There was excitement in the office last week.
No, we haven’t discovered a gold mine under the stack of envelopes.
And no, we haven’t found a rusty old sword stuck in a big stone and managed to pull it out.
(Not THAT much excitement – maybe I’m overdoing it…)
No, Laura’s got a new phone. (In case you haven’t heard of her or spoken to her on the phone, Laura helps me run the business – she’s been here since back in 2006, just after I started!)
I admit, it might not sound like that big a deal, but it’s quite a swish phone with lots of new features. And since I’m a bit of a techie, I couldn’t help oooing and ahing over some of it’s fancier features.
(I’m also a bit tight, so my own phone is relatively basic and several years old, which is partly why Laura’s new one seemed so flash by comparison.)
Anyway, as I looked at what it was like and the extra features it had, I was thinking about what a minefield it is when you’re looking for a new phone. There are so many features that the manufacturers bill as the greatest thing since sliced bread. How do you know which ones actually matter? And, more importantly, which ones matter to you?
So I thought I’d mention what’s different between the more expensive phones and the cheaper ones – what extra features the pricier models have, what they’re actually for and other ways they might be better. That way at least you’ll know what you’re paying for, if you decide to get a new phone at any point!
Probably the most obvious thing you’ll spot looking at different phones is that they’re different sizes.
It’s definitely personal preference. If you’re using your phone for doing anything complicated you might prefer a bigger screen… but on the other hand if you carry it around a lot you might prefer a smaller phone.
The more expensive phones do have screens that go right to to edge of the phone, which means the screen’s bigger for the same size phone. That’s handy, although you have to decide whether it matters enough to you to pay the bit extra for a more expensive model.
The camera is something lots of people ask about – a lot of people use the camera on their phone a lot. (We even published some books about it – here if you’re interested, though we only have a few copies left at the moment).
The makers always quote how many “MP” each camera is – that’s short for mega-pixels and the more MP, the more dots are used to make the photo and the sharper it should be. I do feel it’s got a bit silly, though, and in my view if you’ve got 8 MP, you probably won’t notice much difference going any higher.
What will make a difference is the quality of the camera… but that’s harder to measure. If this matters to you, you might want to look at reviews on the internet about the specific phone you’re considering. Especially read about how well it works in dim light. It’s one thing if it takes great photos in bright Californian sunlight, but what about on a dingy winter’s day here in Cumbria?
Oh, and most phones now have a camera facing towards you when you use the phone (mainly for video calls) and one facing the other way (for taking photos). Some have more than one for taking photos – maybe a wide angle and a telephoto lens as well as the standard one.
The photo facing you when you use the phone is sometimes also for face recognition. This is a way to unlock your phone, instead of tapping in your special number (your PIN). It uses the camera to recognise you and unlock the phone when you look at it. It saves time and I’m told it’s pretty secure. (You have a PIN as well as backup in case one day you’ve grown a beard or are wearing sunglasses!)
The other option for this is some phones have a thumbprint reader, so it can tell it’s you by checking your fingerprint. Clever stuff.
Another thing that’s easy to measure is the amount of internal storage the phone has. This is measured in GB – for example my phone has 16GB. Laura’s new (and fairly fancy) one has 128GB, so you can see they vary quite a bit.
For some people, 16GB is plenty – it depends on what you want to use it for. If you use it to record a lot of home video, that takes a lot of space and if you want to have a lot of apps downloaded, that can take up a lot, depending on what apps they are. If you download TV programmes and keep them stored on your phone, that takes up space, too, but simply watching them “streaming” while you’re on the internet doesn’t need much. The other thing that can take up a lot of space is if you have a lot of music stored on your phone. Photos can take up a fair bit of space if you have loads, but just taking a few now and then shouldn’t be a problem on most modern phones.
On some phones, you can add extra storage by plugging in some kind of SD card. That’s helpful if you don’t have much space built in, but in my experience it’s sometimes less reliable than the built in storage.
Phew – that’s quite a bit for you to take in… and I haven’t even got to the fancy new “power share” that the adverts go on about, the battery, the screen or even how fast the chip running the phone is.
So I think I’ll take a break there and come back to this next week… unless I do happen to find that stone with a sword stuck in it hidden behind the printers…