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HardwareZone's Smartphone Buying Guide Essentials
By Wong Casandra - 30 Jan 2012,11:00pm

Choosing the Right Smartphone

Matching Needs

Choosing the right smartphone is all about what best fits your needs. What is your primary activity on your device? Which OS, UI and telco plan will best suit your usage pattern? Typically speaking, we can classify users according to a few pre-determined examples. These will allow you to narrow down the scope and find a smartphone that's more within your needs, following which you'll need to consider your budget and how comfortable you are with the phone.

However, do note that how you use your phone is heavily dependent on what you use it for. No two users are alike, so what could work for you, might not work for another. In short, you should agree to disagree with how you use your device, and be aware of how you use it and optimize your usage pattern.



If you're looking for a device that's somewhat a jack of all trades - music, movies, gaming, decent battery life and camera -, you will need to find a well-balanced phone running on a stable OS. Some features to look out for are a highly portable smartphone with ample storage capacity, a 5 to 8-megapixel camera and a robust app ecosystem.

Apple iPhone 4S

The Apple iPhone 4S might not come with the biggest screen, the highest RAM or the most pixels squeezed into its screen, but it is noteworthy for its extensive ecosystem of apps (and functional accessories), its ease of use and capable 8-megapixel camera. These features make the Apple iPhone 4S one of the top choices for users looking for an all-rounder. Oh, don't forget that it also comes with Siri, an intelligent voice assistant.

Reasons for Apple iPhone 4S

  • Extensive apps list
  • Long battery life
  • Multiple options in terms of storage capacity (16GB / 32GB / 64GB)
  • Comes with 8-megapixel camera with f/2.4 aperture


Samsung Galaxy Nexus

If you're looking for an Android smartphone that's an all-rounder, your best bet would be with the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Powerful, Android 4.0-ready and equipped with a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED display, there's no denying that smartphone is the definitive Android device at this moment. The Android market might be smaller than Apple's in terms of app offerings, but the selection is more than sufficient for the average user.

Reasons for Samsung Galaxy Nexus

  • 4.65-inch 1280 x 720 HD Super AMOLED Display
  • Google Android 4.0
  • Multiple options in terms of storage capacity (16 / 32GB)


Social Media Integration

A heavy user of social media? Or looking for a smartphone that's easy to use for social media and communication purposes? It is important to note that social media apps are readily available across the different operating systems. So essentially, most phones can qualify under this category. However, if you are looking for a streamlined and unique social media-driven user experience, the Nokia Lumia 800 is definitely the phone for you.

Nokia Lumia 800

The selling point of the Nokia Lumia 800 is admittedly its social media-driven People hub. With the WP7.5 update, Twitter and LinkedIn have both been added to the list of integrated services with your phone contacts. This lets you browse through and reply to your latest social network updates as well as sharing of photos and images through Twitter or Facebook in a few nifty clicks. Furthermore, Windows Live Messenger and Facebook integration with the existing Messaging hub allow users to conduct conversations under a single thread (SMSes included). Oh and if you're going to rely heavily on your phone for navigational purposes, you'll love Nokia Drive.

Reasons for Nokia Lumia 800

  • People hub with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn integration
  • Messaging hub with Windows Live Messenger and Facebook integration
  • Can link multiple email inboxes into a single hub
  • Free turn-by-turn navigation app, Nokia Drive.



Your device is basically a tool for your work-on-the-go lifestyle as well as a key to your work efficiency. Your main concerns lie with work emails, documents and basically juggling your communication between your client/business partners. Ultimately, security features and mileage are essential, while a lower emphasis is placed on powerful hardware specs.

BlackBerry Bold 9900

The BlackBerry Bold series smartphone is and has been the definitive phone for business and formal communication. There are many reasons for this: its responsive and well-built keyboard, corporate grade email, data security services and a solid body. The latest BlackBerry Bold 9900 comes with all of these plus a touchscreen and the latest BlackBerry OS 7.0 with Liquid Graphics.

Reasons for BlackBerry Bold 9900

  • Preloaded work-centric apps such as office document editor
  • Security apps to enhance data integrity
  • Excellent keyboard



You require a bigger screen estate for your media consumption but find that the 7- to 10-inch tablets overly excessive; ultimately, you still prefer a phone that is small enough to carry about. Your device is primarily a vehicle for entertainment consumption or doodling/taking down notes so preferably, the smartphone should come with additional tools such as a stylus.

Samsung Galaxy Note

The Samsung Galaxy Note is a hard phone to peg. If you are looking at its gigantic screen size of 5.3 inches, it sits right smack between a smartphone and a small tablet. Otherwise, it is a smartphone (with a HD Super AMOLED screen). The Samsung Galaxy Note comes with S Pen (Advanced smart pen) technology, which is in a nutshell, a functional stylus concept. The S Memo function enhances the experience of writing, quick note-taking and doodling and is omnipresent in every app when triggered.

Reasons for Samsung Galaxy Note

  • Speedy and solid performance
  • Huge and beautiful HD Super AMOLED display
  • S Pen technology and S Memo function

Of course these aren’t strict guidelines to follow. Most of us alternate between different lifestyle profiles, and ideally, we want our phones to work as effective tools for both our personal and public lives. In that case, your option is to weigh your needs carefully and decide what overrides the other. There are plenty of smartphones around in the market today; if you feel that the choices mentioned here are limited in variety and you have a rough idea of what you are looking for, you can head to our previous round-up article.


Upcoming Smartphones

The smartphone industry is one that never sleeps. As of now, there's been reports of smartphones that showcase bigger screens, thinner bodies, higher RAM capacities, latest OS updates and many more features that will outrank the current lineup. That plus NVIDIA has mentioned that Tegra 3 equipped smartphones will make an appearance in the earlier part of this year (yes, rumors have been flooding in). If you are in no hurry to get a new smartphone, hold your horses for these rumored smartphones:

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