and therefore the ability not only pick a handset based on features but also on budget. Less popular than iOS and Android but still competitive is Windows, which is a good choice if you have a Windows laptop or computer and you're keen to have a seamless transition from working on these to your phone, and vice versa.
Size and weight
Large screens and phones are the current trend, but they might not necessarily be the best choice for you. For instance, if you're keen to have a light, easily portable phone that you can operate with one hand, a small screen (less than 4.5-inches) is ideal. Aim for a weight of less than six ounces unless you're happy to really notice your phone in your pocket.
A medium screen up to 5.4-inches can often still be comfortably used with one hand, but it pays to try out different models in store to check how it suits you personally. The key advantage with larger phones or phablets (above 5.5-inches) is they tend to offer a better experience for reading, watching videos and gaming.
When it comes to the quality of display, size isn't the only thing to consider. Make sure you check the phone's screen resolution, brightness and colour quality before making your decision. Typically, quad-HD resolution will provide the clearest display, while screens with 1,280×720 pixels will typically begin to lose picture detail.
There's more to choosing a good phone camera than looking at the megapixels – though that's certainly a reasonable place to start. You also want to consider things like speed, aperture and overall image quality, as well as what additional features are on offer.
A useful tip is to go for a camera that includes optical image stabilisation, as this reduces blur and also shoots better in low light. Similarly, a larger aperture will make for better indoor and low-light shots.
Other useful things to consider are internal storage, battery life, and the aesthetics of the design.